Conflict and Collaboration
Interpersonal behaviors line up along a continuum, for example “working with others” at one end and “working against others” at the other end.
Prosocial behavior is the tendency to help others on the job, even when there is no personal benefit. Cooperation is when people receive help from others and help others. Competition is when a person tries to win, forcing the other to lose.
A psychological contract is a person’s beliefs about what is expected of one another in a relationship. A social contract is your belief of what is expected of another person (Rousseau). This can be transactional (rewards, salary) or relational (inter-personal).
Conflict is the process that occurs when one party perceives that another has frustrated or is about to frustrate one or more of its concerns. Conflict can lead to deviant behavior (extreme acts such as stealing from organization or harming another.) Task-related conflict is aimed at the issue, not at the parties involved. This tends to be a constructive controversy where people recognize problems, identify solutions, and understand the issues. Socio-emotional conflict is viewed as a personal attack. It lies at the foundation of conflict escalation and leads to dissatisfaction, stress, and turnover. Process-related conflict is conflict about the process.
Conflict might emerge in a person’s interactions with their managers, when dealing with peers or associates, in discussions with employees, or when the need arises to “shore up” formal authority in an organization.
There are potential benefits of conflict, including improved decision-making and stronger teams.
However, there may also be dysfunctional outcome from conflict. It diverts energy and resources, encourages organizational politics, encourages stereotyping, weakens knowledge management, and may lead to harassment or bullying. There are various transaction expenses (incl. economic, psychological, and time-based) and there may be a likelihood of conflict recurrence.
Though often a manager’s depends on the actions of others outside the chain of command, a manager can look at efficiency, effectiveness, participant satisfaction, and fairness to determine his response to managing conflict. Here are the four common ways:
- Inquisitorial Intervention (high process control/high outcome control): the manager invents and enforces a ruling. He actively controls discussion between the parties involved and takes on the role of a parent. This is the most common method utilized.
- Adversarial Intervention/Judge (low process control/high outcome control): the manager does not control the process, but allows parties to present the information as they wish. He listens to both sides and makes a decision. This is the second most common method.
- Avoiders, Delegators, Impetus Providers/Motivating (low process control/low outcome control): the manager gets out of situation, sometimes by asking: “What is going on here” and thereby avoiding taking action. In his question, he signals to both parties that punishment will be forthcoming if they don’t solve their own dispute.
- Mediation (high process control/low outcome control): the manager controls the process through which parties reveal information about the conflict. He does not control the decision concerning how conflict is resolved. This technique was virtually unused by the managers studied, however it tends to be the most effective.
Negotiation is situation where parties with conflict seek to do better through jointly decided action Managers as mediators: Tend to weight efficiency and effectiveness as higher than satsif/fair. Weighting encourages them to control the conflict situation
There are three ways that disputes tend to be resolved. (1) Interests (settle by which interests should be served); (2) Rights (settle by rights, as in a law, contract or norm); (3) Power: (settle by who has the most power).
There are two basic types of negotiation. There is the distributive negotiation, where one feels a win-lose orientation. And there is a collaborative, win-win orientation. Collaborative negotiations are best in situations with long-term relationships, when those involved share values, or where there are multiple issues at stake.
Conflict management style is based on how assertive a person is (low, high) versus how cooperative (low, high). When competing, a person attempts to induce, persuade, force compliance, or resist. When collaborating, people jointly solve problems and integrate their points-of-views. When people are avoiding, they unilaterally avoid confronting differences or delay making changes. When accommodating, a person offers no resistance to the other party’s views. When people are compromising, they jointly establish a basis for both parties to maintain their differences or they set objective rules for handling differences.
Nugent (2002) poses a conceptual model for managerial intervention in conflict situations. These conflict situations may concern content issues (incompatible goals, differences about appropriate means to achieve ends, or anything needing a cognitive approach) or emotional issues (hurt feelings arising from normative expectations or judgments about another person’s behavior). There are a few different third party interventions, which more or less fit the model explained previously. If a third party has minimal control over the outcome or process, individuals must solve the conflict on their own. In this instance, the manager is providing motivation for conflict-solving. If a third party has high control of outcome and process, this third party tends to be an autocratic manager. He gathers information, decides on action, and forces individuals to comply. This method is best to use when a resolution is urgent or individuals are unable to deal with the conflict or potential impacts are major. In arbitration, individuals can contribute their ideas. A third party is facilitating bargaining in a situation with high process control and low outcome control. In this instance, a third party identifies content issues and helps those in a conflict to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. Nugent outlines four steps in the decision process: (1) Decide whether someone should intervene; (2) Determine what type of intervention is appropriate; (3) Determine whether or not the manager is the appropriate person to intervene; (4) Determine whether and in what way an independent resource person should intervene.
Organ & Ryan (1995) performed a meta-analysis of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB). OCBs are actions that exceed the formal requirements of one’s job, and are helpful “above and beyond the call of duty.” Examples include the following: altruism (helping on a project), conscientiousness (coming to work early or staying late), civic virtue (attending voluntary functions), sportsmanship (not finding fault with the organization), and courtesy. Biggest predictors of OCB are attitudinal measures (predictor is morale) and trust. The relationship between job satisfaction and OCB is stronger than the relationship between satisfaction and performance. OCBs are linked to perceptions of fair treatment by the organization.
Deviant Organizational Behavior refers to employees actions that intentionally violate the norms of organization, with negative consequences. This deviance can be in the form of production deviance (leaving early, taking long breaks, or cyberloafing), property deviance (stealing from the organization, lying about hours worked), political deviance (gossiping, favoritism), or personal aggression (bullying, stealing from co-workers).
Prusak & Cohen: How to invest in social capital. (AKA: How to create an organizational investment in relationships that increases the bottom line.) (1) Having virtual workplaces can erode relationships, as they take time, energy, and focus. It is true that technology can help maintain relationships, but it can’t create a sense of community where one doesn’t already exist. (2) In making connections, it is advised to promote from within and to give people time and space to bond in person. Social capital grows when team members meet face-to-face and work side-by-side. Facilitate personal conversations with social spaces (ex: chat rooms, libraries, etc.) and foster durable networks (ex: lunchtime meetings, CoP’s). Communities of practice: self-selected, informal groups linked by shared expertise, passions, or goals. Lastly, managers should facilitate personal conversations, not just have conversations about work. (3) To enable trust, it is best not to use trust-building exercises but to instead focus on building relationships. Give employees no reason to distrust (i.e. transparency) and send clear signals that employees are valued. Trust grows from trust, so as a manager, you should show that you trust your team. Companies that display trust to customers and suppliers are more likely to trust each other. Monitoring decreases trust; trust responds to rewards. (4) Authenticity in management means we should not build social capital for “sake of appearances.” Instead, invest to the extent you believe in it. (5) Foster cooperation in the following ways: (a) give people a common sense of purpose (mission statement); recall a hazardous product despite expense and harming brand name; (b) reward cooperation with cash; (c) establish rules for cooperation; (d) hire for social capital. Companies build trust over time. Social capital leads to engagement, collaboration, and loyalty. Too much social capital can lead groupthink, but most of the effects are positive.
Grant (2007) Motivation to Make Pro-Social Difference: When do employees care about others? The service sector (work defined in terms of relationships) has highest rate of job growth in the US, three-fourths of work in the United States is in service jobs. Traditional Models of Job Design (Hackman & Oldham, 1976) focus on the task (task identity, variety, and feedback), not the relational structures of jobs. The relational architecture of jobs refers to the structural properties of work that shape employees’ opportunities to connect and interact with other people. To quote Lubbock (1923): “To make others happier and better is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being.”
Groups and Teams
A focus on groups and teams saw a real rise in the 1980s, as Japanese car manufacturers kicked our asses.
Katz & Koenig (2001): Sports Teams as Models: Seven lessons on how to motivate and structure a team and its work. Sports team members play different positions and have interdependent roles. They work together closely. Work place team members are a group with clearly defined membership, they are interdependent, and operate in larger organizational context. This article offers seven lessons for workplace teams, using sports teams as models
- Integrate Cooperation & Competition; Members invest in each other AND push each other to perform; Openly acknowledge/treat competition positively; Benchmark players’ performance against each other – but DO NOT undermine others’ wins; Intense competition during practice/minimal during games; Encourage competition (at certain times, around certain goals, with certain ground rules
- Orchestrate Early Wins: Shapes the path that follows; Early wins build team faith; Carve large team tasks into smaller ones; Make early tasks short-term so success experienced early & repeatedly; Tasks should be concrete/unambiguous so team receives clear feedback; Manager: Call attention to team’s early success
- Break out of Losing Streaks: Breaking out of a losing spiral; Failing teams attribute problems to “stable, uncontrollable” causes; Manager: Shape team attributions when they encounter a setback
- Carve out Time for Practice: Practice = opportunity for experimentation/ innovation; Manager: Carve out space for learning mode and practice time; Experimentation/failure = integral parts of learning (practice in stable, familiar environment, low-risk environment, low-arousal setting – such as situation without evaluation)
- Call Half-time: Occurs at mid-point of team’s work; Team members open to questioning/revising strategies; Milestone where team members gauge how well team is doing and likely team is to meet deadline; Manager: time interventions, structure half-time team assessment, create deadlines (artificial endpoint)
- Keep Team Membership Stable: Finding: More stable team membership, more likely to win; Learn unique way combo of players functions together; Learn to read & predict each other’s moves; Manager: Assign people who can stay during entire project duration; Enhance team membership benefits/minimize costs; Team membership should not interfere w/ career advancement
- Study the game video: learn from success and failure
Caveats: (1) Choose right sports team as model – Pooled, sequential, reciprocal interdependence (Little, routinized, or high interaction); (2) Don’t confuse coaching & managing (Coach: day-to-day activities, team-building; Manager: structure, task design, team resources); (3) Build bridges, not boundaries: Explain sports metaphors fully – use language carefully; Do not assume winning is the only thing(Ex: indicates unintended organizational/self values, Workplace higher stake than playing field – complex environment)
Katzenbach & Smith: The discipline of teams. In a team, performance includes both individual results and what we call “collective work products.” In a working group, performance is a function of what members do as individuals. A team is defined as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, a set of performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Specific team performance goals: (1) help define a set of work products different from organizational mission and individual job objectives, (2) facilitate communication and constructive conflict within team, (3) helps teams maintain a focus on getting results, (4) have a leveling effect conducive to team behavior, (5) allow a team to achieve small wins, and (6) are compelling as symbols of accomplishment that motivate and energize. The right mix of team skills include: technical or functional expertise, Problem-solving and decision-making skills and Interpersonal skills. There are different types of teams. There are teams that recommend things (task forces, project teams) who brief on team purpose, approach, and objectives. There are teams that make or do things (operations, manufacturing, development, sales) who have relentless focus on performance. And there are teams that run things. The main issue is determining whether team approach right. Begin with team formation, then develop purpose, then translate purpose to specific performance goals, and then begin the performance.
“Team boundary-spanning activity” refers to teams having members who can bridge to the outside in terms of getting resources, negotiating agreements, and knowing who to contact. Activities of interdependent organizational teams relate to performance in terms of communication, content, and quality. Effectiveness in product development comes from activities that promote the team and secure resources and lead to links with other groups. It is important that team members can meet external demands, which the following come into play: background characteristics of individual members, connections of team members to relevant internal and external organizational networks, and the nature of team member assignments on the team. Diverse teams tend to be higher performing teams, as they come from a variety of functional areas, with more viewpoints, and access to information. Strong ties are those connections that involve closeness, reciprocation, and time spent together. They bond similar people with redundant information. Weak ties diffuse networks and provide a greater variety of contacts and information. A few keys for success: bring in outside experts (members represent variety of groups), shift team composition over the project life-cycle, assign some part-time roles on team, and differentiate decision-making roles of team members.
When asking, does group process matter, we are focusing on teams that demand active engagement and intense group member interaction. These groups move fast, have a high degree of conflict, and still get along. They build collective intuition, as groups with great process rely on more, not less information. This information is distinguished as real-time, fact-based information about current operations. They participate in information sharing, making this information available to the group collective. This combination works with a fast combination of tactics: members meet often, continually track information, and members create disagreement. When stimulating task conflict, they refrain from the Abilene paradox where every member disagrees with a group choice but doesn’t express disagreement. Instead, they create group conflict, generating task conflict with “framebreaking” heuristics. Imagining future scenarios can lead to new thinking. They develop natural rhythm of action and deadlines/milestones indicate group progress. They set pace with the use of “consensus with qualification” as the group decision rule.
Weingart & Jehn (Locke): Manage Intra-team Conflict through Collaboration. Identify type of intra-team conflict. Is it task or non-task conflict? When there’s a non-task conflict, there’s decreased performance. Task conflict, on the other hand, can improve decision making and planning.
For a team to be collaborative, address the following:
- Group Atmosphere: Atmosphere must support interdependence, reliance, trust, open communication, and collective efficacy. Create a team orientation by framing group activities as belonging to team. Develop collective efficacy by building perceptions that team is able to perform the task. Develop trust to instill confidence in other team members. Create open conflict communication norms so that team members are open to free exchange of concerns and dissention.
- Group Member Behavior: Identify behaviors that constitute collaboration. Exchange information as this increases insight into individuals’ motivations. Use packaging and trade-offs by making concessions on less important issues to gain advantage on others rather than solving all problems sequentially. Work to break the chain of conflict escalation by responding to behavior with “integrative, collaborative responses.” Label bad behavior as “unproductive.”
- Team Member Characteristics: Do not assume situation is win-lose, as situations are best resolved to mutual satisfaction. Have social motives: a high concern for self and other associated with collaboration.
Team Effectiveness: 1: The team’s product meets or exceeds standards of quality, quantity, and timeliness. 2: The team’s work process enhances member’s capability to work together well. 3: the team contributes positively to the learning an personal well-being of individual members.
Three aspects of team composition: (1) Backgrounds of team members (want people with expertise – diversity is good); (2) Connections of team members to outside networks (want people with strong and weak ties outside of the network); (3) Nature of members’ assignments (boundaries)
On average, all types of conflict (including task and relationship) can impede a team’s performance. While relationship conflicts (based on personality and interpersonal clashes) are detrimental to team performance and morale, task conflict can be good if it’s managed collaboratively.
Three steps in managing team conflict through collaboration: (1) Identify type of intra-team conflict Task conflict: disagreements on performance-related activities. Task content conflict: disagreement regarding ideas and opinions about the task being performed Task process conflict: disagreement about logistical and delegation issues. Relationship conflicts disagreements abt personal issues not task related –personality difs, can interfere w task performance (2) Identify appropriate collaboration strategies to resolve disputes The appropriate collaborative strategy is contingent upon the type of conflict experienced. In dealing w relationship conflict, manage problem outside of the task setting. W task conflict, effective to manage within the task setting. (3) Cultivate conditions that increase the likelihood of collaboration Framing, Team goals, Develop collective efficacy, Affective integration, Open and constructive conflict communication norms. Identify team members who can collaborate.
Eisenberg and Witten: Reconsidering Openness in Org. Communication. There are three definitions of openness: (1) Disclosure of personal info: This is appropriate under certain circumstances. However, it can cause emotional distress or discomfort as most work relationships are non-interpersonal. Managers sometimes use “manipulative persuasion” to disguise self-interest, distort information, or overwhelm others – this is not a positive thing. (2) Disclosure of non-personal info: There is an assumption that a free flow of information increases organizational effectiveness; however, open communication may be harmful during a crisis or in complex situations. A manager may be in better position to translate information. Disclosure of technical information gives power away at lower levels and reduces access to organizational information. Openness involves risks that often people do not want to take. (3) How clear or ambiguous disclosure may be: Strategic use of ambiguity in: (a) Coping with multiple goals; (b) Ambiguous missions or goals allow divergent interpretations to exist and allow diverse groups to work together.
Communication strategies reflect individual goals and situational characteristics. Individual contingencies involve personal motives, styles, preferences that affect communicative choices. Relational contingencies involve closeness or shared history between org members. Org contingencies involve constraints on communication related to the job, tasks, or interests of the organization as a whole. Environmental contingencies are another concern.
Crampton, Hodge, Mishra (1998) wrote an article on the “grapevine” in the workplace. Early research into the grapevine shows that information transmits rapidly in all directions in a cluster chain pattern. The grapevine is more active in homogeneous groups and tends to transmit some degree of truth. E-mail currently serves as the main grapevine medium and networks are global. There are benefits to the grapevine. It supplements information, strengthens corporate culture, relieves anxiety, and signals that problems exist. However, there are also problems with the grapevine. It suggests management has a lack of concern for employees and distortions may escalate anxiety. It seems it is an inevitable part of organizational life. As much as 70% of organizational communication occurs at grapevine level (DeMare). Informal networks transmit messages faster than formal. Most information is accurate and employees rely on grapevine when they feel threatened, insecure, under stress, or in a time of change. Greater informal communication is associated with greater turnover. Management should not try to control grapevine. Be aware that it exists and know that rumor is chiefly determined by 1) the breakdown of formal communication, 2) uncertainty, 3) the importance of the rumor to the persons communicating and by the ambiguity of the facts associated with the rumor. It exists at all management levels, but highest awareness at lower managerial level. Recommendations for management: (1) Take an active, participatory role in org communication processes; (2) Respect employees’ need to know & understand org issues; (3) Actively include employees in meeting & decision-making communication; (4) Plan org communications; (5) Avoid tendency to hide bad news; (6) Act promptly to correct false info concerning org policies, practices, plans for the future; (7) Evaluate org’s communication plan regularly; (8) Include input from all org levels when undertaking new org programs.
Von Glinow et al. Can we talk? (and Should we?). Talk is not always possible (ex. 9/11). Some words for emotion are essentially non-translatable between different cultures because word equivalents don’t always exist. Emotional conflict is often highly contextualized and that will influence how people interpret language. Emotional conflict may be inevitable. Train MCT members to expect emotional conflict and understand why that is the case. Use additional training similar to service industries that train employees to successfully manage polycontextual spaces. Include aesthetic alternatives to talk. Expressing emotion visually and aesthetically will reduce negative emotions. Emotional conflict may be inevitable. Talk may not be an effective conflict management strategy. Alternatives to talk may include aesthetic approaches such as the use of a visual aid or activity.
Conger, J: The Necessary Art of Persuasion: (1) Establish credibility. Increase expertise: Learn more about your topic & position; Hire someone to bolster your experience; Utilize outside sources of info; Launch pilot projects to demonstrate expertise. Relationships: Meet one-on-one with all the people you plan to persuade; Involve like-minded coworkers who have an already strong relationship with your audience (2) Frame for common ground: Make your position appeal strongly to people you are trying to persuade; Describe your position in a way that highlights its advantages; Understand your audience to target your message to them (3) Provide evidence: Use the language of stories, metaphors, analogies; Make your position “come alive” by painting a vivid picture; Listeners absorb information in proportion to its vividness (4) Connect emotionally: Show your emotional commitment to the position you are advocating; Be aware of the emotional state of the audience; Adjust arguments by matching your emotions to that of the audience.. Persuasion is not for convincing and selling but for learning and negotiation.
4 Ways Not to Persuade (1) Make your case up front with a “hard sell” – Gives your opponent something to fight against; (2) Resist compromise – Show your flexibility in responding to concerns; (3) Believe great arguments are secret to persuasion – other factors matter (i.e. persuader’s credibility, emotional connection with audience, communication with vivid language); (4) Assume persuasion is one event rather than a process – Persuasion involves listening, testing a position, developing a new position, incorporating compromises, trying again
Active Listening is a circle of (1) Sensing (postpone evaluation, don’t interrupt, maintain interest); (2) Responding (show interest, clarify the message); (3) Evaluating (empathize, organize information)
Leadership and Power
Management copes with complexity, involving: planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, control, and problem solving. Leadership copes with change, particularly: setting direction, aligning people, motivating people, and persuading people.
With managers, goals arise out of necessities, not desires. Managers tend to avoid risk, to negotiate and coerce, to limit choices, to design compromises, to like to work with people but tend to lack empathy, to focus on process, to be described as detached and manipulative, and to feel a part of the organization.
With leaders, they tend to take a personal, active outlook, to shape rather than respond to ideas, to alter moods, to evoke images and expectations, to set direction, to increase options, to seek risk, to turn ideas into exciting images, to be empathetic, to focus on substance of decisions, and to feel separate from the organization.
There are five perspectives of leadership: competency, behavior, romance, transformational, and contingency.
There are seven leadership competencies: drive, leadership motivation, integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, knowledge of business, and emotional intelligence.
Leaders tend to have people-oriented behaviors and show mutual trust and respect. They usually have a concern for employee needs and a desire to look out for employee welfare. Their task-oriented behaviors are as follows: assigning specific tasks, ensuing employees follow rules, and pushing people to reach peak performance.
Yukl, G (Fr Locke): Use power effectively through influence.
- The types of power are as follows: (1) Legitimate: Derived from formal authority (Underlying basis = agreement to comply with rules in exchange for organizational membership) (2) Reward: Control over desirable resources/rewards (3) Coercive: Control over punishment (also capacity to prevent obtaining desired rewards) (4) Control over information: Access to info & control over its distribution (easier to cover mistakes, act in way that serves agent’s interest) (5) Expert: Perceived expertise in solving probs/performing tasks (6) Referent: When others want to please an agent because of feelings of affection, admiration, loyalty.
- Exercising Power: (1) Legitimating Tactics: When authority is ambiguous or legitimacy is in doubt; Establish legitimacy of request/command, such as with evidence of prior precedent (2) Rational Persuasion: Logical arguments & factual evidence that action is feasible; Emphasize benefits of request for individual (3) Inspirational Appeals: Arouse strong emotions & link request to person’s needs, values, hopes, ideals (4) Consultation: Involve person in how action will be carried out
- Tactics: Exchange (reward for fulfilling request), Personal Appeals (favors), Ingratiation Tactics (compliment, make them feel appreciated before requesting), Pressure (threats), Coalition (assistance from others to indirectly influence)
- Most effective tactics for influencing to carry out a request/support a proposal: Consultation & inspirational appeals, strong rational persuasion (a week proposal without supporting evidence is likely to be less effective); Moderately effective tactics: Exchange & ingratiation (Subordinates not have much to exchange with managers, ingratiation perceived as insincere); Least effective tactics: Pressure, legitimating tactics, upward appeals
Guzzo & Dickson (1996): Heterogeneous group composition is good. It is important to specify tasks. When leaders expect more, groups perform better.
Pinto’s Corruption article: We develop our theory based on: (1) whether the individual or the organization is the beneficiary of the corrupt activity and (2) whether the corrupt behavior is undertaken by an individual actor or by two or more actors.
Three factors comprise relevant exceptions to our focal principle: (1) Visibility of the leader’s behavior (increases in trust only occur when it’s seen); (2) Personality of followers (if people are distrusting, it won’t work); (3) Follower information processing (the development of trust depends on how the follower processes and interprets the info)