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Conflict Resolution Strategies in Managerial Communications

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  • 0:04 Blake and Mouton's…
  • 1:11 Avoidance
  • 2:17 Accomodating
  • 3:05 Forcing
  • 3:59 Problem-Solving
  • 5:00 Compromise
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

There are five major managerial types, and each is associated with a typical conflict resolution strategy. This lesson reviews these managerial types and their associated conflict resolution techniques.

Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid

The Blake and Mouton managerial grid is a 4-quadrant grid tool that allows managers to determine their personal managerial style. Two main characteristics of management are compared in the grid: concern for people and concern for production.

Blake and Mouton contend that there are five primary types of managers:

  1. Impoverished manager: Low concern for people and production
  2. Country club manager: High concern for people with low concern for production
  3. Produce or perish manager: High concern for production with low concern for people
  4. Team manager: High concern for people and production
  5. Middle-of-the-road manager: Moderate levels of concern for both people and production

Based on Blake and Mouton's grid, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument defines five common managerial conflict resolution communication styles:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Accommodating
  3. Forcing
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Compromising

Let's review each of these communication styles as they apply to Blake and Mouton's managerial types.

Avoidance

Joe is the manager in a bakery. He notices that employees are not following policy when making pastries. He hates conflict, so he decides to just wait it out and see if they will figure out the right way to make the pastries on their own. This is an example of avoidance. Avoidance is a communication style in which a no attempt is made to engage others in conflict resolution. Managers who use this style often fail in their attempt, or lack thereof, to resolve the conflict at hand. In fact, a problem left to resolve itself normally worsens.

The most common managerial type to use avoidance in communication is the impoverished manager. Like Joe, impoverished managers do not prioritize people or production. Typically, this type of manager is not effective, which results in unhappy employees and little productivity.

However, there are some situations avoidance measures are useful. Maybe conflict has arisen in the workplace over current affairs, such as an unpopular but mandatory policy change. It would be best for the manager to stay removed from this conflict by using avoidance.

Accommodating

When managers often overlook employee misbehavior or take over when they notice work is not being completed, they are exhibiting a country club type of managerial style. This is manifested when managers prioritize people over production. Accommodating communication in conflict resolution means to give in to the demands of others. The manager, in this case, would often accommodate his employees in any conflict.

The obvious positive of this style of conflict resolution is that employees tend to be happy. They are getting what they ask for each time there is a problem. The downside is a possible loss of productivity if employees ask for accommodations that impact production. Also, when two employees have a conflict that the manager must resolve, the manager cannot accommodate both employees at once, and his/her choice may result in further conflict.

Forcing

A manager who cares most about the bottom line and has little understanding of his or her employees probably employs a produce or perish managerial style. In this scenario, it is likely that the manager uses a forcing strategy when dealing with conflict resolution issues. Forcing entails a manager simply instructing or compelling employees to resolve a conflict in the way the manager desires. It is also referred to as 'confrontation style of communication.'

This strategy allows the manager to assert his or her authority over employees, and theoretically, ensures that the manager's policies and ideas are acted upon. These are positive aspects of this technique. On the other hand, using force to resolve conflict in the workplace causes to employees to feel unheard and dissatisfied with their work. In the long-term, this could lead to reduced productivity due to high turnover or unmotivated employees.

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