Dilemma Management: Definition & Example

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  • 0:04 Dealing with Dilemmas
  • 0:26 Dilemma Management Framework
  • 2:42 How to Use Dilemma Management
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joseph Madison

Joseph received his Doctorate from UMUC in Management. He retired from the Army after 23 years of service, working in intelligence, behavioral health, and entertainment.

This lesson will define dilemma, define dilemma management, and describe the dilemma management framework. It will also explain how dilemma management can be used in organizations to identify and solve problems.

Dealing with Dilemmas

Justin just received a construction contract on a new apartment building. This contract requires that he include Marie and her interior design team. Unfortunately, Marie is very disruptive to his employees, even though she is extremely proficient in her job. This is a serious dilemma for Justin, and he has to determine whether he should upset the contract, his workforce, or Marie.

Dilemma Management Framework

As a manager, you are likely to encounter problems or dilemmas regularly. Either you have too many employees calling out sick one week, or perhaps you have to meet a sales goal that seems beyond the scope of your workforce. A dilemma in the scope of dilemma management, however, is more than just one specific situation. A dilemma is a complicated issue created when a manager has to accomplish more than one goal at a time, and at first glance there is no right answer. Managers will attempt to steer clear of these complications, because they believe they are too difficult to solve. But to solve the problem, managers, like Justin, must engage in dilemma management.

Dilemma management is the process of addressing complicated problems and resolving them in a systematic manner. To do this, it is important to keep the following dilemma management framework in mind:

Address It, Don't Avoid It

Dilemmas can stem from a lack of foresight and preparation or from something completely out of your control. Either way, you must realize there is a problem and try to identify it as early as possible. Avoidance only propagates the issue. You can start by analyzing what the underlying issue is and if you could have avoided the dilemma altogether. This will help you prepare for future complications.

Productive Reasoning Is Vital

Productive reasoning consists of looking at a dilemma from all angles and being willing to work with peers and employees to resolve the issue. The goal is not to focus on the evaluation of your behavior; instead, it is to pay more attention to the dilemma and its possible solutions. Defensive and reactionary behaviors should be avoided.

Reflection In Action

Now that the dilemma is being addressed, it is important to review your actions. As you assess, you can determine if your current actions are successful or if there are other ways you can address the problem. To do this effectively, you must be able to analyze your work critically and see any mistakes. This process will allow you to change your actions as you go along.

Develop a Dilemma Management Environment

It is integral for organizations to create an environment that encourages dilemma management. Managers should model understanding their mistakes and finding ways to grow from them. The more a leadership team can critically assess their own work, the easier it will be for their employees to follow suit.

How to Use Dilemma Management

Now that we see the framework, let's address Justin's dilemma. Justin is concerned about working with Marie's interior design team because her rude behavior disrupts his own employees. This new contract wants the best interior designer, though, and Marie is excellent at her job.

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