This assignment is worth 200 points.
1. Read Finkelman (2016), Chapter 13: Improving Teamwork: Collaboration, Coordination, and Conflict Resolution, section on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, pp. 324-333.
2. Observe nurses in a care delivery setting. Identify a recurring conflict with the potential to negatively impact patient care. Decide if delegation was an issue in the conflict. This should be from your practice setting or prelicensure experiences.
3. Provide details of what happened, including who was involved, what was said, where it occurred, and what was the outcome that led you to decide the conflict was unresolved.
4. Identify the type of conflict. Explain your rationale for selecting this type.
5. Outline the four stages of conflict, as described in our text, and how they relate to your example.
6. Propose strategies to resolve the conflict. Search scholarly sources in the library and the Internet for evidence on what may be effective.
7. Discuss if delegation was an issue in the conflict. Be specific.
8. Describe how you would collaborate with a nurse leader to reach consensus on the best strategy to employ to deal with the conflict.
9. Describe the rationale for selecting the best strategy.
10. Provide a summary or conclusion about this experience or assignment and how you may deal with conflict more effectively in the future.
1. Follow APA format. Consult your APA manual, and consider using the APA resources provided by Chamberlain.
2. Write a 5-7 page paper (not including the title or References pages) using APA format that includes the following.
a. Describe an unresolved (recurring) conflict that you experienced or observed. Identify the type of conflict.
b. Provide details of what happened, including who was involved, what was said, where it occurred, and what was the outcome that led you to decide the conflict was unresolved.
c. Outline the four stages of conflict, as described in Finkelman, and how the stages relate to your example. Decide if delegation was an issue in the conflict. Be specific.
d. Describe the strategies for conflict resolution and how you would collaborate with a nurse leader to resolve the conflict. Cites the course textbook and two scholarly sources.
e. Provide a conclusion or summary about this experience and how you may deal with conflict more effectively in the future.
f. Submit by the end of Week 3.
Read Finkelman (2016), Chapter 13: Improving Teamwork: Collaboration, Coordination, and Conflict Resolution, section on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, pp. 324-333.
There are three types of conflict: individual, interpersonal, and intergroup/organizational (MindTools®, 2014a).
· Individual conflict. The most common type of individual conflict in the workplace is role conflict, which occurs when there is incompatibility between one or more role expectations. When staff do not understand the roles of other staff, this can be very stressful for the individual and affects work. Staff may be critical of each other for not doing some work activity when in reality it is not part of the role and responsibilities of that staff member, or staff members may feel that another staff member is doing some activity that really is not his or her responsibility.
· Interpersonal conflict. This conflict occurs between people. Sometimes this is due to differences and/or personalities; competition; or concern about territory, control, or loss.
· Intergroup/organizational conflict. Conflict also occurs between teams (e.g., units, services, teams, healthcare professional groups, agencies, community and a healthcare provider organization, and so on). Sometimes this is due to competition, lack of understanding of purpose for another team, and lack of leadership within a team or across teams within an HCO.
A leader’s ultimate purpose is to accomplish organizational results. A leader gets results by providing guidance and managing resources, as well as performing the other leader competencies. This competency is focused on consistent and ethical task accomplishment through supervising, managing, monitoring, and controlling of the work.
Prioritizes, organizes, and coordinates taskings for teams or other organizational structures/groups
· Uses planning to ensure each course of action achieves the desired outcome.
· Organizes groups and teams to accomplish work.
· Plans to ensure that all tasks can be executed in the time available and that tasks depending on other tasks are executed in the correct sequence.
· Limits overspecification and micromanagement.
Identifies and accounts for individual and group capabilities and commitment to task
· Considers duty positions, capabilities, and developmental needs when assigning tasks.
· Conducts initial assessments when beginning a new task or assuming a new position.
Designates, clarifies, and deconflicts roles
· Establishes and employs procedures for monitoring, coordinating, and regulating subordinates’ actions and activities.
· Mediates peer conflicts and disagreements.
Identifies, contends for, allocates, and manages resources
· Allocates adequate time for task completion.
· Keeps track of people and equipment.
· Allocates time to prepare and conduct rehearsals.
· Continually seeks improvement in operating efficiency, resource conservation, and fiscal responsibility.
· Attracts, recognizes, and retains talent.
Removes work barriers
· Protects organization from unnecessary taskings and distractions.
· Recognizes and resolves scheduling conflicts.
· Overcomes other obstacles preventing full attention to accomplishing the mission.
Recognizes and rewards good performance
· Recognizes individual and team accomplishments; rewards them appropriately.
· Credits subordinates for good performance.
· Builds on successes.
· Explores new reward systems and understands individual reward motivations.
Seeks, recognizes, and takes advantage of opportunities to improve performance
· Asks incisive questions.
· Anticipates needs for action.
· Analyzes activities to determine how desired end states are achieved or affected.
· Acts to improve the organization’s collective performance.
· Envisions ways to improve.
· Recommends best methods for accomplishing tasks.
· Leverages information and communication technology to improve individual and group effectiveness.
· Encourages staff to use creativity to solve problems.
Makes feedback part of work processes
· Gives and seeks accurate and timely feedback.
· Uses feedback to modify duties, tasks, procedures, requirements, and goals when appropriate.
· Uses assessment techniques and evaluation tools (such as AARs) to identify lessons learned and facilitate consistent improvement.
· Determines the appropriate setting and timing for feedback.
Executes plans to accomplish the mission
· Schedules activities to meet all commitments in critical performance areas.
· Notifies peers and subordinates in advance when their support is required.
· Keeps track of task assignments and suspenses.
· Adjusts assignments, if necessary.
· Attends to details.
Identifies and adjusts to external influences on the mission or taskings and organization
· Gathers and analyzes relevant information about changing situations.
· Determines causes, effects, and contributing factors of problems.
· Considers contingencies and their consequences.
· Makes necessary, on-the-spot adjustments.
Figure 13-1 Competency: Gets results and associated components and actions
Source: U.S. Army. (2006). Army leadership: Competent, confident, and agile. Retrieved from http://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm6-22.pdf
When conflict occurs, something is out of sync, usually due to a lack of clear understanding of one another’s roles and responsibilities. Sometimes conflict is open and obvious, and sometimes it is not as obvious; this latter type may be more destructive as staff may be responding negatively without a clear reason. Everyone has experienced covert conflict. It never feels good and increases stress quickly. Distrust and confusion about the best response are also experienced. Acknowledging covert conflict is not easy, and staff will have different perceptions of the conflict since it is not clear and below the surface. Overt conflict is obvious, at least to most people, and thus coping with it is usually easier. It is easier to arrive at an agreement when overt conflict is present and easier to arrive at a description of the conflict.
The common assumption about conflict is that it is destructive, and it certainly can be. There is, however, another view of conflict. It can be used to improve if changes are made to address problems related to the conflict. The following quote speaks to the need to recognize that conflict can be viewed as an opportunity.
When I speak of celebrating conflict, others often look at me as if I have just stepped over the credibility line. As nurses, we have been socialized to avoid conflict. Our modus operandi has been to smooth over at all costs, particularly if the dynamic involves individuals representing roles that have significant power differences in the organization. Be advised that well-functioning transdisciplinary teams will encounter conflict-laden situations. It is inevitable. The role of the leader is to use conflicting perspectives to highlight and hone the rich diversity that is present within the team. Conflict also provides opportunities for individuals to present divergent yet equally valid views that allow all team members to gain an understanding of their contributions to the process. Respect for each team member’s standpoint comes only after the team has explored fully and learned to appreciate the diversity of its membership.
(Weaver, 2001, p. 83)
This is a positive view of conflict, which on the surface may appear negative. If one asked nurses if they wanted to experience conflict, they would say no. Probably behind their response is the fact that they do not know how to handle conflict and feel uncomfortable with it. However, if you asked staff, “Would you like to work in an environment where staff at all levels could be direct without concern of repercussions and could actively dialogue about issues and problems without others taking comments personally?” many staff would most likely see this as positive and not conflict. Avoidance of conflict, however, usually means that it will catch up with the person again, and then it may be more difficult to resolve. There may then be more emotions attached to it, making it more difficult to resolve.
Causes of Conflict
Effective resolution of conflict requires an understanding of the cause of the conflict; however, some conflicts may have more than one cause. It is easy to jump to conclusions without doing a thorough assessment. Some of the typical causes of conflict between individuals and between teams/groups are “whether resources are shared equitably; insufficient explanation of expectations, leading to performance being questioned; unexplained changes that disturb routines and processes and that team members are not prepared for; and stress resulting from changes that team members do not understand and may see as threatening” (Finkelman & Kenner, 2016, p. 336).
Two predictors of conflict are the existence of competition for resources and inadequate communication. It is rare that a major change on a unit or in an HCO does not result in competition for resources (staff, financial, space, supplies), so conflicts arise between units or between those who may or may not receive the resources or may lose resources. Causes of conflict can be varied. An understanding of a conflict requires as thorough an assessment as possible. Along with the assessment, it is important to understand the stages of conflict.
Stages of Conflict
There are four stages of conflict that help describe the process of conflict development (MBA, 2014):
1. Latent conflict. This stage involves the anticipation of conflict. Competition for resources or inadequate communication can be predictors of conflict. Anticipating conflict can increase tension. This is when staff may verbalize, “We know this is going to be a problem,” or may feel this internally. The anticipation of conflict can occur between units that
Figure 13-2 Stages of conflict
accept one another’s patients when one unit does not think that the staff members on the other unit are very competent yet must accept orders and patient plans from them.
2. Perceived conflict. This stage requires recognition or awareness that conflict exists at a particular time. It may not be discussed but only felt. Perception is very important as it can affect whether or not there really is a conflict, what is known about the conflict, and how it might be resolved.
3. Felt conflict. This occurs when individuals begin to have feelings about the conflict such as anxiety or anger. Staff feel stress at this time. If avoidance is used at this time, it may prevent the conflict from moving to the next stage. Avoidance may be appropriate in some circumstances, but sometimes it just covers over the conflict and does not resolve it. In this case the conflict may come up again and be more complicated. Trust plays a role here. How much do staff trust that the situation will be resolved effectively? How comfortable do staff members feel in being open with their feelings and opinions?
4. Manifest conflict. This is overt conflict. At this time the conflict can be constructive or destructive. Examples of destructive behavior related to the conflict are ignoring a policy, denying a problem, avoiding a staff member, and discussing staff in public with negative comments. Examples of constructive responses to the conflict include encouraging the team to identify and solve the problem, expressing appropriate feelings, and offering to help out a staff member. (Figure 13-2 highlights the stages of conflict.)
Prevention of Conflict
Some conflict can be prevented, so it is important to take preventive steps whenever possible to correct a problem before it develops into a conflict. A staff team or HCO that says it has no conflicts is either not aware of conflict or prefers not to acknowledge it. Prevention of conflict should focus on the typical causes of conflict that have been identified in this chapter. Clear communication, known expectations, appropriate allocation of resources, and delineation of roles and responsibilities will go a long way toward preventing conflict. If the goal is to eliminate all conflict, this will not be successful because it cannot be done.
Since not all conflict can be prevented, managers and staff need to know how to manage conflict and resolve it when it exists. It is important to identify potential barriers that can make it more likely that a situation will turn into a conflict or will act as barriers to conflict resolution. First and foremost, if all staff make an effort to decrease their tension or stress level, this will go a long way in preventing or resolving conflict. In addition to this strategy, it is important to improve communication, recognize team members as members with expertise, listen and compromise to get to the most effective decision given the available data, understand the roles and responsibilities of team/staff members, and be willing to evaluate practice and team functioning.
Conflict Management: Issues and Strategies
Conflict management is critical in any HCO. When conflicts arise, then managers and staff need to understand conflict management issues and strategies. The major goals of conflict management are as follows:
1. To eliminate or decrease the conflict
2. To meet the needs of the patient, family/significant others, and the organization
3. To ensure that all parties feel positive about the resolution so future work together can be productive
Powerlessness and Empowerment
When staff experience conflict, powerlessness and empowerment, as well as aggressiveness and passive-aggressiveness, become important. When staff members feel that they are not recognized, appreciated, or paid attention to, then they feel powerless. What happens in a work environment when staff feel powerless? First, staff members do not feel they can make an impact; they are unable to change situations they think need to be changed. Staff members will not be as creative in approaching problems. They may feel they are responsible for tasks yet have no control or power to effect change with these tasks. The team community will be affected negatively, and eventually the team may feel it cannot make change happen. Staff may make any of the following comments: “Don’t bother trying to make a difference,” “I can’t make a difference here,” and “Who listens to us?” Morale deteriorates as staff feel more and more powerless. New staff will soon pick up on the feeling of powerlessness. In some respects, the powerlessness really does diminish any effort for change. As was discussed in Chapter 3, responding to change effectively is very important today. In addition, when staff feel powerless, this greatly impacts the organizational culture.
Power is about influencing decisions, controlling resources, and affecting behavior. It is the ability to get things done—access resources and information, and use them to make decisions. Power can be used constructively or destructively. The power a person has originates from the person’s personal qualities and characteristics, as well as the person’s position. Some people have qualities that make others turn to them—people trust them, consider their advice helpful, and so on. A person’s position, such as a team leader or nurse manager, has associated power.
Power is not stagnant. It changes as it is affected by the situation. There are a number of sources of power. Each one can be useful depending on the circumstances and the goal. An individual may have several sources of power. The common sources of power include the following: