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A conflict management strategy exists in all organisations. It may be deliberate, or it may have developed by default. What counts, is behaviour and attitude.

Behaviour: how                        engaged the organisation is with its stakeholders
Attitude: how                            adversarial the organisation is in dealing stakeholders

A highly engaged and non-adversarial organisation would be a collaborative one as illustrated below:


Organisations don’t fit in to any one category exclusively. They are high, medium or low, in each of the four – coercive, evasive, collaborative, or detached.

18.2 An example of the results of a conflict management strategies survey looks something like this:

NOT ADVERSARIAL             AND ENGAGED                         = COLLABORATIVE                      3.29
NOT ENGAGED                   AND NOT ADVERSARIAL          = DETACHED                                 4.80
ADVERSARIAL                     AND ENGAGED                          = COERCIVE                                   5.10
ADVERSARIAL                     AND NOT ENGAGED                 = EVASIVE                                      6.80

The above organisation would be highest in evasive behaviour and lowest in collaborative behaviour.


These results come from views on the ways that people in the organisation tend to:

  • disagree without becoming angry.
  • openly share relevant information, rather than secretively withhold it.
  • go directly to the person with whom they are in conflict to resolve it.
  • get together on their own to resolve the conflict cooperatively.
  • avoid others with whom they are upset.
  • keep score and try to get even.
  • know how to resolve conflicts cooperatively.
  • avoid dealing with conflict directly by complaining to others.
  • take personal responsibility for resolving conflicts to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.
  • work together to find an agreeable solution.
  • withhold information that may be needed by others.
  • get someone else to take care of solving the conflict for them.
  • approach conflict as a competition to be won.
  • engage in gossip and feed the rumour mill.
  • employees often use threats to get their way.
  • reprimand tend to occur publicly [in front of other people.


  • powerful people often win conflicts by dominating others.
  • managers tend to dictate solutions when they are in conflict with employees they supervise.
  • hostile arguments between people happen frequently.
  • people gang up to pressure those with whom they disagree.
  • managers often use threats to get employees to do what the managers want them to do.
  • managers make the decision when there is a conflict between employees.
  • people don’t seem to notice when conflicts occur.
  • there is no formal process for effectively resolving conflicts.
  • people are apathetic – they don’t seem to care about anything.
  • people pretend everything is ok even though there are openly unresolved problems.
  • people pretend conflicts don’t exist.
  • people recognize conflicts early and resolve them before they escalate into major problems.


Effective teamwork will not take the place of knowing how to do the job or how to manage the work. Poor teamwork, however, can prevent effective final performance. And it can also prevent team members from gaining satisfaction in being a member of a team and the organization ~ Robert F. Bales