Stress and Conflict Management

Conflict may occur in any work environment, whether it is in the clinical setting, another department, or another organization. It is important to understand how conflict arises and how conflict is managed through effective communication.

The behavior of a leader has a direct impact on the motivation of his or her team. It is crucial for a leader to understand how his or her behavior and conflict-handling ability impact the care of patients.

Here is a scenario of a leader who is willing to handle conflicts in his or her workplace.

You are promoted to a management position in a small organization. There are four full-time members and three part-time members. You have a department manager currently overseeing the operations. You are excited to begin with your new assignment and have completed orientation. You heard some rumblings from the staff development team, “You have your work cut out for you in this department!” It does not sound promising, yet you are filled with energy, a positive attitude but a bit concerned as you do not want to appear bossy. You lack a bit of confidence since they are seasoned team members and you are new to the organization.

Once you begin your first day, you decide to meet with everyone as a group and individually over the next few days. What you are uncovering is disturbing and you quickly realize that the team members have lots of conflicts within the department. In a nutshell, this is what you have discovered:

  • The department manager thinks she is in charge since clients, customers, or patients have specialized needs. She is stern faced and does not seem to smile, yet she does not admit it is her or her department’s fault if there is an error. She seems to enjoy the increasing conflict among the unit as it takes any “pressure” off her and she can continue to “tell people what to do.”
  • Two full-time administrative staff members do not like each other and refuse to work together. One feels the other cooks “strange food” and cannot understand her when she speaks, and she is too quiet. The other staff member feels the first one is too outspoken and not gracious and hurries through her assignments. They share a small office and their work is critical to the success of the organization as they oversee all billing, accounts payable and receivable, and schedule the large projects and services to other organizations. The rest of the staff members avoid going to this office as the tension is clearly increased in this room.
  • The part-time staff feel they are not being offered any extra shifts and sometimes they are asked not to come to work if the day is slow. They feel they are not valued and are demotivated by less pay. This is a critical time for them due to the economy crisis. When they are at work, they often bring their home problems with them and seem stressed when they have to work with the other team members.

Answer the following questions:

  • How will you address each area and improve understanding, collaboration, motivation, and positive attitude?
  • How does emotional intelligence play a role in encouraging the staff to cooperate and to be willing to make behavior changes?
  • What behavior theory will you research to develop your thoughts when you speak to each staff member?
  • How important is decreasing overall conflict in the workplace?
  • How can you develop a win-win approach?
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