New Study Examines Ways of Preventing Conflict in the Workplace | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

April 5, 2021by Noah Shaw0
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Summary of:

Nagibina, N., Komyshova, L., Sklyarov, K. and Sviridova, A. (2021). Key directions for determining and reducing the level of conflict of the team. E3S Web Conf., 244. https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/202124411006

Background & Theory:

Conflict is a pervasive part of our lives and can lead to positive or negative outcomes based on how it is dealt with. This study suggests ways that organizations can reduce conflict in the workplace by assessing employees at the Russian company JSC “DOM.RF.”

Question(s):

Research was analyzed by Natalya Nagibina et al. to answer the following questions:

    1. How do employees deal with conflict at the company JSC “DOM.RF”?
    2. What suggestions for preventing workplace conflict can be derived from these results?

Methods:

The authors completed this study with participants from the Russian company JSC “DOM.RF” which implements government initiatives to improve the quality and affordability of housing. In the past few years, the company expanded, adding in a service center to help with the operational functions of the business including customer service. The participants who were a part of this study work in the contact center as specialists, assisting customers and citizens on issues related to banking, mortgage lending, financing programs, and more. Specialists make up over half of the company’s employees and are likely the most exposed to conflict given that their job’s focus surrounds customer service.

15 specialists filled out a 30-question Thomas-Kilmann assessment measuring individual conflict styles. The styles measured were employees’ levels of confrontation, cooperation, compromise, evasion, and adaptation when in conflict. The authors analyzed the data from these questionnaires by grouping results into categories based on the degree of manifestation of each of these styles—low, medium (average), and high—and presented suggestions based on these results.

Results:

The results for each of the styles of the Thomas Kilmann Instrument (TKI) were the following: Just under half (47%) of the participants scored low in confrontation with 53% scoring average and high. 73% of participants had a high or average intensity of being cooperative in conflict, with 27% of employees scoring low in this area. 87% of participants showed high or average levels of compromise, evasion, and adaptation when dealing with conflict. On the contrary, 13% indicated low levels of compromising, evasive, and adapting behavior in conflict.

The authors took this data and grouped the results into whether or not the prevalence of certain conflict styles contribute to its constructive resolution. For example, the authors suggested that in general, high/medium levels of cooperation and compromise, and low levels of confrontation, evasion and adaptation could lead to the constructive resolution of conflict. On the other hand, high/medium levels of confrontation, evasion, and adaptation, as well as low levels of cooperation and compromise may not lead to the constructive resolution of conflict. The authors found that approximately 47% of the participants generally contribute constructively to the resolution of conflict and approximately 53% of the participants generally do not.

What We Can Learn:

With this data, the authors presented several suggestions for JSC “DOM.RF” and organizations in general:

  • Organizations should offer conflict resolution training to employees to allow them to impartially evaluate conflicts, adjust their behavior mid-conflict to reduce the chances of negative consequences from conflict, and by extension, increase team coordination and cohesion.
  • Consider offering the TKI to employees to understand better their own conflict styles. Additionally, utilizing the TKI could be helpful in hiring and onboarding processes.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: The TKI can be a helpful tool for consultants in demonstrating to clients how people react to conflict differently. Consider implementing it in coaching and training efforts.

For Everyone: Self-awareness of your own behaviors in the workplace especially in regards to conflict is important for anyone. Contact us to receive conflict resolution training to help you and your coworkers become more self-aware on how you deal with conflict.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems. His writing on the latest workplace conflict resolution research has been featured on Mediate.com.

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