After reading this article you will learn about the relationship between conflict and organisational performance.
Organisational performance is low when conflict is at two extremes: high (Point C) or low (Point A). Organisational performance is high at moderate levels of conflict.
1. At low level of conflict, that is, point A, there is usually mutuality of opinion, people agree with each other and there is no stimulation to change. People are not adaptive to environmental challenges and, therefore, do not search for new ideas. The organisational performance, thus, tends to below.
2. At high level of conflict, that is, point C, people do not agree with each other. There is lack of cooperation amongst their activities and behaviour. This leads to lack of discipline in the organisation resulting in low organisational productivity.
3. At optimum level of conflict, that is, point B, people disagree with each other resulting in new ideas. People think differently in a constructive way. New solutions are developed to deal with problems and achieve the goals through optimum utilisation of resources.
When people work as individuals and groups, their work and relationships may not always be smooth in conduct. Disagreements occur, there are differences in interpretation of facts, differences based on behavioural expectations, people compete with one another, protect their values and hold opinions different from others.
This results in conflicts. Conflict does not mean fight. It is disagreement due to opposing ideas and perceptions amongst individuals. It can take place between individuals, between members of same group, different groups and between organisations. It can arise between line and staff, different functional heads (production and sales manager) at different levels in different degrees.
The traditional view of conflict viewed it as bad. It was considered harmful for organisational functioning. It was related to hostility, antagonism and unpleasantness. Conflict meant something wrong in the organisation. It meant that managers fail to apply sound management principles in managing organisations. If these principles are properly applied, conflict would disappear.
Conflict is destructive when it:
1. Takes attention away from other important activities,
2. Undermines morale or self-concept,
3. Reduces cooperation,
4. Increases or sharpens differences, and
5. Leads to irresponsible and harmful behaviour, such as fighting or name-calling.
The traditional view is replaced with the current view (interactionist view) where behavioural researchers view conflict as good provided it is properly managed. Conflict is inevitable and can make organisations more effective. It leads to search for better solutions and, therefore, can be considered as an instrument of organisational change and innovation.
It spurts motivation, creativity, initiatives and raises organisational performance. Excessive conflict is undesirable but there is an optimum point that maximises performance. This depends upon the situation and the people involved.
Conflict is constructive when it:
1. Results in clarification of important problems and issues,
2. Results in solutions to problems,
3. Involves people in resolving issues important to them,
4. Causes authentic communication,
5. Helps release emotion, anxiety and stress,
6. Builds cooperation amongst people through learning more about each other, and
7. Helps individuals develop understanding and skills.