Managing Conflict in the Workplace
High-pressure environments, life-or-death implications, constant change, and long days of exhausting work … It is not surprising that conflicts arise in health care settings. In the fast-paced environment in which nurses work, small differences in decision making, processes, work ethic, and personal characteristics can quickly escalate
As a nurse manager, you need to develop and model skills that effectively address conflict situations. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, offers sound advice that can be applied to conflict management and resolution. In Habit 4, Think Win-Win, Covey (2004) explains, “[m]any people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration.” Ultimately, how you manage conflict in your setting will determine whether you foster an environment that breeds contempt or one that fosters growth.
Conflict abounds in any workplace; it is a normal part of organizational life. Instead of avoiding or ignoring conflict, the role of the nurse manager is to coach employees through conflict situations and to exercise judgment on how and when to intervene. When managed effectively and focused on substantive issues, conflict can actually lead to better outcomes. However, when interpersonal conflicts go unaddressed, employee morale and engagement–two factors that can seriously impact quality of patient care—will dwindle.
When nurse managers observe employees engaging in toxic or inappropriate workplace behaviors, they must prepare to give difficult feedback. Delivering difficult feedback can be challenging for nurse managers, as they must address employees in a way that is authoritative, supportive, and resolute. One strategy nurse managers can use to deliver difficult feedback is to employ the scripting framework. In this week’s Discussion, you gain experience with using the scripting framework to resolve a conflict situation that you have observed in your past or present workplace.
- Review this week’s Learning Resources, focusing on the various forms of conflict that can occur in the workplace.
- Consider the types of conflict, including bullying, horizontal violence, toxic and disruptive employees, misuse of social media, unbalanced power, harassment, and favoritism, that exist in your current organization or past place of employment.
- Select one type of conflict you have observed. How has conflict impacted your work environment? How have nurse mangers attempted to address conflict situations?
- Examine the six-step scripting framework for delivering difficult feedback in Chapter 7 of the course text, From Management to Leadership: Strategies for Transforming Health Care. Then, use this framework to script a conversation between you and the employee(s) involved in the conflict situation you selected.
- When drafting your script, reflect on how HR might be able to help you in addressing this issue, both before you talk to this employee and if the problem continues to exist.
By Day 4
Post a brief overview of the conflict you selected and how this specific type of conflict has impacted the work environment. Share the script you drafted and explain at least one way you would enlist HR’s help in managing this situation. Support your response by referencing authentic examples from the workplace and the Learning Resources as applicable.