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.
Manion, J. (2011). From management to leadership: Strategies for transforming health care (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Chapter 7, “Coaching and Developing Others” (pp. 339–341)Review the scripting model on these pages. In this chapter, Manion discusses motivation and explains how leaders can make the most of it through coaching. She explains the leader’s role, the coaching role, and the difference between coaching and being a coach.
Alichnie, C. (2012). Social media and nursing. Pennsylvania Nurse, 67(1), 3–10. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
This article discusses the use of social media in nursing. The author determines that social media can be a means to an end if it’s used wisely, professionally, and within legal and ethical boundaries.
Barrett, A., Piatek, C., Korber, S., & Padula, C. (2009). Lessons learned from a lateral violence and team-building intervention. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 33(4), 342–351. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
This study focuses on nurse interaction in relation to lateral violence. The authors conclude that the key to a cohesive work environment is a nurse leader who is able to drive and sustain change.
Barton, S. A., Alamri, M. S., Cella, D., Cherry, K. L., Curll, K., Hallman, B. D., et al. (2011). Dissolving clique behavior. Nursing Management, 42(8), 32–37. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
This article addresses clique behavior in health care settings. The argument is that the current economic climate encourages regression in health care workers.
Brinkert, R. (2010). A literature review of conflict communication causes, costs, benefits and interventions in nursing. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(2), 145–156. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
The author assesses the effects of conflict communication on nursing. The study concludes that conflict will always be a part of nursing but that it can be mitigated if nurse managers use employee-effective intervention methods.
Cronquist, R., & Spector, N. (2011). Nurses and social media: Regulatory concerns and guidelines. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 2(3), 37–40. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.