What are the causes of organizational conflict?

In order to survive, a company must focus its efforts on generating revenue in the face of competition. According to Ryan Bannerman Associates, sometimes the need to focus on beating the competition can get derailed by internal organizational conflict. In order to keep employees focused on being productive and bettering the competition, it is necessary to understand the causes of organizational conflict.

Managerial Expectations – It is the job of an employee to meet the expectations of his manager, but if those expectations are misunderstood, conflict can arise. Managers need to spend time clearly communicating their goals to employees and then confirming those goals in writing. A manager should also encourage his/her employees to ask questions about their goals, and hold regular meetings to discuss the goals and how best to reach them.

Breakdown in Communication – If a department requires information from another department in order to do its job, and the second department does not respond to the request for information, a conflict can arise. Some interdepartmental disagreements might trigger a nonresponsive attitude that can quickly become an internal conflict. Another way of creating this sort of conflict is by giving a circular response such as an issue being perpetually “under review.” When people or departments are late in responding to information requests, or they are withholding information on purpose, it is best to address the situation immediately with a personal meeting with both sides to resolve the situation.

Misunderstanding the Information – According to mediation expert Robert D. Benjamin, internal conflict can sometimes arise as the result of a simple misunderstanding. One person may misunderstand information, and that can trigger a series of conflicts. In order to deal with this kind of situation, it is best to have the person admit her misunderstanding and work with the affected parties to remedy the situation. For example, if the production manager misunderstands the product manufacturing goals, then the sales manager may not have enough product to sell. Taking responsibility for a mistake can quickly diffuse a potential organizational conflict.

Lack of Accountability – Organizational conflict might arise from frustration. One source of frustration is a lack of accountability. If something has gone wrong, and no one is willing to take responsibility for the problem, this lack of accountability can start to permeate throughout the entire company until the issue is resolved. One way to combat a lack of accountability is to have anyone who comes into contact with a document sign his name to it and include the date. The paper trail may sometimes find the source of the problem, which can then be addressed.

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