Author Topic: Dealing with Conflict  (Read 682 times)

Jewel

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Dealing with Conflict
« on: October 04, 2012, 07:14:50 AM »
Conflict occurs when individuals or groups are not obtaining what they need or want and are seeking their own self-interest. Sometimes the individual is not aware of the need and unconsciously starts to act out. Other times, the individual is very aware of what he or she wants and actively works at achieving the goal.

About conflict:

    Conflict is inevitable;
    Conflict develops because we are dealing with people's lives, jobs, children, pride, self-concept, ego and sense of mission or purpose;
    Early indicators of conflict can be recognized;
    There are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work;
    Although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved.

Beginnings of conflict:

    Poor communication
    Seeking power
    Dissatisfaction with management style
    Weak leadership
    Lack of openness
    Change in leadership

Conflict indicators:

    Body language
    Disagreements, regardless of issue
    Withholding bad news
    Surprises
    Strong public statements
    Airing disagreements through media
    Conflicts in value system
    Desire for power
    Increasing lack of respect
    Open disagreement
    Lack of candor on budget problems or other sensitive issues
    Lack of clear goals
    No discussion of progress, failure relative to goals, failure to evaluate the superintendent fairly, thoroughly or at all.

Conflict is destructive when it:

    Takes attention away from other important activities
    Undermines morale or self-concept
    Polarizes people and groups, reducing cooperation
    Increases or sharpens difference
    Leads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

Conflict is constructive when it:

    Results in clarification of important problems and issues
    Results in solutions to problems
    Involves people in resolving issues important to them
    Causes authentic communication
    Helps release emotion, anxiety, and stress
    Builds cooperation among people through learning more about each other;
    joining in resolving the conflict
    Helps individuals develop understanding and skills

Techniques for avoiding and/or resolving (board-superintendent) conflict:

    Meet conflict head on
    Set goals
    Plan for and communicate frequently
    Be honest about concerns
    Agree to disagree - understand healthy disagreement would build better decisions
    Get individual ego out of management style
    Let your team create - people will support what they help create
    Discuss differences in values openly
    Continually stress the importance of following policy
    Communicate honestly - avoid playing "gotcha" type games
    Provide more data and information than is needed
    Develop a sound management system

Causes of board-superintendent conflict:

How does a school board cause conflict with a superintendent?

    Trying to be administrators; overstepping authority
    Making promises as board members individually
    Involving themselves in labor relations or budgetary minutia
    Not doing their "homework" and failing to prepare for meetings
    Not following procedures for handling complaints
    Not keeping executive session information confidential
    Failing to act on sensitive issues
    Failing to be open and honest with the superintendent
    Making decisions based on preconceived notions
    Not supporting the superintendent - lack of loyalty
    Springing surprises at meetings
    Having hidden agendas

How does a superintendent cause conflict with a school board?

    Not treating board members alike
    Not informing the board members of public concerns
    Not providing adequate financial data or adequate information
    Using poor public management practices
    Making public statements before informing the board
    Failing to be open and honest with the board
    Not providing alternatives in an objective manner
    Not adjusting to the new reality of an involved board
    Not support the board - lack of loyalty
    Springing surprises at meetings
    Having hidden agendas

Elements of a strong board-superintendent partnerships

    Full disclosure
    Frequent two-way communication
    Careful planning
    Informal interaction
    Periodic evaluation
    Mutual support

Courageous decision controversies:

The controversies usually involve:

    Changes in the way "we've always done things"
    Notions of fundamental values
    Determined, articulate advocates for every side
    Inability to compromise
    Rampant rumors
    Threats of retaliation at the polls at the next bond, levy or school
    Board election

Resolving Conflict

Searching for the causes of conflict is essential to be successful in resolving the conflict. Nine possible causes of conflict include:

    Conflict with self
    Needs or wants are not being met
    Values are being tested
    Perceptions are being questioned
    Assumptions are being made
    Knowledge is minimal
    Expectations are too high/too low
    Personality, race, or gender differences are present