The management process involves using resources to get things done by carrying out activities in a logical sequence to reach goals. Management also involves functions that are important for completing the actions necessary to continue the management process. As shown in Appendix I, these functions include planning, organizing, directing and controlling actions to complete a managed process (Murugan, 2004). Additionally, management is something that is essential in business as well as everyday life.
Life often requires one to manage various aspects of situations and circumstances. Effective management is essential to reaching desired outcomes from dealing with these situations and circumstances. Merriam-Webster defines management as “the conducting or supervising of something” or a “judicious use of means to accomplish an end” (Management, n.d.). Often, when people think of management they think about businesses. However, management happens in everyday life from personal experiences as well.
A Life Shaping Experience
One experience that shaped my life was being in a car accident when my sister was nine months pregnant with my niece. This was definitely an eye-opening experience. It was the summer of 2002 and my sister and I were on our way to one of her doctor’s appointments. I was driving at the time. I remember riding down a one-way street with two lanes and I was driving in the left lane. That day, as I approached an intersection, the driver of a car coming up beside me in the right lane suddenly decided she wanted to turn left at the intersection. The problem was she didn’t bother to make her way into the left lane first. She just turned left, from the right lane, and started coming toward my car. As she did that, I instinctively tried to veer left in an attempt to get her to miss hitting us. While my maneuver lessened the impact, she still hit us on the passenger side where my sister was sitting, and then she lost control and ran into a utility pole. At the same time, the light was turning red and there we were in the intersection with oncoming cars approaching. Thankfully, they all had time to stop before hitting us. No one was seriously hurt, but both cars were seriously damaged.
That experience shaped the way I look at how things can change for a person so quickly. It can be from one day to another or one minute to the next. I also often think about how that situation could have been a lot worse. The following analysis of the situation highlights common management principles and how they were effective.
Perception of the Situation
Perception plays a vital role in how a person reacts to situations and circumstances they experience. Perception often serves as a guide to critical decision making and sometimes leads people to act or react in certain ways. BusinessDictionary.com defines perception as “The process by which people translate sensory impressions into a coherent and unified view of the world around them” (Perception, n.d.). This simply means that people develop opinions about what they encounter from the way they feel, or what they see, taste, touch or hear. The senses play a major role in perception, even when what is perceived is not necessarily what is real or what is completely revealed.
My initial perception of this experience included anger and resentment that the situation was not my fault because the other driver pulled into my lane by erroneously trying to turn left from the right lane. I perceived this as one of those being at the wrong place at the wrong time situations.
Change in Perception
Previously, I had knowledge of other people’s car accidents but I had never been in one. I knew about negative outcomes where people had gotten seriously hurt and were not able to simply walk away from the accident and take themselves to the hospital for a checkup, like we did. They were taken away in ambulances. Consequently, as I became more involved in what had actually happened and seeing how it could have been worse, my initial perception about the situation changed.
The fact that no one was seriously injured and that no other cars became involved in the accident, I began to think about the situation as not being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but maybe we were at the right place at the right time because it could have been a detour from something bad happening later. Maybe the delay of this situation saved us from a worse situation. Also, the fact that this situation turned out as well as it did reminded me that I can never be too careful and to monitor my right side more often when driving.
New View of the Situation
My new view of this situation helped to explain what had taken place. True, the other driver was at fault, but I was not exactly on guard either. My sister and I were having a conversation and as I approached the intersection, I did not glance in my mirrors or look over my shoulder to check for an oncoming car. I know this is not always necessary but it is something that I usually did anyway. I just didn’t this time. Perhaps another explanation could be that it served as a wake-up call for me to drive more defensively.
Often, someone may perceive a situation based on what they initially see about that situation, then as time goes on, that person’s feelings can change to a revised perception. The revised perception I began to form about the experience opened my mind to a whole new view. With my senses, I saw the damage done to both cars and I saw the other driver’s car crashed into the utility pole. I saw that my sister and I were not hurt nor was the other driver. I could hear the police sirens coming down the street, so even if it had been worse, there was help quickly on the way. I did not feel any pain or signs of whiplash approaching. Therefore, my perception changed to that of being glad to be alive and well, instead of being angry because some materials things were damaged.
Conflict and its Source
All conflict involves players in the situation and a procuring cause of the conflict. With my situation, the conflict and its source was the other driver’s bad judgment causing her to be at fault for the accident. To manage the conflict, it became necessary to identify its source, including constructive and destructive elements of the conflict and also it was helpful to examine the outcome of the conflict. Conflict management involves interpersonal and intrapersonal and analyses.
Barki & Hartwick (2004) refer to interpersonal conflict as “interpersonal conflict as a dynamic process that occurs between interdependent parties as they experience negative emotional reactions to perceived disagreements” (p. 1). My sister and I, along with the driver of the other car, had an interpersonal relationship put together by the experience of the accident. We all shared negative emotional reactions to the situation and were in disagreement about who was at fault. The driver of the other car acted like it was my fault. That is definitely where most of the conflict came into play.
Barki & Hartwick (2004) explain that interpersonal conflict has three properties associated with it, and these are disagreement about a situation, negative emotions attached to the disagreement, and interference of encountered when trying to resolve the disagreement.
When people experience intrapersonal conflict, they feel like they are victims of a situation of which they have little or no control. They also feel a sort of tug-of-war within themselves with one side wanting to do something and another side of them wanting to do something different. There is dualism in the decisive process when intrapersonal conflict is involved (Mosak & LeFevre, 1976). This dualism serves as a barrier to making quick decisions or to making accurate assessments quickly when faced with a conflict situation.
An example of intrapersonal conflict I experienced with the car accident was whether or not to be angry at the situation or to just be grateful it was as well as it was. It was sort of a war between the good and bad, but the good won out in this case. In addition, it seemed to me that the driver of the other car may have been going through an intrapersonal conflict experience as well. She was on the phone with her dad and telling him about the situation and she seemed angry, like it wasn’t her fault in the first place. I perceived her intrapersonal conflict to be figuring out how to explain to her dad about how she damaged the car and perhaps how much the insurance will increase because of it.
The combination of all parties’ intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict created a systemic awareness of the experience of being involved in the car accident and began to cause various perceptions about all involved. In other words, one thing lead to another and each party formed views and began to contemplate the outcome, as well as how other issues affected the situation.
Interoperation of the Situation
One truth in the matter with the situation at hand was the fact that both drivers were both females. However, they were from different cultural backgrounds. Oftentimes, culture and background differences can play a role in how the interoperation of a situation is perceived by all parties involved, as well as outsiders. One aspect of how the at-fault driver was perceived involved the fact that she was obviously from a well-to-do family. This may be one of the reasons why she seemed particularly annoyed that someone she may have perceived as lower than she was caused her to hit a utility pole.
Interoperation aspects of the situation involved the ability to exchange useful information, as defined by TheFreeDictionary.com (Interoperable, n.d.). There was conflict with the interoperation of the accident situation, because the at-fault driver refused to speak to me and the police had to communicate with her to get the insurance information.
Workplace Conflict and Communication
Conflict and communication issues in this personal situation are similar to conflict experienced in the business setting as well. Conflict management is a key concern of businesses and organizations because conflicts are a part of dealing with employees within the working environment. There can be discord in the workplace brought on by interoperation between co-workers, vendors, management, clients or shareholders of a company. This is where efficient and effective conflict management can make a difference via initiatives through workplace communication.
Efficient communications systems within the workplace allow for resolution of conflicts, and this is important because the decision making process is affected by conflict in the workplace. This can threaten the success of an organization; therefore, a method of conflict resolution that is consistent and effective should be in place.
According to De Dreu & Gelfand (2008), communication processes in the workplace can serve to mediate conflict. These communication processes consists of verbal, nonverbal and technological methods. This is also a way for organizations to manage their conflicts and decide if they will do it formally or informally. Effective conflict management leads to successful conflict resolution.
Conflict Management vs. Conflict Resolution
Many people may not know that conflict management is different from conflict resolution. BusinessDictionary.com defines conflict management as “The practice of recognizing and dealing with disputes in a rational, balanced and effective way” (Conflict Management, n.d.). This involves communication, problem solving and negotiation within the organization. Conflict resolution, as defined by BusinessDictionary.com, is “Intervention aimed at alleviating or eliminating discord through conciliation” (Conflict Resolution, n.d.).
According to Mitchell (2010), conflict in the workplace can be both negative and positive. Sometimes conflict facilitates growth in the workplace by opening up opportunities to make things better. Conflict management is the process of just dealing with the conflict, but conflict resolution is a way that people in the workplace can come together to find solutions to problems and make positive changes. Conflict resolution can motivate people in the workplace to come together and use positive energy to find creative alternatives to problems and also to provide adequate communication and feedback across the board to increase understanding (Mitchell, 2010). Additionally, conflict resolution can serve as an integral part of conflict management strategy.
Conflict Management Strategies and Guiding Principles
The incorporation of conflict resolution techniques is an effective part of a successful conflict management strategy. According to Jones & Brinkert (2008), another effective technique is the use of conflict coaching which is an intervention process with a conflict resolution professional. Conflict coaching is basically an alternative dispute resolution process to train management to be better supervisors and mentors in the workplace. This strategy can serve as a positive guiding principle for an organization by managing conflict responsibly and ethically (Jones & Brinkert, 2008).
Conflict Management is a System
Conflict management is a system that is relevant in both personal and organizational settings, as explained above. Personal conflict management is more related to intrapersonal conflict which a person experiences when feeling confused about what decision to make in a particular situation. They must go through a process of decision making that involves listening to both their good and not so good thoughts. Personal conflict is a struggle within oneself.
In contrast, the process involved with organizational conflict management deals with opposing parties who share the same emotions in a shared situation or problem. Organizational conflict management is best handled through adequate communication and negotiation between opposing parties. This process is a dispute resolution process that facilitates an equitable solution that is agreeable to all concerned.
Conflict Management, Leadership and Career Advancement
Whether in the organization or in personal life, conflict management is crucial for leadership and in the case of the organizational setting, it is important for career advancement. An effective leader is also a manager who knows how to coach others in resolving disputes to reach shared goals. Bagshaw (1998) states the qualities of a good manager include adequate education and training, desirable personality traits and leadership abilities.
The manager has to direct, supervise, guide and lead the efforts and energies of the employees. It is rightly said that it is very easy to work but it is very difficult to get the work done by others. The manager cannot perform all the activities of the business himself alone, therefore he should have the quality of leadership, so that he may extract the maximum worth of all the individuals. (Murugan, 2004, p. 443)
A manager with good leadership skills understands that conflicts arise in organizations because people have differing opinions. However, these opinions are catalysts to growth. When people have opinions it leads to shared ideas which lead to positive development within an organization. According to Bagshaw (1998), without opinions it is difficult for people to develop ideas for growth. Differing opinions can help resolve conflicts through mediation and turn destructive conflict into constructive conflict. This is key to good leadership and when leaders are effective they are poised for career advancement opportunities.
Management involves both personal and professional processes to facilitate problem resolution and reaching goals through the shared initiatives of people working together. These processes must be led by adequate leadership to prove successful. Consequently, adequate leadership includes having a manager or management team with the capability of directing and guiding others to perform to the best of their ability. This means the right perceptions need to be realized so that teamwork and positive communications are shared as well.
Functions of Management
Organizational management covers various categories within an organization, and the functions of management as mentioned in the first paragraph of this report are essential to every category. The categories in an organization basically include production, marketing, financial and personnel management. These categories work in concert with each other to make up the business organization. Below is an illustration of how an organizational management process is put together (Murugan, 2004, p. 25).
An illustration of how an organizational management process is put together.
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