Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict15th March 2021
Functional conflict is also known as constructive conflict. Such conflict will have positive effects on individuals, groups and organizations. Such conflict is useful in order to solve problems related to individuals and groups. Functional conflict is important for effective performance due to the following reasons:
- It ventilates tension from the organization.
- It increases individual’s efforts at work.
- It helps thinking analytically.
- It provides foundation for organizational change and development.
- It provides an individual a chance to think again, undertake self introspection and have a second look at the existing things, like procedures, policies, equipment, behaviors etc.
- It leads to innovation and at times to new direction. It is, therefore, even necessary for the survival and growth organizations.
- It helps to seek classification and generate search behavior.
- When conflict is developed, attention is immediately drawn to the malfunctioning parts of a system. It is an indication that the situation calls for improvement. Conflict is, therefore, an essential portion of a cybernetic system.
- At times, it is also used as a means to certain ends and to create confusion or set subordinates against each other in order to maintain the interested parties own position. It may not be a positive outcome in the strict sense of the term from the organizational point of view, but it is certainly a management strategy toward of problems temporarily. It may be viewed as an unavoidable cost of the pursuit of one’s aspirations.
- Long standing problems, which continue to agitate people’s mind in surface, they are able to release their tensions and unburden themselves. They display creativity in identifying solutions and dealing with problems.
- It serves as a cementing force in a group and incredible unity is witnessed even in a heterogeneous group at times of tension.
- It energizes people, leads to mild stimulation and one is at one’s best in times of crisis. It helps them test their capacities.
- Release of Tension:
Conflict when expressed can clear the air and reduce the tension which might otherwise remain suppressed. Suppression of tension can lead to imaginative distortion of truth, sense of frustration and tension, high mental exaggerations and biased opinions resulting in fear and distrust. When members express themselves, they get some psychological satisfaction. This also leads to reduction of stress among the involved members.
- Analytical Thinking:
When a group is faced with a conflict, the members display analytical thinking in identifying various alternatives. In absence of conflict, they might not have been creative or even might have been lethargic. The conflicts may induce challenge to such views, opinions, rules, policies, goals and plans which would require a critical analysis in order to justify these as they are or make such changes that may be required.
- Group Cohesiveness:
Inter group conflict brings about closeness and solidarity among the group members. It develops group loyalty and greater sense of group identity in order to compete with the outsiders. This increases the degree of group cohesiveness which can be utilized by the management for the attainment of organisational goals in an effective manner. As cohesiveness increases, differences are forgotten.
Conflicts promote competition and hence it results in increased efforts. Some persons are highly motivated by conflict and severe competition. Such conflict and competition, thus, lead to high level of effort and output.
Conflicts test the abilities and capacities of the individuals and groups. It creates challenges for them for which they have to be dynamic and creative. If they are able to overcome the challenge, it will lead to search for alternatives to existing patterns which leads to organisational change and development.
- Stimulation for Change:
Sometimes, conflict stimulates change among the people. When they are faced with a conflict, they might change their attitudes and be ready to change themselves to meet the requirements of the situation.
- Identification of Weaknesses:
When a conflict arises, it may help in identifying the weaknesses in the system. Once the management comes to know about the weaknesses, if can always take the steps to remove them.
Conflict creates awareness of what problems exist, who is involved and how to solve the problem. Taking cue from this, management can take the necessary action.
- High Quality Decisions:
When conflicting, persons express their opposing views and perspectives, high quality decisions result. The people share their information and check each other reasoning to develop new decisions.
Conflict adds to the fun of working with others when not taken seriously. Many people find conflict enjoyable to competitive sports, games, movies, plays and books.
Dysfunctional conflict is also known as destructive conflict. Many times conflict may be detrimental and disastrous. Such conflict has negative effect on individuals, groups and the organizational levels. The effects might be diverting energies, hurting group cohesion, promoting interpersonal hostilities and creating negative working environment. Due to the dysfunctional conflict and its negative effects, employees become dissatisfied with the working environment and as a result, absenteeism will increase and productivity will decline. A few dysfunctional effects of rising conflict include:
- Increasing conflict will result in delays in meeting schedules, decrease in the quality of goods and services and finally will increase customer complaints.
- It is undesirable if it creates a climate of distrust and suspicion among people, if some people feel are defeated and demanded and it develops antagonism instead of spirit of cooperation.
- In the absence of smooth communication at the workplace, there will be problems in coordinating activities.
- With the increasing conflict in the organization, people start to divert themselves from the real work schedule and keep less interest and show less energy, and this will ultimately affect the achievement of organizational goals.
- The increasing negative emotions at the workplace can be quite stressful.
- When conflict does not lead to solution of a problem, it is unproductive and investment of time and effort goes waste.
- As a consequence of conflict, there may be intensification of internalization of sub-unit goals which may result in the neglect of overall organizational goals.
- It is seriously harmful if it distracts attention from basic organizational objectives and makes people work for their defeat.
- When management loses objectivity and treats disagreement as equivalent to disloyalty and rebellion, an opportunity for creativity should be deemed to have been lost. It may even pour oil over troubled waters, exploit differences to strengthen itself and weakens others, and accept resolutions capable of different interpretation.
- High Employee Turnover:
In case of intra-individual and inter-individual conflicts particularly, some dynamic personnel may leave the organisation, if they fail to resolve the conflict in their favour. In this case, organisation will be the sufferer in the long run due to the loss of key people.
Sometimes, conflict can cause high level of tensions among the individuals and groups and a stage may come when it becomes difficult for the management to resolve the conflicts. This will result in anxiety, frustration, uncertainty and hostility among the members.
Conflict will result in discontentment to the losing party, who will wait for an opportunity to settle the score with the winning party. All this tussle will result in less concentration on the job and as a result, the productivity will suffer.
- Climate of Distrust:
Conflict often creates a climate of distrust and suspicion among the members of the group as well the organisation. The degree of cohesiveness will be less as the discords will be more. The concerned people will have negative feelings towards each other and try to avoid interaction with each other.
- Personal Vs. Organisational Goals:
Conflicts may distract the attention of the members of the organisation from organisational goals. They may waste their time and energy in finding ways and tactics to come out as winners in the conflict. Personal victory becomes more important than the organisational goals.
- Conflict as a Cost:
Conflict is not necessarily a cost for the individuals. But the conflicts may weaken the organisation as a whole, if the management is not able to handle them properly. If the management tries to suppress conflicts, they may acquire gigantic proportions in the later stages. And if the management does not interfere in the earlier stages, unnecessary troubles may be invited at the later stages. It is a cost to the organisation, because resignations of personnel weaken the organisation, feeling of distrust among members have negative impact on productivity and so on.