The Foundation Coalition offered several options to deal with conflict. They suggest ways that teachers can have students learn to deal with conflict they face in their daily lives. I translated this in to practices that can be used by mangers in an organizational learning setting. Learning to compete, avoid, accommodate, compromise and collaborate with others on issues is a valuable skill. Knowing what strategy to use in each case allows the individaul to be assertive or cooperative. The issue sometimes dictates the strategy an individual will use. Asking some other questions about relationships, importance, energy, and potential consequences (no action or ramificiations) also shapes the skill to be used. Once the teacher is sure the students knows how these strategies work, students can create conflict management plans, collaborate and communicate with others, and learn to reach consensus on issues. Everyone giving a little usually ensures buy in from individuals.
Conflict occurs when an individual or a group are not getting what they need or want (as in their own self-interest). The author discusses the early signs of conflict, some indicators, types (constructive or destructive), and techniques for avoiding and resolving Board - Superintendent conflict. The discussion on elements of a strong Board - Superintendent partnership are stated. Quite often conflict can be reached by consensus and there are 6 ways given as guidelines to reach that goal. I wish I would have knwn this in my first superintendency. It sure would have avoided several issues with the school board. It is hard to build the concept of teamwhen there are five other people and you. Unless the Board and Superintendent can minimize conflict their relationship is doomed to failure.
Conflict may provide challenges or opportunities to improve an organization. Several points were made about how contention can threaten one's self-image. There is a tendency to fight it out or flee the scene. Yielding or avoiding conflict does not solve anything. Effective dialogue reduces stress. We should seek to understand others then attempt to be understood. Listen then speak. By focusing on a person's needs instead of a person's position, we can get a clearer picture of what the real issue is. Learn to disagree amicably. Sometimes a mediator or an arbitrator is needed to settle the conflict. Learning to be a good listener is the key to repairing conflicting points of view. There should not be winners and losers when settling a conflict.