Strategies for managing conflict within a team
Conflict is often regarded as an inevitable part of any work environment. Team members will have different perspectives, values, beliefs and goals and, in certain circumstances, these differences may escalate into conflict. While conflict cannot be avoided, it can be minimised and resolved. This article will discuss the strategies required by head nurses/nurse leaders in order to effectively manage conflict within a team.
In recent years, organisations have witnessed an increasingly diverse workforce. As a consequence of such social diversification, conflict can occur (Labrague et al, 2018), but what exactly is conflict? According to Rahim (2011) it can broadly be defined as an interactive process manifested in incompatibility, disagreement or dissonance within or between social entities and can occur as a consequence of opposing views, opinions, interests and preferences.
Conflict amongst healthcare professionals has been recognised as a significant issue both in the UK within the NHS and globally (McKibben, 2017; ACT Academy 2018; Labrague et al, 2018). Patton (2014) suggested it may emerge as a result of several elements including complexity in the organisation, varying role expectations, interdepartmental competition, constraints in the decision-making process and personality differences. Almost et al (2016) further suggested that poor work environments, communication problems, and a lack of organisational support also contribute towards workplace conflict. This is in congruence with Erdenk and Altuntas (2017) and Labrague et al (2018) who stated that nurses, being the largest healthcare professional group, are always confronted with complex problems involving conflicts amongst other team members, managers, patients and their relatives because of the uncertainties in duties, powers and responsibilities and status differences. It is the author's opinion that a number of these factors can be extrapolated to the role of a veterinary nurse and conflict experienced within veterinary practice due to this being a similar high stress healthcare environment.