A new director decides to reorganize the department you work in. This reorganization comes about without input from the employees and many of the nurses that you oversee are feeling resentful of the change. As a nurse leader, identify factors that may lead to conflict and ways you can manage them.
Wherever there are people the ability for conflict exits. Conflict is a disagreement, opposition or clash. It can affect the person emotionally, physically and specially. It can result in a fight, discord and division. Conflict can be used to motivate; however it can be destructive and should be dealt with. According to McElhaney (n.d) nurses experience six major areas of conflict. This scenario depicts one of those areas.
1. People who have experience in an area, want to feel that their opinion is considered and valued. So, when changes are made to an area or department, in which they work, have experience and are the expert; employees want to have input. In the absence of employee participation there may be apathy, anarchy and malicious compliance. Oftentimes it leads to lack of respect within the profession and feelings of anger, diminished self-worth, and conflict.
However; as a nurse manager oftentimes, changes are made without any input from the employee and I have to manage this situation. In this case, during a staff meeting, I would discuss the changes, reasons they were made, and ask for input as to how we can implement these changes such that they work more effectively in our department. By using collaboration, my goal would be to incorporate employee feedback in areas/processes under my control. This would allow the employees to feel that they have some control over their work area, their input is valued and contribute to problem solving (Cardillo, 2011).
Other areas are:
2. People have varying opinions, come from different backgrounds and culture and have different values. When conflict arises over differing in values and cultures, then these conflicts must be dealt with. They must be discussed and a compromise reached that works for each party as well as the department (McElhaney,n.d).
3. Communication may be misunderstood and body language misconstrued (Cardillo, 2011). To confront this type of conflict, someone must be willing to speak out. Once during my 360 degree review, I received feedback that my team members felt devalued and that they were not being listened to because often times I continued typing when they came into the office; even though I coherently responded to the questions. After receiving this feedback, anytime someone comes into my office, I would sit on my hands to ensure that I pay attention and not type. When verbal communication and body language is misunderstood, the conflict must be confronted, discussed and a change must be made or an explanation given. Accommodating to meet the needs of promotes harmony and gains credits that can be used at a later date.
4. A nurse’s personal space is often invaded by other staff members, physicians, and patients. Crowded conditions and constant interruption can lead to conflict.
In this situation, I would use a combination strategy of face-to-face meeting, collaboration and benchmarking. I would start with a face to face meeting with the individual to get his/her input as to how to better design/arrange the work area to reduce stress and interruptions. I would also research what other hospitals have done in this situation and implement best practice. Then I would follow-up with the employee to ensure the implemented changes solved the problem.
5. Other causes of conflict involve organizational climate, leadership style, off-the-job problems, age pressures, job standards, and personal prejudice.
These conflicts affect each individual differently. Therefore, I would recommend the employee experiencing these conflicts or exhibiting behavior that is indicative of these stressors to the Employee Assistance Program; which consists of professionals especially skilled to assist the employee in dealing with these stresses.
6. Coping with technology changes and procedures.
To provide our patients with the best care, we have to continuously improve this mean that change is inevitable. So, during staff meetings, I cover latest techniques, updated procedures and discuss how these add value to patient care and make our job easier. Once a month a different member of the staff discusses medical article or book they have read concerning a procedure or technique that can improve our process. After their presentation, we discuss if this is something we can implement easier or should put on our wish list. Lastly, each nurse is required to obtain six hours of training a year in which the hospital pays for. Training in new technology and procedures that are introduced is required and may be used for this purpose.
There are many strategies to deal with conflict; avoidance is one. Some types of conflict if left alone, will work themselves out. However; because of the potential devastating nature of conflict; it should confronted; confront the situation and not the person. One should listen with empathy and the goal to understand the other person’s point of view and negotiate to a win-win or at the very least a win-lose solution. Even if one side has to lose, position the lost as something positive that can be built upon or negotiated later (Nursing Strategies: Countering Workplace Conflict with Positive Communication Strategies, 2011).
Cardillo, D. (November 28, 2011). Seven strategies for managing conflict Retrieved from http://news.nurse.com/article/20111128/DD01/311290003#.VJom714AKA
McElhaney R. (n.d). Conflict Management. Retrieved from
Nursing Strategies: Countering Workplace Conflict with Positive Communication