Levels of Organizational Conflict- Level And How To Manage Them

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Mar 24, 2023

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Any disagreement or struggle within an organisation can be considered an organisational conflict. Conflicts can stem from a variety of reasons, including differences of opinion, values, goals, personalities, or perceptions of a situation. It has been demonstrated that conflict can have both positive and negative effects, including increased creativity, better decision making and improved relationships between individuals and groups.

It is important to manage conflicts properly in order to prevent them from escalating and becoming destructive, resulting in decreased productivity, low morale, and low employee satisfaction.

A key requirement of an agile project leader is the ability to identify and resolve conflict at an early stage. In agile, conflict manifests itself in 2 plausible ways : 

When a team experiences conflict, they are free to voice their opinions, and they are able to point out their differences and concerns.

If the agile team members fail to resolve a conflict instantly, then it may cause problems for the projects as a whole. 

Also read about  agile environment 


5 Levels of Agile Conflict

Project leaders have difficulty resolving conflicts with an amicable settlement when the intensity of conflict reaches a high level. A 5 level conflict classification model has been proposed by some practitioners and scholars to categorise conflict based on intensity and impact on the project, though there has been no universally accepted classification of conflict in agile:

Agile Conflict Level 1

Disagreement:  As its name implies, this is a mild form of conflict. It is defined by the differences in opinion between team members on a particular issue, but it does not have a significant impact on the project. Healthy debate and open communication are the best ways to resolve it. 

Agile Conflict Level 2

Misunderstanding - Conflict at this level tends to arise from misinterpretations and misunderstandings of each other’s actions or words. Effective communication and clarification help resolve these types of conflicts.

Agile Conflict Level 3

Contest - When team members have competing interests or goals, they will have a more difficult time reconciling them. This type of conflict will need more structured negotiation and compromise to find a solution that is beneficial for both parties. 

Agile Conflict Level 4

Fight - Serious conflicts, which has the tendency to escalate into personal attacks, and result in emotional outbursts that damage team morale and productivity. De-escalation and resolution of these conflicts require strong conflict management skills. 

Agile Conflict Level 5

War - The most severe form of conflict occurs when team members engage in destructive behaviour, potentially threatening the project’s success. Outside intervention and mediation may be required to resolve this conflict. 

Managing different levels of conflict is necessary for agile project managers, who can respond appropriately with effective conflict resolution strategies for de-escalating conflict and maintaining team morale.



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Levels of Organisational Conflict

An organisation’s incompatibility can be traced back to corporate conflict, which can take four distinct forms. These types of disagreement are collectively known as “levels of conflict”. It is essential for an organisation to manage conflict between all four levels, as each level has different levels of conflict within an organisation. Here are some common levels of organisational conflict:

Intrapersonal Conflict: In these types of conflicts, the team members disagree on how to do a specific task or how to solve a particular problem. If a proper conversation with the aim of finding solutions happens, disputes can lead to more positive conclusions;  however, any failure to confront the difficulty quickly may cause backlogs and reduced efficiency.

 Interpersonal Conflict: When a group is divided concerning ways to put Agile approaches into action, difficulty may arise following the recommended practices. This type of conflict can be especially challenging as Agile calls for collaboration between team members. Confusion, frustration, and decreased productivity can occur when team members are not aligned on how to work together. 

Intergroup Conflict: Usually, conflicts arise between team members if they don’t understand each other or don’t communicate clearly. They can occur if members communicate differently, or if they don’t understand each other’s roles and responsibilities. In the workplace, conflict related to communication can cause delays, misunderstandings, and a decline in productivity.

Personality-related conflicts:  These disagreements arise when team members’ dissimilar personalities or working methods collide. A team member who loves to work independently might not get along with a team member who enjoys teamwork, for instance. Conflicts involving personalities can be particularly tough to handle since they can be hard to resolve and can lower morale and productivity.

 Agile teams need to recognize potential contending views and look for a solution quickly before anything gets out of hand in order for the project to be a success. Collaboration, dialogue, and action plans for resolving disputes are essential for the team to work well together.


How to Manage Each Level of Conflict?

In order for Agile Teams to stay successful, appropriately managing conflicts must be a priority. Contention and animosities should be managed in an opportunistic manner that advances productivity and working harmoniously together. For employees, encountering communal divisions can have helpful effects such as sparking imaginative thinking abilities and escalating the probability of coming up with novel problem-solving strategies. Here are some options for regulating arguments on particular echelons of Agile:

1. Managing Intrapersonal Conflict

You can strengthen your ability to think critically and make sound decisions by learning how to deal with the inevitable daily dose of interpersonal conflict. To handle internal conflict follow these steps:

  • Follow Your Values

Examine how the conflict affects your values and the goals you hold dear at work. Then, consider potential solutions based on how well they fit with these values. 

  • Check Your Company Policy

The corporation’s policies may be relevant and you should investigate them. If there are established procedures, follow them; otherwise, you should consult your manager. 

  • Write the Conflict down

Think about how your disagreement might affect your life and decide which option seems most likely to succeed. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option and the results you could achieve.

  • Be Conscious of Time 

You may find it helpful to impose a deadline for resolving the disagreement. It may be useful to be aware of how much time there is to work out a solution.

2. Managing Interpersonal Conflict

Working through disagreements calmly can strengthen relationships at work, help generate new ideas, and increase productivity. Here are a few tips on how to handle workplace tension:

  • Define the Conflict 

In order to resolve a conflict, one must first identify the first incident that sparked it and then understand each party’s reaction to it. After that, they must consider the situation from all sides to reach a compromise that accommodates them all. 

  • Put the Conflict into Context

The parties may be more willing to resolve the conflict if they discuss how it is affecting everyone involved, the project, and the workplace. 

  • Create Options

The parties can work together to come up with win-win solutions by proposing solutions to the problem. At this stage, both sides can consider options for a peaceful resolution. 

  • Agree on a Solution

Compromise should work for everyone involved. Once goals are established, you can analyze and track the resolution’s progress. 

3. Managing Intragroup Conflict 

Management of intragroup conflict can help ensure employee productivity and team completion of group goals. These three measures will help you maximize your group's effectiveness in addressing and resolving problems:

  • Discuss the Conflict as a Team

Describe the reasons for the disagreement and how each of you feels about it. By participating in this stage, everyone has the opportunity to be heard and to have an open discussion of the issue. After that, ask each team member to explain their positions and why they hold them.

  • Collaborate in Small Groups

Divide the teams into smaller subteams where the opinions of every team member should be considered. Optimise the issues and draw the outcome of the plausible resolutions. Then involve everyone in the group and ask what should be done. Less the people in the group the better the conversations.

  • Reach a Decision

Decide a common plan and settle on it. Ask everyone if they agree to the decision made. This will make them believe that everyone’s opinion is being considered.

4. Managing Intergroup Conflict

Inter-group conflicts can be utilized productively so as to fortify links between teams, create groundbreaking thoughts, and increase the group's faith in their potential to tackle long-term issues. If any are looking towards taking a positive route when dealing with such turmoil, these three tips should help point things in the right path.

  • Discuss the Issue With All Relevant Parties

Communication among many people simultaneously in a setting open to all can be beneficial in predicaments regulating a surprisingly large base. It also reduces the number of people necessary while giving input from diverse points of interest.

  • Have a Closed Meeting With Necessary Stakeholders

Sometimes, only a limited number of people, such as team leaders or managers, are necessary for solving conflict between groups. After the issue has been discussed in the open, this can be used as an alternate way of resolving the dispute.

  • Gather a Variety of Possible Solutions

It may be best for both teams to hold frequent meetings to assist in problem-solving. Swapping team members could make way for better perspectives on any disputes and thinking of creative methods to address the issue while taking everyone's feelings into consideration through a voting system will likely make designing theories far easier.

Tips for Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Dealing with disagreements and issues in the workplace can be difficult, but it is necessary for keeping things smoothly running when people are interacting day-to-day. Here are several suggestions for taking control of professional conflict:

  1. Address conflicts early: Dealing with disagreements promptly is essential if you want to successfully resolve them. Putting off conflicts for too long makes their resolution more difficult.
  2. Encourage open communication: Promote transparent dialogue between everyone concerned in the disagreement. Hear what every person has to say and collaborate to devise a satisfactory solution.
  3. Identify the root cause: Accurately pinpoint the origin of the problem and don't just look at signs and manifestations uncovered on the surface. Establishing what is causing it is essential for leading to a solution.
  4. Remain neutral: It's imperative to stay impartial and not pick favourites when dealing with discord. Concentrate on finding a solution that suits all parties involved.
  5. Explore potential solutions: Create a dialogue to discuss possible solutions to the dispute with all stakeholders. Motivate individuals to come up with their own concepts and collaborate to devise a mutually acceptable resolution.
  6. Follow up: Once an agreement has been reached, keep up communication with all involved to guarantee the problem is completely fixed. If important, make alterations to the plan, guaranteeing it lasts for everybody involved.
  7. Learn from the conflict: Take the disagreement and use it as an instructional opportunity to recognize areas that can be enhanced inside your group or organisation. Draw on this intelligence to curb clashes from occurring in the future.

By following these tips, you can effectively manage conflict in the workplace and maintain a positive and productive work environment.

Agile Conflict Resolution

An agile project leader should understand the different levels of agile conflict and take necessary steps based on the difficulty level. 

At level 1, focus on collaboration and consensus. 

At level 2, bring the team together for a discussion. 

At level 3, involve the team in give-and-take negotiations. 

At level 4, use shuttle diplomacy to bring the teams together for a discussion. 

At level 5, focus on limiting collateral damage. 

By following these steps, agile project leaders can effectively resolve conflicts in an agile environment and maintain a positive and productive work environment.


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Organizational conflict can be challenging, but taking up an Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) course from StarAgile can help professionals develop skills in agile conflict resolution. ACP certification is a valuable credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) that demonstrates expertise in agile project management and conflict resolution. By earning this certification, professionals can gain the knowledge and skills needed to effectively manage conflicts in an agile environment and lead successful projects.

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