Discuss the various causes of conflict at your organisation
According to Rahim (1986), conflicts arise when interests collide usually as a result of divergence in organisational goals, personal ambition, group loyalties, demands on scarce resources and so forth. In many educational institutions, conflicts originate from multitude of sources found at personal and organisational levels. Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012) define these levels as ‘within and between informal organisational levels’; ‘within or between formal organisational levels’; and ‘between formal and informal organisational levels’.
It is the essence of this deliberation to discuss the various causes of conflict at a school as an organisation. Furthermore, the paper will suggest solutions to the management and transformation of conflict in the school. The terms ‘conflict’ and ‘organisation’ are identified as some of the key terms and are therefore defined before the discussion unfolds. DEFINITION OF KEYS TERM Conflict According to www. wordweb. info, conflict is an open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals). It is further defined as opposition between two simultaneous but incompatible feelings.
This concurs with www.
googlesearch. org where it is said that conflict is an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scare resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals. However, according to Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012), conflict is natural and necessary part of our lives which is an inherent part of our lives which can have negative and positive impacts. The definitions agree that conflict is friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences or incompatibilities between and among the teachers and the administration at a school.
Organisation According to www. wordweb. info, an organisation is the persons (or committees or departments etc. ) who make up a body for the purpose of administering something. A social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals. According to www. businessdictionary. com, an organisation has a management structure that determines relationships between the different activities and the members, and subdivides and assigns roles, responsibilities, and authority to carry out different tasks.
Organizations are open systems—they affect and are affected by their environment. The given definitions qualify a school to be an organisation for workers at a school are grouped into departments with specific roles and they work towards achieving the same goals, objectives or mission statement of the school. CAUSES OF CONFLICT AT A SCHOOL Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012) assert that schools frequently appear to be centres of tension; on occasion, they are perhaps a manifestation of problems in the community. The school as a community has potentialities that spark off conflict.
These potentialities reside in interactions within and or between formal and informal organisational levels at the school. According to Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012), one of the most common sources of conflict in Zimbabwean schools is intra-role conflict. This is when various members in a role set simultaneously and legitimately, for instance grade 3 teachers at a school, make differing demands on a single role. The school may demand for better examinations results and the teachers on the other hand demand for better incentives that commensurate with the gravity of the work input applied.
Sometimes an individual has to perform roles that negate rather than supplement each other. In Zimbabwean schools for example during the period of hyper-inflation, teachers were supplementing their salaries through part time work and trading. A lot of conflicts were then experienced as teachers were not able to balance work teaching pressures as well as that came as a result of the need to supplement their meager salaries. Involved in such conflicts are teachers, school administration and the government.
Kahn, Wotfe and Rosenthal (1964) defined it as the simultaneous occurrence of two (or more) sets of pressures such that compliance with one would make difficult compliance with the other. Another cause of conflict is intra-departmental, i. e. when viewpoints of members of the same unit differ. Such conflicts at a school could be caused by or related to the timetable and subject allocation. For example Form 2N can clash with Form 2J on the use of the school library or computer lab. Or Teacher X may be taking a class for Account while at the same time another class is waiting for him at the same time.
Sometimes two or more departments compete for facilities and aids in the school. The use of the school library, computer lab or science laboratory can be examples. Different departments at the school may also collide say in the assembly hall, at the play ground or on the use of some school equipment. Another example would be: the school handyman is helping fixing the electric sockets in the Home Economics department while at the same time the computers department would need him or her in their own department. This type was defined by Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012) as inter-departmental conflict.
Many times teachers complain of insufficient time to complete their work because of a too much demanding timetable. For instance, they have to fulfill their co-curricula chores while at the same time piles of books will be waiting on the teacher’s table. Likewise, the students will also be waiting for a hasty feedback from their teacher. Sometimes they have to ferry students for competitions and yet are still expected to cover the syllabus. Organisation – environment conflict emanates from outside the school system in an attempt to influence policy or programme.
Conflict may arise when parents for example demand a revamp in the school administration, or a significant change in the curriculum. Sometimes conflicts stem from personal motives hence Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012) dubbing it ‘inter-personal conflict’. For example interests of two teachers collide and the attempt of each of them to put his/her interest ahead provokes another’s reaction. This is especially common between teachers moving different agendas. Along the lines of personal interest, groups are formed at the school.
Inter-group conflict ensues when for instance a young female teacher tries to introduce a modeling club at the school. This may not go down well with the other members of staff who may see it as immoral depending on the culture of the school, and community. Kahn and Boulding (1964) in Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012) give another cause of conflicts at a school as interpersonal conflict. According to Kahn and Boulding (1964), this is when a person-environment social fit is unusual and the behavioural outcome trigger trouble for him and others.
Adverse behaviour in that instance is caused by personal peculiarities such as inadequacies or exceptionally good qualities. According to Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012), incompetent teachers are mainly on the centre stage here. Exceptionally good teachers also feel that they are misplaced and need a better school. This causes conflict with other teachers and the school administration. SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS TO CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AT SCHOOL The better educators and students understand the nature of conflict, the better able they are to manage conflicts constructively.
Some suggestions and recommendations on conflict management in school administration are made for possible implementation. As the Zimbabwe Open University has introduced a new course on ‘conflict management and transformation in education’, courses in conflict management and human relations should also be included in the curriculum for teachers in training as a way of preparing them for conflict management in school administration. Likewise, courses on human relations should be introduced into secondary school curriculum to carry along the students on the issue of tolerance and other acceptable societal behavioural virtues.
Sadomba and Hlatwayo encourage the establishment of Students Representative Councils (SRCs) in each school and the enlightenment of students on the importance of the SRC will enhance conflict management strategies. The educational administrators should also organize seminars, conferences and symposia for the management cadre in the field of educational management, from time to time. This will help them deal with and handle conflicts in the schools. Some conflicts are caused by poor or breakdown in communication among teachers, school administrators, and also between the teachers and the parents body.
Effective School Development Committees (SDCs) serve an important purpose by bridging communication gaps, which can cause conflicts. For instance, a plea for an increase in the incentives teachers get from parents can be fruitful if the teachers work well with the SDC membership – and hence reduction of conflict. Government should look into the issue of workers’ welfare to avert the incessant industrial actions, and provided adequate facilities in schools. On the other hand, if parents are well-educated on the issue of teacher remuneration, they may assist in a number of ways which will contribute towards reduction of conflicts in schools.
School administrators should serve teachers and other staff with clear job specifications or descriptions and these should be Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Time-framed. Piling too much pressure on subordinates may create tension which will mount to conflicts between and among members of the organisation. There should also be transparency and accountability from the serving officers at the school. This will promote peace as everyone will be in the true picture of what happened, what is happening and what will happen in their school.
Introducing counseling facilities and programmes in schools is also a positive way of inculcating positive ways of handling conflicts and also reducing it. Since conflict is seemingly unavoidable, particularly in a scholarly setting, it is, according to Sadomba and Hlatwayo (2012), obviously necessary for administrators to be able to recognize conflict, to view its constructive as well as destructive potential, to learn how to manage conflict, and to apply conflict management strategies in a practical way.
Johnson and Johnson (1996) state that conflicts are resolved constructively when they result in an outcome that all disputants are satisfied with; improve the relationship between the disputants; and improve the ability of disputants to resolve future conflicts in a constructive manner. CONCLUSION From the discussion, it can be deduced that conflict is an essential and unavoidable human phenomenon because where there is human interaction like at a school; there is a likelihood of personal likes and dislikes.
These agreements and disagreements among individuals and groups at the school lead them to conflicts. It has been explained that the potential for conflict at a school exists because people have different needs, views and values. Depending on how conflicts are handled, they can either be positive or negative. The paper has also suggested ways of managing conflict constructively so that those involved can learn and grow from the experience. REFERENCES