The difference between functional and dysfunctional conflicts hinges on whether or not the interests of the organization have been served. Functional conflict such as a scheduling conflict between line staff and supervisors, achieves organizational interests while dysfunctional conflict such as discrimination conflict, threatens the organizational interests.
There are various antecedents of conflict that once known, can assist in the anticipation and quick resolution of conflicts once they become dysfunctional. Among these are interdependent tasks where an employee is unable to complete his or her work because a fellow coworker hasn’t completed theirs. A second antecedent is unmet employee expectations where he/she may have unrealistic expectations about an assignment and the corresponding compensation.
A third antecedent is that of unreasonable deadlines or extreme time pressure which could involve a manager assigning a task to an employee and setting a deadline without providing the proper lolls and time scheduling to complete the assignment on time. A fourth antecedent is inadequate communication which may be manifested in a manager deciding not to respond to an email from an employee requesting permission to proceed with a matter.
In doing so, the employee may assume that by receiving no response, the manager has agreed. A fifth and final antecedent of conflict is personality conflict. Conflict may arise as persons may decide to disagree with a decision in part on a whole based on personal likes/dislikes, religious affiliation or traditions. In an organization, successful conflict management involves desired outcomes. First is agreement. This should be viewed as equitable and fair by all parties involved.
Should outcomes be viewed as being unfair by any person, they may become resentful which may in turn lead to consequent conflict. A second outcome is that of a stronger relationship among conflicting parties. This will lead to both parties fulfilling any promises that were previously made. The third outcome is learning. This will assist in promoting greater self-awareness and unique problem solving skills.