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Managing Conflict pertains to the ability to identify situations in which conflict is either apparent, disguised, or likely to develop, and to effectively manage these situations; to identify underlying subordinate motivations and/or the subtle interpersonal elements of situations and take these issues into account in formulating a course of action with regard to "surface" issues raised or requests made by subordinates; to identify underlying competitiveness among subordinates and to deal with it in a productive and efficient way, managing it for the good or the organization rather than being managed by it; to understand the interpersonal elements of dealing with other segments of the organization and use methods that achieve cooperation rather than underlying resistance and conflict.

Six General Management In-Basket (GMIB) items are used to score this factor but a maximum of five skill descriptions may appear in this report section.

The following are the major characteristics of this assessee's current skill level and managerial style on this factor:

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates above average skill in dealing with overt organizational conflict; demonstrates an understanding of the role of conflict in organizations as well as appropriate techniques for managing it productively to avoid negative organizational consequences; improvement could result, however, by developing a more in-depth understanding of the underlying causes of organizational conflict and how to productively manage it in an ongoing manner.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Nature of Organizational Conflict:  Develop a better understanding of the role of conflict in an organization, including what forms of conflict are normal and serve a useful purpose if properly managed, as well as what forms of conflict may be highly detrimental; learn how to identify underlying sources of conflict and design action strategies which are most appropriate to the particular form of conflict identified.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates a need for greater insight into, and understanding of, the subtle interpersonal issues and rivalries that may develop among subordinates and which can lead to low morale, tensions and conflict if not properly managed; does not tend to perceive underlying interpersonal issues and/or subordinate attempts to involve the supervisor in "power plays" in relating to other subordinates; apparently as a result, may take actions as a "supervisor" which lead to increased conflict and rivalries, as opposed to cooperation and teamwork.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Interpersonal Insight:  Develop an awareness of the role of interpersonal relationships in influencing the way in which subordinates work toward individual and common organizational objectives; learn to examine problems pertaining to goal accomplishment and needed cooperation in terms of underlying interpersonal relationship issues and problems; learn to devise action strategies which contribute to a sense of teamwork and common purpose and which increase the likelihood of productive and cooperative working relationships in the future.

    Development of Subordinates: Learn to distinguish between the apparent need for an immediate solution to a particular problem and the need to train and develop subordinates in the internal processes to be used in similar situations in the future; learn to use such ongoing problem situations as leadership opportunities to build an effective team atmosphere; in this vein, learn to guide subordinates to apply effective conflict resolution methods as a normal part of their jobs.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates a need for greater insight into, and understanding of, the interpersonal elements of communication patterns within an organization; does not tend to perceive interpersonal communication issues that could lead to organizational inefficiencies or unresponsiveness by others; demonstrates a tendency to focus only on the seeming "work-related" aspects of such situations, thereby adopting a course of action that is likely to lead to interpersonal tensions and organizational conflict, as opposed to cooperative problem solving.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Communication Patterns:  Develop a better understanding of styles of communication within organizations, including how approaches to communication may project either a "participative" or "autocratic" style of leadership; learn to resolve problems at the lowest possible level within the organization, avoiding overly formalistic approaches that give the impression that all disagreements or problems should be resolved by "those in authority."

    Development of Subordinates:  Encourage subordinates to resolve problems in a calm and professional manner, based on personal skills and abilities, rather than by relying upon position power or by "putting people on notice with written communications."  Learn to guide subordinates toward the use of methods that project teamwork and cooperation as opposed to methods that project competitiveness and the use of authority to accomplish their individual needs or work goals.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates average skill in dealing with situations in which employees are demonstrating resistance to routine or standard organizational practices; avoids taking actions that would be perceived as overtly autocratic and which would create even greater tensions, conflict and resistance; however, tends to focus more on the seeming importance of the routine organizational practices than on the underlying interpersonal and employee motivation principles where these are key to an effective outcome that will decrease employee resistance.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Interpersonal Insight:  Learn to project a high degree of respect in dealings with subordinates, even in those instances in which subordinates are demonstrating resistance to standard organizational practices and providing seemingly "weak" reasons for doing so; develop a better understanding of how the manager's handling of subordinate resistance shapes the attitudes of all subordinates, and may create perceptions of the manager ranging from a purely "task-based autocrat" to that of a "team manager" with an equal emphasis on production and people.

    Development of Subordinates:  Develop the practice of viewing each subordinate as a unique individual and, from that perspective, avoid rigid application of "standard practice" if a different solution will better serve both the individual and the organization; learn to avoid the common temptation of assuming the role of the parent who "prescribes" and/or "tells and sells" subordinates on what is best for them; learn to exercise respect and flexibility in arriving at solutions which will actually work based on the unique characteristics and needs of the individual.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates average insight and skill in dealing with situations in which employees are experiencing frustrations in meeting their job responsibilities; appears to recognize the underlying causes of such problems; however, takes actions which appear helpful in the short run and which project interpersonal sensitivity but which increase the likelihood that such problems will continue on a long-term basis.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Organizational Culture:  Develop an understanding of how various interpersonal styles, including requests for leadership action by the manager, provide insight into the existing culture of the organization and may reveal whether subordinates perceive it as autocratic or participatively managed; learn to identify subordinate behavior which projects a desire for, or acceptance of, autocratic organizational values; avoid providing assistance to subordinates in a way that might be interpreted as "parental" and which might implicitly convey preference for "top-down" problem solving and communication patterns; learn to devise and implement action strategies which build the confidence and competency of subordinates, as opposed to strategies which reinforce the role of the manager as problem solver and power broker.

Our In-Basket Exam Prep packages include full-length practice examinations as well as in-depth explanations for each question and corresponding behavior dimensions.  Also included in this exam prep package are: 

  • Elements of an In-Basket
  • Assessment Center Behavior Dimensions
  • Top-Scoring In-Basket Performance Strategies that have proven to be extremely successful for hundreds of promotional candidates

Your investment in these practice examinations could mean the difference between you getting promoted and not.  Don't go into an In-Basket Examination unprepared.

If you would like to review additional promotional exam prep packages, go to our Assessment Center Exam Prep pages at the links below:

Promotional Oral Interview Exam Prep

Fire Tactical Exam Prep

Subordinate Counseling Exam Prep

Lieutenant/Captain/Battalion/Deputy Chief In-Basket Exam Prep

Leaderless Group Exam Prep

Test-taking Strategies & Career Articles

Don McNea Fire School's Assessment Center Exam Preparation has been put together by Fire Chiefs who are nationally-recognized authors and who have been assessors for thousands of assessment center examinations.

As always, all of our Assessment Center Exam Prep products come with a no-risk guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund 100% of the product cost no questions asked.


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