Conflicts occur everyday, but healthcare presents a whole new level of compromise by people working together to deliver optimum patient care. If you are locum tenens provider or on a travel assignment, it can be hard to manage a difficult situation in your new work environment. Every office has conflict and the hospital setting is no different. Conflict resolution often involves multiple departments and opposing mindsets meeting somewhere in the middle. See how you can use appropriate styles of management to manage conflict in a new job or assignment.
Recognizing Sources of Conflict
While the objective of all health care professionals is to provide safe, timely and appropriate care for patients, multiple factors can create conflicts in how to proceed with plans of care. Conflicts can arise when:
- Different types or levels of healthcare professionals disagree.
- Subordinate personnel disagree or disobey orders.
- Duties cannot be carried out because other departments haven’t completed the necessary processes.
No matter why the conflicts occur, it’s helpful to understand the perspective of each party. Asking questions and making a commitment to fair and open communication can pave the road for successfully resolving conflicts before they turn into abusive or physical confrontations.
Styles of Conflict Management
People have different personalities and methods of dealing with conflict. The following management styles can help ward off continuing conflicts.
- Accommodation seeks to smooth things over peacefully. This is useful when one party is clearly in the wrong but is willing to admit it. Accommodation can provide a sense of goodwill and allow for a reasonable solution to an understood problem.
- Compromise involves a bargaining process in which the conflicting parties meet halfway. This finds a solution that grants some of what each party wants but not everything. Compromise works well when you need to come to a quick solution for a complex issue.
- Collaboration calls for cooperation and assertiveness and requires a mutual interest in solving the problem. Collaboration is best when safety or legal matters must be addressed and parties can take the time to explore multiple possibilities and solutions.
Shy away from avoidant or competitive styles of managing conflict, because these tend to create a negative atmosphere. The goal is to solve problems, not create more.
Tips for Meeting Objectives
Conflicts pose opportunities to create a better situation if handled with care and patience. Regardless of your conflict management style, keep these tips in mind when searching for resolutions:
- Be willing to acknowledge that a problem does exist.
- Maintain open communication and mutual respect.
- Accept that people are going to have different perspectives.
- Educate and hold accountable the stakeholders throughout the process.
You may not be able to head off all conflicts in your new work environment, but you can keep them from interfering with safe patient care. Communicate often and keep your outlook fair for the best results in your conflict management.