Functional conflict supports the goals of a work group and improves its performance. It involves learning to deal with disagreement in a healthy and balanced way. Healthy disagreements motivate a group to display analytical thinking in identifying various alternatives. Moreover, when conflict is allowed to express openly, it helps to reduce tension among group members. Such harmonious and openly environment allows individuals to generate more creative ideas. Hence, the conflict promotes competition, group cohesiveness and high quality decisions because it enhances the awareness which allows group members to understand one another and show a respect for each member’s opinions.
While conflict is inevitable, functional conflict will be a solution adopted by managers in situation like groupthink. Groupthink occurs in highly cohesive groups when group members feel intense pressure agreeing with each other so that the group can approve of a proposed solution. This leads to consideration of a limited number of solutions and restricts the discussion of any considered solutions. Managers should increase functional conflict in such a situation. Usually there are two techniques for doing this: devil’s advocacy and dialectic method. Group members who adopt devil’s advocacy approach will assign the role of critics and encourage individuals to question and evaluate any ideas within the group. As for group members who adopt the dialectic method, they will facilitate a structured debate of opposing views before making a decision. By hearing pros and cons of all different ideas, the group will have a greater success in making sound decisions.
Dysfunctional conflict on the other hand consists of disputes and disagreements that hinder the work group’s performance. Dysfunctional conflict within a work group is stimulated by egos of group members with competing ambitions. It can be an overabundance of conflict resulting in personalized anger towards specific individuals, or a lack of sufficient motivating conflict which drains energy from the group members involved. Apparently, dysfunctional conflict is devastating to work groups and should be eliminated by managers. When dysfunctional conflicts arise in the work group, it is important for managers to resolve the