Intergreating Professional Experience

Work Based Distance Learning Degree Intergrating Professional Experience

Integrating Professional Experience

Study Guide
Module Co-ordinator;
Tim Collett

Credits and acknowledgements
This document is based on the work by Barbara Allan, with kind permission from the author. A special thank- you to Caroline Hodgson, Victoria Ellis and Peter Mount for their invaluable contributions.

Design and layout? Sharlene Holley
Editing and proof reading ?Amy Pearson
First published July 2013 ?Tracey White
Revised: May 2016 ??Tim Collett

Lincoln Business School
University of Lincoln
Brayford Campus?
Lincoln LN6 7TS

University of Lincoln

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission of the author.


Section 1?Welcome to the Module-Integrating Professional Experience?4
The Module and its aim?6
Structure and Content?7
Learning Outcomes?7
Teaching and Learning methods?8
Module resources?8
Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard)?9
Tutor Support?9
Submitting drafts:?9
Final Submission:?10
Contact time?10
Academic Referencing and Plagiarism?11

Section 2 Reflection in Learning – Reflective Practice?12
What is reflective practice??12
Knowledge construction?13
Learning Logs?15
Keeping a Log?15

Section 3?Understanding the Assignment:?16
Constructing the Learning Logs(s)?17
The Learning Log(s)?18
Writing the Report?19
The Assignment will have the Following format:?20
Submitting Your Assignment?21

Section 4?Reading List?22

Section 5 Appendices?24
Appendix 1 The Assessment of Learning Logs Criteria?24
Appendix 2 Learning Log Template?25
Appendix 3 Reflective Log Critical Incident?26
Appendix 4 Cover Page Template?28
Appendix 5 Report Template….. 29
Appendix 6 Additional University Services…31

Section 1?Welcome to the Module-Integrating Professional Experience

Welcome to the Integrating Professional Experience Module of your Degree programme. This module is designed to develop and assess your ability to reflect critically on your professional practice and experiences. This module builds on the knowledge and experience gained in the Study skills module, especially those of Academic Reading and Research, Academic Writing, Academic Referencing and the formal structured process of Reflection.
The module will provide you with a structured framework within which to reflect on learning experiences received during previous formal managerial training and also within past and present working environments. You are encouraged to develop your own abilities to practise reflection in the practical arena by critically evaluating your ideas and experiences against academic theories and models. You will be expected, as a result, to challenge and expand your personal management skills. You will facilitate this process through the production of personal Reflective Learning Logs, individual reading and study and face-to-face or on-line discussion with the Unit Tutor.

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with information and support on a range of topics which include:

Rationale for the Module
Topics covered in the Module
University-based resources
Assignment brief
Assessment criteria and Activities

Section 1 of the Guide provides background information on the module and presents an overview of the module assessment and criteria which will be used to assess your work (it will be important to refer to this section when preparing your assessment submissions for the Module). Section 2 provides information on Reflection in Learning and Knowledge construction and Reflective Learning Logs Section 3 outlines assignment presentation and expectations. Section 4 is the recommended reading list for the Module – you are not limited to these resources; in fact you are expected to explore additional material to supplement this list. Section 5 contains the Appendices to support your Assignment and finally Section 6 provides information on additional resources and University services

What do you need to do next?
You will need to read and become thoroughly familiar with this Guide. Remember, although you can email your tutor at any time for advice, the purpose of this degree format is to encourage and enable you to study in your own time and at your own pace, within the context of your Employment. For the early stages of study take particular notice of Section 1, 2 and 3 as it will be helpful to have an overview of the requirements for the entire module before you commence your study.

If you have any questions or are unsure about anything to do with this module please email your allocated tutor (who would have been assigned to you upon completion of your Study Skills module). If problems occur which cannot be rectified by your allocated tutor please contact the Module Co-ordinator Tim Collett
Also, please route your university e mail account to your personal account in order to receive all university emails, as on occasion we send urgent document changes and email is the best means of communicating.

The Module and its aim

This module is designed to develop and assess your ability to reflect critically on your professional practice and experiences. Reflection as a technique for aiding and reinforcing learning is a powerful tool in professional development and a wide range of other learning situations and environments. At a personal level Critical Reflection is the basis for personal learning and change. Reflection can enable practitioners to learn from experience about themselves (Bolton, 2010, 3). It offers a way of making the most of changing circumstances and a good way of preparing for the future. Reflection is the basis of self-awareness and can also help identify unseen opportunities. It can make the difference between acting as a victim of circumstance and choosing a proactive response.
Reflective practice is essentially about learning and developing through examining what one thinks happened on any occasion and how one thinks others perceived the event. By opening up your professional practice to the scrutiny of others you can become a more effective learner and manager.
At an organisational level Critical Reflection is the basis for maintaining the appropriate alignment of an organisation with its environment and as such forms the basis for strategic planning and organisational change. It can, if used correctly, act as a catalyst for the essential disciplines of communication and continual improvement in a rapidly changing managerial environment.
There are many different approaches to Reflection. In the Study Skills module the focus was on Reflective Commentaries following completion of a Learning Activity. This Module will utilise the format of structured Reflective Learning Logs. Learning Logs are a useful tool for reflective practice. A Learning Log is more than a simple diary of events. It is intended to chart progress, thinking and development, and knowledge construction. The Logs are meant to be a personal document and the thought and discipline associated with its writing and production will help with the overall aim of learning through reflection.
The Logs are not just a description of facts but a deep exploration of what happened, what led up to the event, why it happened and what can be learned from the experience. This is called Critical Reflection. The following link will provide you with detailed information on what is Critical Reflection, along with examples of Learning Logs. Pay particular attention to the Learning Log scenario called The Park as it provides an excellent illustration of progression from a description of an event to a deep and critical reflection of that event and its transformative power for the learner:
The ability to frame appropriate questions for engaging with the arguments, assumptions, prejudices and ideologies, abstract concepts and the data encountered during professional practice and to express and communicate the products of that engagement are central to both what it means to be a successful Honours degree student and to being an equally accomplished strategic manager.

Structure and Content

The module is structured to include:
Guidance on assessment activities
The development of reflective practice
The development of personal Reflective Learning Log(s)
The analysis and application of theory of selected management issues to practice, using the Learning Logs as the basis for exploration

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this IPE Module you will be able to:

Assess your development as professional managers through analysis of lessons learned during previous formal management training and also within past and present working environments.
Recognise, and critically reflect on the extent to which your academic and workplace experiences have influenced your individual development as a professional manager.
Critically evaluate your ability to engage in reflective practice and to apply the concept to personal and professional development.
Develop the self-awareness and confidence to reflect upon and dynamically change individual and group behaviours to improve organsational performance.
Demonstrate the abilty to analyse, understand and apply academic theory and thinking to a practical managerial environment.

Please pay attention to the Learning Outcomes as they play a critical role in that they are the objectives for your learning and, as a consequence, are used as the criteria for marking your assignments. Additionally, when assessing your Learning Logs your tutor will consider the criteria identified by Moon (1999) (Appendix 1). Use these criteria to construct and evaluate your Learning Log(s).

Teaching and Learning methods

The module will use a wide range of teaching and learning methods including:
Use of University based resources via an on-line virtual learning environment Blackboard.
Independent study through open learning materials, both paper-based and on-line.
Accessing individual support and guidance from the tutor predominantly via e-mail, with telephone or face-to-face meetings where possible.
The production and maintenance of personal Reflective Learning Logs by each student.
The writing of a 4000 word Report based on themes arising from the 2000 word Personal Learning Logs.

Module resources

To work through this Module, you will need the following resources:

Internet access so that you can use the Universitys Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) and its facilities
Integrating Professional Experience The Student Guide (this document)
The Library and Electronic Resources Guide and further guides located on Blackboard, Learning Inventory Guide, the University of Lincoln (2013) Harvard Referencing Handbook and the Submission Sheet. These guides are located on the learning material site of Blackboard, within the Integrating Professional Experience site. You will also need to use the Reading List in Section 4 as a starting point for relevant exploration of the module themes and topics.

Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard)

The Universitys Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) provides a range of essential facilities for programme delivery. It is an Internet-based system, available only to registered students and staff of the University by the use of appropriate usernames and passwords. It can be accessed via the Internet or via a PC connected to the University network. Essential support services available through the Blackboard include:
Electronic distribution of course documentation and support materials that can be viewed online, downloaded or printed off as required (it might be helpful to print off a copy of this Guide and also the University of Lincoln(2013)Harvard Referencing Handbook as you will be referring to them on a regular basis)
Electronic transmission of files attached to messages between students and tutors
On-line diagnostic tests and formal assessments
Direct links for students to external web-pages

At the start of your Degree programme, you will have received a guide to accessing and using Blackboard and its facilities. You can also visit the University to familiarise yourself with Library and Learning Resources and to discuss with staff the use of the system. However, an on-line electronic guide and help facilities are also available on Blackboard.

Tutor Support

Please remember that your tutor is very interested in supporting you and helping you to succeed. Your tutor is available to deal with any queries about completion of the Module and you are encouraged to seek your tutors assistance whenever you need it either by phone, via e-mail or in person, with email being the primary and predominant mode of contact. It is essential to contact your tutor, submit drafts of your work and respond to feedback so that you both can be aware of the progress that you are making, not just in this Module but throughout the Degree.

Many of you will have had experience as a student in other learning institutions around the world. Each institution will have its own ideas and approaches regarding student/tutor contact. This University, especially The Work Based Distance Learning Department, actively encourages student- tutor contact whether it is to submit drafts of your work or final submissions but also as a means to explore ideas and issues. Please be assured that your contact is welcome whether it is regarding course content or to address any other issues or concerns, including issues relating to personal circumstances. The sooner you engage with your tutor and submit drafts of your work the more positive and rewarding your learning experience will be. Appendix 6 lists Additional University Services which you might find helpful to your student experience.
Submitting drafts:

You will be able to submit drafts of the assignment up to a maximum of 3. For this module this might mean:
– One Draft of the Logs
– One Draft of the Report midway through completion eg (2000 to 2500 words, including the Learning Logs and Reference List)
– One Draft of the Complete Assignment
You can negotiate this with your tutor.

Final Submission:

Please refer back to the Submission Schedule which you received when you enrolled. It is highly advised that you keep to this schedule. However should you require additional time please discuss your needs with your tutor. Tutors can provide extensions of up to 4 weeks. If you require longer time then a Formal Interruption should be arranged. Upon your return please liaise with the WBDL admin team for a revised Submission Schedule.

Your tutor will advise you when your work is acceptable for final submission. This only indicates that your work is of a pass standard and is not an indication or guarantee of a particular mark or grade. Do not submit your assignments to Blackboard without approval from your tutor. Submissions to Blackboard are final.

Contact time

Student study time for this unit is notionally 300 hours of which up to 10 hours are staff/student contact time. Contact time includes induction, e-mail discussion time, telephone and one-to-one meetings with tutors, Module Co-ordinators and the Programme Leader. The remainder of the time should be self- managed so as to ensure that the Modules learning outcomes are achieved within the allocated time frame.


This module requires a written Report of 6000 words (+ / 10%) including one 2000 word or 2 x 1000 word Reflective Learning Log(s), focussed on the development and practical application of reflective practice at an individual and organisational level.

The submission should demonstrate your ability to understand, analyse and apply academic theory and thinking to a practical managerial environment, evidenced by appropriate academic rigour.

Academic Referencing and Plagiarism

In your Study Skills module you were introduced to the process of Academic referencing. Academic referencing ensures that any ideas or information used within the assignment are credited to their rightful owners. It demonstrates scholarship by showing your knowledge of the field of study. It also avoids plagiarism.

According to the University of Lincoln (2013, Introduction) Harvard Referencing Handbook plagarism is defined as the use of another authors ideas and words, whether intentionally or unintentionally, without acknowledging the source of the information. This includes submitting an assignment written by another person(s) on your behalf and also work obtained from any person/organisation such as an essay writing service. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. The use of Custom written essays/reports obtained from internet or other bespoke plagiarism services is likely to attract the most severe penalties. As you are students on the final year of your Degree programme (Third Year) the consequences of academic offences are particularly severe. Panic or lack of time to submit work will not be considered a legitimate defence. Please ensure you are familiar with the Universitys policy (University General regulations- available on Blackboard).

Plagiarism can be avoided by referencing correctly. Please follow the referencing format outlined in the University of Lincoln (2013) Harvard Referencing Handbook This is the only accepted referencing format for this module/Degree. A very useful guide on academic referencing and plagiarism (and how to avoid it) can be found at .

Section 2 Reflection in Learning, Reflective Practice

What is reflective practice?

\’Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it and mull over it and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning. The capacity to reflect is developed in different stages in different people and it may be this ability which characterizes those who learn effectively from experience.\’
(Boud et al, 1987,19)
Reflective practice is essentially about becoming a more effective learner, about developing and changing as a learner. Morrison (1996) found that students reported:
Increased motivation and confidence – in studying, learning, reflecting, questioning
Greater self-awareness leading to self-fulfillment
Better-developed professional skills and career self-awareness
Greater understanding of the links between theory and practice

In addition, reflection is the basis for personal learning and change, and as such forms the basis for organisational change. It offers a way of making the most of changing circumstances and a good way of preparing for the future. Reflection is the basis of self-awareness and can also help identify unseen opportunities. It can make the difference between acting as a victim of circumstance and choosing a proactive response.

Therefore, developing the capacity and habit of reflection will enhance your learning significantly. In doing so, it is important to bear three things in mind:
To learn from reflection you need to develop the habit of reflective practice. Your tutor will give you support and guidance throughout this process.
Reflection is most effective when it is a purposeful activity directed towards a goal. Dynamic goal-directed reflection leads to changes in behaviours and critical understanding that empower the reflector as an individual. This is why it is important to decide which management themes to reflect upon and then to engage with relevant theories to help improve your knowledge and work based practice.
The reflective process is a complex one in which both feeling and thoughts are closely interrelated. Negative feelings can form barriers to learning while positive feelings can enhance your learning experience. Learning is an emotional as well as intellectual activity. This suggests that it is very important to reflect on your feelings and emotions as well as your thoughts. Therefore you need to incorporate these into your Learning Logs.

Knowledge construction

The reflective process will enable you to test and develop your ideas and theories, and this is easiest to achieve with the help of another person. This may be in a face-to-face situation or it may be achieved through another medium such as the telephone or on-line. One theoretical model that is becoming increasingly important in relation to learning and teaching is Constructivist Theory. Three basic tenets common to constructivist theory are:

1. Knowledge is not a product to be accumulated but an active process in which the learner attempts to make sense of the world.
2. People acquire knowledge in forms that make sense to them and that enable them to use it in a meaningful way in their lives.
3. The construction of knowledge is based on collaboration and social negotiation of meaning. Common understandings and shared meaning are developed through discussions with peers, mentors and tutors.

This suggests that the process of developing your reflective practice via your Learning Logs should involve other people and your tutor will be happy to engage in discussion with you. Therefore you will be taking part in a process that involves:

Exchanging your world maps or mental models
Exploring your ideas about a topic and its meaning for you
Identifying and exploring ideas about the relationship between theory and practice and sharing your work and academic experiences with others

Morrison (1996) suggests that when students are involved in knowledge construction it results in :
Empowering their lives
Changing their values and beliefs

The diagram that follows ( Figure 1.)
illustrates the reflective and knowledge construction process.

Knowledge construction
(new insights, understandings,
mental models)
Chnages in Values and Beliefs
Energy Empowerment
Chnages in Behaviour
Acknowledging the Feeling
Working on the feeling/issue

Figure 1- The Knowledge construction process

Many people find the process of structured reflection uncomfortable and awkward, especially in the beginning. Think back to the last time you learned a new skill. What did it feel like? Was it disjointed, mechanical? Were you self-conscious? These feelings will lessen the more you practice.

Learning Logs

A Learning Log is more than a simple diary of events. It is intended to chart your progress, thinking and development, and knowledge construction. In general, keeping a Learning Log will allow you to:
Record your reflections
Recognise and trace how your workplace development, academic development and personal growth interact and support each other
Develop your ability to engage in reflective practice and theories critically about your development
Develop your self-awareness and empower you to change behaviours dynamically to improve your performance as an individual learner and as a member of an organisation

It is likely that the Learning Logs you keep will include the four different forms of reflection that is, reflecting on:
The experiences of others
Personal experience

Keeping a Log

A Learning Log is meant to be a personal document- there is no right or wrong way to keep it. When using a Log for personal and professional development, find the method that suits you and remember the following points:
Write what is important to you: it is important to be yourself. Be open and sincere in what you record
A Log is a working document. As it develops, go back to earlier entries and reflect further on them, underlining, highlighting, and annotating anything significant
Remember to date all entries
Do not be rigid in the way you keep your Log; be prepared to change if necessary, moulding the Log to your personal strengths and needs
If it is a current example record experience as soon as possible after it happens, but be selective; focus on experiences that are significant for you.

Section 3?Understanding the Assignment:

Application of Theory to Practice: Constructing a Reflective Learning Log and Writing a Report based on the Learning Log(s)

This module builds upon the reflective skills you acquired during the previous Study Skills module of this programme and is based on using reflective practice to assess your experience and development as a professional manager.

There is an indicative Reading List (Section 4) to get you started and provide grounding in reflective practice and there is additional reading/ Report guidance on Blackboard which is available to download.

As you progress through the module you are expected to access other relevant material such as Management books, journals and articles. Your academic prowess can be enhanced by referring to more peer-reviewed recent journal articles which can be found via the link Electronic Journals A-to-Z on Blackboard and the University Library home page. Such sources will complement text books and websites, bring your referencing up-to-date on your chosen subject and enhance the academic quality of your assignment. You can enlist the help of the Subject Librarian who can help you to locate materials and use the Librarys resources.

Constructing the Learning Logs(s)

The first step in completing your assignment is to reflect on one or two particular scenarios which you have recently experienced within your work environment (Reflection on Action). These might also include scenarios which you are currently experiencing (Reflection in Action). Choose scenarios which will help you develop in your current role. These could be referred to as Critical Incidents (Rollins, 2006) or significant events, which created a dilemma for you in what to say or what to do. Questions such as those listed below need to be considered:
Why is this incident important?
What underlying issues exist? and
How will this incident influence my future thinking/ behaviour?
Johns et al (2013) suggest asking yourself:
Did I respond in the most effective way?
What factors influenced my response?
What words did I use?
How did I use them?
What were the consequences of my response from others? From the Organisation?
What were my feelings-before, during and after the event?
Was it a positive or negative experience?
You might also want to consider:
What were my motives in responding/acting that way?
What were the possible motives/intentions of others?
(These motives may be explicit or implicit).

Johns et al (2013) acknowledge the emotional and psychological aspects of an experience and suggest that through writing and reflecting on practice (work) you learn to pay increasing attention to self within your working environment. You become aware of (patterns) in your thinking, feeling and responding to situations.
For this Assignment, the scenarios for consideration might involve:
Managing Effective Communications
Managing Employee Motivation
Managing Conflict
Leadership at Work (if you choose this area ensure you are clear on the differences between a Leader and a Manager)
Managing Groups and Teams
Strategic Management
Managing a Diverse workforce
Human Resources Management

The Learning Log(s)

(1 x 2000 or 2 x1000 words) can be constructed using the Template in Appendix 2.

You only have 2000 words (1 x 2000 or 2 x 1000) for the Reflective Learning Logs. If at all possible, focus on incidents which have occurred within the past 3 years. Based on your Learning Logs, you will need to identify common themes emerging from the Logs which will then become the subject for your 4000 word Report. From the main theme, identify 3-4 subthemes. The subthemes must be related to the major theme. For example the Learning Logs could explore something very specific within the process of Human Resource Management, such as the changing role of the job interview within an Organisation. This could be further refined using the subthemes of Power and Assumption. Equally you could explore Conflict Management (CM) within your Organisation. CM, however, covers a vast area in terms of the existing academic literature! Thus, the Logs must consider subtheme(s) and specific aspects around the main theme of CM within your Organisation. For instance, team disagreement /dynamics and CM; negative emotion and interference within the CM process or organisational based self- esteem and CM. In all these cases only appropriate and relevant theoretical models/constructs from the Academic literature are to be explored in your review of the Literature.
The adoption of a discriminating and specific approach at the start of your reflective Learning Log(s) will therefore help to shape the relevant and critical (rather than generic and overly descriptive) literature review required within the main body of the Report. In all cases theoretical models from the Academic literature need to be explored.

Select personal experiences relating to your chosen area
Bullet point or highlight key learning points at the end of your Log or Logs about what youve learned from that particular experience and use these in your Report
Logs go as Appendices to your final paper and should be referred to abundantly throughout your Report
Logs should be written in the First person- however the Report is written in Third person. You do not need to write about Reflective Practice- instead apply it to your Report

An example of a Reflective Log using a Critical Incident can be found in Appendix 3. Note how the student analysis includes not only the physical facts of the incident but also the emotional and sensory components of the experience. The student also explores the perceptions of others and also body language, the use of space and tone of voice in addition to the circumstances leading up to the experience. The focus of the Learning Log is on the writer(student) and how the writer(student) learned from the experience and how the writer(student) intends to apply that learning in the future. The intention to action is a critical step in the reflective process.
Again , if you have not already done so, please access the following link for additional reflective Learning Log scenarios:

You might want to create a table or template with your ideas for possible themes or reflective scenarios. Equally you might want to access the Discussion boards for the IPE module and explore possible themes and scenarios with your fellow IPE students.

Writing the Report

In the Report you will develop one or more key management issues which you have identified. Within the Logs you were asked to draw together your key learning points in order to develop these in the Report and explore using relevant academic theory applied within a practical working environment. This is an opportunity for you to research the specific subject area. Read what other people have written on those management issues. Explore the theory and research and then apply it to particular incidents/episodes in your Logs. Consider how your new knowledge and awareness of yourself and others will influence your future working practice. As an extension of your reflective skills, explore whether your experience agrees with those other authors. It is also an opportunity for you to develop some ideas or theories of your own based on the issues from your Logs. It is more beneficial to explore one major Theme eg Managing Conflict and then 3 or 4 subthemes in great depth than explore several major Themes or Theories at a superficial level.

Useful notes on Report writing can be found on Blackboard and in the Library Resources. See . Also see the book by Reid (2012) on Report writing (Section 4- Reading List). While a Report has a slightly different format to an Essay the basic principles of Academic Writing remain. The following resources will assist you with Academic writing using Academic English and Critical Thinking skills:

Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument (2nd Ed) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Fitzpatrick, M. (2011) Engaging Writing 2: Essential Skills for Academic Writing (2nd Ed) England: Pearson
Gillett, A., Hammond, A. and Martala, M. Inside Track to Successful Academic Writing England: Pearson
Oshima, A. and Hogue, A. (2006) Writing Academic English (4th ED. ) England : Pearson

Tips for writing your Report:

Re-visit the Learning Outcomes
Develop key learning points from your Logs
Consider one dominant area with related subordinate issues to give you depth, rather than using several areas only to a shallow depth
Analyse work based practice through application of relevant theories/models Integrating Professional Experience
Demonstrate academic rigour
Embed your Learning Logs within your Report.
The Report must be written in Third person, using formal academic language- do not use slang or colloquial expressions. A Bibliography is not required.

The Assignment will have the Following format:

Title page
Executive Summary
Contents page
Main Body
Reference List

Please see Appendix 5 – Report Template for further details and instructions for completing the Report.

Submitting Your Assignment

Please see the Guidance on Planning, Preparing and Submitting Assignments (which you will have received as part of your enrollment pack) in conjunction with this advice. You will need to present the work in an organized and logical manner as detailed above. Include a completed submission sheet with your final assignment (available on Blackboard)

Ensure that you have proof read your assignment for grammar, spelling, punctuation, format and content and well as Referencing format. The Report and completed submission sheet are to be uploaded to Blackboard. When you have uploaded your final submission sheet notify your tutor and the Work-based Distance Learning Administration Team . Do not submit to Blackboard until you have approval from your tutor.

All assignments are to be in Arial font, size 11/12 with 1.5 line spacing and Full justification. The word count for the Report is 4000 words (+/- 10%) with the Learning Logs 2000 words (+/- 10%)(excluding Title Page, Executive Summary, Contents List, Reference List and Appendices) .

Section 4?Reading List

Armstrong, M. (2012) Armstrongs Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. 12th edition. London: Kogan Page

Ashleigh, M. and Mansi, A. (2012) The Psychology of People in Organisations. Pearson: Harlow

Boud, D.J., Keogh,R. and Walker, (1987). Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. London: Kogan Page

Bolton, G, (2010). Reflective Practice: writing and professional development. (3rd edition). London: Sage Publications

Densten, I.L and Gray, J.H, (2001). Leadership Development and Reflection: What is the Connection?. The International Journal of Educational Management, Vol 15 No 3, pp 119-124. Available from:

Grey, C and Antonacopoulou, E, (2004) Essential Readings in Management Learning. (ed), London: Sage Publications

Harvey, C and Allard, M (2012) Understanding and Managing Diversity 5th Edition New Jersey: Pearson

Huczynski, A. and Buchanan, D. (2010) Organisational Behaviour. 8th Edition Harlow: Pearson

Johns, C. Burnie, S. Lee, S and Brooks, S. (2013) Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. 4, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell Available from:

Mintzberg, H. (2011) Managing. Harlow: Pearson Education

Mullins, L (2010). Management & Organisational Behaviour (9th edition) Harlow:Pearson Education. Available from:

Moon, J. (2006) Learning Journals: a Handbook for Reflective Practice and Professional Development. (2ndedition) Oxon: Kogan-Page Available from:

Moon, J. (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. RoutledgeFalmer, Oxon. Morrison, K. (1996). Dewey, Habermas and Reflective Practice Curriculum, 16(2),

Nikolou-Walker, E and Garnett, J (2004). Work-Based Learning. A New Imperative: Developing Reflective Practice in Professional Life, Reflective Practice, Vol. 5, No 3, October, pp 297-312.

Pedler, M., Burgoyne, J. and Boydell, T. (2007) A manager\’s guide to self-development. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.

Pedler, M., Burgoyne, J. and Boydell, T. (2010) A Managers Guide to Leadership: An Action Learning Approach. London: McGraw Hill

Reid, M. (2012) Report Writing. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Rollins, D (2006) Professional Development: A Cornerstone Strategy for Change The power and practice of reflection. Public Schools of North Carolina State Board of Education Vol. 3, Number 1, February Available from:

Thompson, D. (1993). Reflection Learning in Improving Student Learning: Theory and Practice. Gibbs G. (ed), Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Development.

Section 5 Appendices

Appendix 1 The Assessment of Learning Logs Criteria

Moon (1999) identifies some helpful general criteria for assessing learning logs and states that journals will need to demonstrate quality in at least some of the following:
?Presentation and legibility
?Number of entries or regularity of entries
?Clarity and good observation in the presentation of events or issues
?Evidence of speculation
?Evidence of a willingness to revise ideas
?Honesty and self-assessment
?Thoroughness of reflection and self-awareness
?Depth and detail of reflective accounts
?Evidence of creative thinking
?Evidence of critical thinking
?A deep approach to the subject matter of the journal
?Representation of different cognitive skills (synthesis, analysis, evaluation etc)
?Relationship of the entries in the journal to any relevant coursework, theories etc
?Match of the content and outcomes of the journal work to course objectives, learning outcomes for the journal or purposes that the journal is intended to fulfill
?Questions that arise from the reflective processes and on which to reflect further.

Appendix 2 Learning Log Template

Title of entry

Brief description

Reflection on outcomes
Reflection on processes

Reflection on the experience of others

Reflection on personal experience

Learning from reflections

Action plan

Key Learning Points (as bullet points)
Appendix 3 Reflective Log Critical Incident

Title of entry

April 22 2012 ?Conflict with colleague
Meeting with John Smith to agree a programme for the auditors visit next week

I had a very difficult meeting with a colleague John Smith. I asked him to approve the programme that I had arranged for a visit with our auditors next week. It was more out of courtesy than because I required his approval. I had planned the programme in response to a letter from the auditors requesting specific information. John disagreed with my planned programme; basically he wanted to lead the visit and wanted to present information that would put him centre stage. His plan did not reflect the information specifically requested by the auditors, in fact, he disregarded their requests.

The meeting did not go well. At one stage I had a very strong urge just to walk out of his office, but I held my ground and did not give in to his bullying. I told him that I found his tone unacceptably patronising but he refused to listen to me and systematically undermined me. He sat on a high chair (all the other chairs in his office are low), put his feet on his desk and generally used body language in a condescending way. The meeting went on for over an hour.

Reflection on outcomes

I got what I wanted out of the meeting, I stood my ground and argued for what I believed to be the best way of handling the visit. John Smith did not change the programme but it left me feeling as if I had been wiped all over the floor.
I felt terrible and felt that I ought to be able to handle meetings with him without feeling bullied. I find his tone unacceptably condescending and the situation was made worse by the way in which he refused to listen to any points that I made. It left me feeling that I need to develop new strategies for handling communication with him, I felt so undermined and inadequate afterwards.

Reflection on processes

I have tried to stand back and analyse the situation from a number of different perspectives. We do not get on, I think he is threatened by my upfront approach to things. He was also annoyed because the auditors had contacted me directly and not him. His use of body language was significant. He used his height and position (feet on desk) to indicate lack of respect for me.

Reflection on the experience of others

I have talked over the experience with three other colleagues, trying not to place the blame on him because I do nott think anything is to be gained by generally complaining about colleagues, but saying that I do have difficulty in meetings with him because I find his tone so bullying. I am trying to develop new strategies for handling the situation. Ive had a range of different responses.

One colleague suggested that there is no one successful way of handling John and that I should try to minimise the times I spend with him and accept that he is a bully.

Another colleague thought that I had handled the situation well at the time but that my mistake was to come out of the situation feeling bad and inadequate. Her attitude was that there will always be difficult times with colleagues like John and it is best to grow a thick skin and not to dwell on or reflect on the situation too much.

Reflection on personal experience

I have tried to think of other people who have this same effect on me and can not think that I have ever been in a similar situation before. I am perhaps being over-sensitive and need to develop a thicker skin. I am sure that he has nott worried about the meeting since.

I will aim not to over-react and remain calm and straight forward in my response to his bullying in future. I do not think the situation would be helped if I tackled it using official channels. I dont want the hassle or the time wasting that will result from formally complaining about him. I would rather deal with the situation myself.
Learning from reflections

Writing this down has helped me to put this incident in perspective. I accept that this colleague is unlikely to change and that a certain amount of thick skin is necessary. I feel reassured that other colleagues think that his behaviour is inappropriate in a number of different situations. I will continue to be straightforward and honest in my response to him but I will also aim to minimise opportunities for him to behave in this way with me.

Action plan

I will be positive and assertive in my dealings with him
I will not arrange meetings in his office
I will suggest that he comes to my office in future.
I will set a limit on time, ask for a 15 minute meeting and arrange to have an appointment following it so that I will not feel trapped by him.
I will reflect on the situation in 3 months time.

Final reflections

3 months later it now seems surprising that I let this colleague upset me so much. He is still a difficult character but I manage my relationship with him much more effectively. I do not ask for approval anymore but I do keep him informed of my activities and occasionally ask for help on tasks. I have learned not to put myself into the position of being his victim and it does seem to be working. I still invite him to my office for meetings and just recently Ive stopped arranging meetings to follow as an escape route.

Appendix 4 Cover Page Template

University of Lincoln

Lincoln Business School

Degree Title
Integrating professional Experience
Unit 2 Integrating Professional Experience (LOG3092M )

Title of your essay

Your name

Student Cohort Number Academic Year

Submitted to: Tutor Name

Day Month Year

Word Count: Report: Learning Log(s):

Appendix 5 Report Template

Title Page- (see Appendix 3)

Executive Summary (150-200 words)
The Executive Summary is an overview of what is included in the Report, allowing the reader to understand the information contained in the Report. Write in your own words, using formal academic language. The Executive Summary is written last.

– State the purpose of the Report- The main purpose of this report is to..
– Describe the procedure used- This report uses two Reflective Learning Logs as an evidence base to inform the Themes (state the themes/subthemes) under discussion.
– State the major findings
– State the Core Recommendations (Bullet points may be used to enhance clarity).

Contents Page
Introduction (400-500 words)

The Introduction introduces the reader to the themes under review. Begin with a powerful sentence to catch the readers attention. State the purpose of the Report, and introduce the Themes using the academic literature to guide the discussion. While the overall aim of the Assignment is to achieve the Learning Outcomes for the Module, here you specifically state what the Report aims to achieve eg:

X is critical function with the Human resources departments of most organisations (Author, year). However this function can be affected by extraneous issues to the detriment of the individual and the organisation. Therefore two themes, A and B will be explored in greater detail to understand how they may impact on the organisation fulfilling that function..

Introduce Theme A and B, linking it to the content of the Log eg.

Theme A will be explored within this Report using the Reflective Logs as evidence to explore how it manifested itself in this scenario
Theme B can provide structure to the X process. However when used negatively it can expose the organisation to the potential for litigation and accusations of unfair practices.. The Reflections will be used to explore how Theme A and Theme B were used to influence the outcome of X. This Report aims to highlight areas for improvement to mitigate the impact of Themes A and B on the Organisations ability to fulfil its X function.

Main Body (3000 words)

The main body is where the key issue and related Theme/Themes will be explored using the Academic literature. The Logs will be cited as evidence to support the Literature.

Within each Theme subthemes can be explored in greater detail. This will ensure that the exploration is an in-depth analysis of the Theme, rather than a superficial overview. Identify the Theme, with corresponding review of the Literature. Then Introduce subthemes. What does the literature say about the subthemes? Explore each, using several authors.

Then contextualise the subthemes- How does the academic literature relate to your experience of that subtheme does it support the literature or were there discrepancies/inconsistencies? Give examples from the Logs. Critique the Literature- compare and contrast eg. How did the subtheme manifest itself in Log A versus Log B?

Conclusion (150-200 words)
The conclusion draws together the key points in each of the subthemes and how they interacted within your Logs. This includes implications for the Organisation and for the Individual (you as the writer).

Recommendations (150-200 words)
These are a list of actionable interventions to improve practice for yourself and the organisation. These can be written as bullet points.

Reference List
This is to be completed in alphabetical order, according to the format in the UoL (2013) Harvard Referencing Handbook.

Here you include your Reflective Learning Logs, labelled as Learning Log 1- Title and Learning Log 2- Title, using the template detailed in Appendix 2.
Appendix 6 Additional University Services

Advice Service
The Advice Service can offer telephone appointments to all students enrolled on a course at the University of Lincoln. There is a website which has a wealth of information available to everyone, accessed by following the link below:

This website also has information available from the three teams that are part on the Advice Service: Student Funding Team, International Advice Team and the Specialist Advice Team.

Careers and Employability Service
The Careers & Employability Service has a website, which has a great deal of information/resources about job hunting, CV writing, what to do with your course and much more:

They are also able to offer students and graduates telephone appointments, as well as face to face and their interview room has a telephone with international capabilities.

Student Wellbeing Centre
This centre addresses the Chaplaincy, Counselling and Disability needs of students, local and international. The Disability Service (previously known as DART) supports any student with a disability , learning difficulty or medical condition. They can provide advice in relation to study skills and other learning strategies and can also arrange diagnostic assessments for Dyslexia. British students with a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia may be eligible for computer resources and special funding.

The University of Lincoln?29
Work Based Distance Learning Degree Intergrating Professional Experience

University of Lincoln
Brayford Pool

The University of Lin.

University of Lincoln

Lincoln Business School

BA(Hons) Business Management (BUSMANUB)

Integrating Professional Experience
Unit 2 Integrating Professional Experience (LOG3092M


Text removed at instruction of student


Submitted to: Caroline Hodgson

11 June 2014

Word Count: Report: 4, 384 Learning Log: 2,188


Executive summary.? 3

Introduction?4 – 5

Part 1 Interpersonal Conflict: an Examination..?6 – 12

?1.1. Basics: Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict ……?6

1.2. The Nature of Interpersonal Conflict?6 – 8

1.3. Interpersonal Conflict Triggers.?8 – 10

1.4. The Significance of Perception.?10

1.5. The Evolution of Interpersonal Conflict?10 – 11

1.6. Classifying Interpersonal Conflict…..?12

Part 2 The Influence of Interpersonal Conflict Upon its Management?13 – 18

2.1. Necessity for Appropriate Handling and Intervention.?13

2.2. Concern Theory and Preferences Towards Conflict Handling
Styles……………………………………………………………………………..?13 – 15

2.3. Approaches to Management, the Influences of Interpersonal
Conflict and the Effectiveness versus Appropriateness of Handling Styles?15 – 17

2.4 Next Steps: A Suggested Way Forward…?18

Conclusion..?19 – 20

References.?20 – 22

Bibliography?23 – 26

Appendix 1 Reflective Learning Log: The Development of Interpersonal Conflict Between Strong, Wilful Personalities in a Small Team, and the Associated Handling of Such a Situation…?A1 – A7


Figure 1: Interpersonal Conflict Properties, adapted from Barki and
Hartwick (2004)……?7

Figure 2: The incompatibility Model, developed by Green (2014).. ?9

Figure 3: The Dual Concern Model, adapted from Rahim and Bonoma

Figure 4: Competence Dimensions and Styles, adapted from Papa and
Canary (1995).?16




This report, presented in 2 parts, critically examines interpersonal conflict in a workplace environment, and looks at how it impacts on conflict management. Part 1 examines the underlying principles of interpersonal conflict, its properties and causes. Part 2 considers a range of conflict handling styles and the impact interpersonal conflict has on management.

The report concludes that interpersonal conflict is dysfunctional, and consequently, it is in the interests of both employee and employer that interpersonal conflict is appropriately managed in order that it does not interfere with either the efficiency and / or effectiveness of work being undertaken. The report also identifies the importance of individual perception where interpersonal conflict is considered.

The report concludes that managers and leaders may be able to more effectively handle interpersonal conflict situations if they have a clearer understanding of its causal factors, but acknowledges that sometimes interpersonal conflicts cannot be successfully managed and may require interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Coaching.


Organizational success is, according to Chekwa and Thomas (2013) largely influenced by cohesive teams and strong interpersonal relationships. As a result, agreeableness and cooperation may be considered desirable for effective workplace output. A survey conducted by Pace (2008,15) however, concluded that 85% of employees experience some degree of conflict at work, with 49% believing personality clashes and warring egos to be the primary causes of conflict . While Singleton et al. (2011) propose that conflict is a natural and inevitable consequence of human interaction, based upon Chekwa and Thomas (2013) assertion, the level of conflict recorded by Pace (2008) is likely to undermine company objectives and productivity, thereby limiting success.

The reflective log in Appendix 1 refers to a workplace situation within a small team, believed to be an example of interpersonal conflict. The log discusses a working relationship involving differences in personality and values, the aftermath of an incident and the evolution and impact of interpersonal conflict. It further describes the attempted management of the situation, the associated consequences of the conflict, and suggestions of how it could have been managed more effectively. Prompted by this experience and to better inform leaders charged with similar responsibilities, this report will seek to examine the features of interpersonal conflict and identify the influences it has upon management and handling styles.

Barki and Hartwick (2004,234) define interpersonal conflict as:

A dynamic process that occurs between interdependent parties as they experience negative emotional reactions to perceived disagreements and interference with the attainment of their goals .

This definition implies that interdependence is the necessary relationship status to enable interpersonal conflict. In this context, interdependence is defined as the dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to others (Chekwa and Thomas, 2013,31). It is proposed that the relationship described in Appendix 1 was interdependent, as mutual reliance existed to facilitate the output of work, and additionally to provide a cordial working environment.

In Part 1 this report will examine the underlying principles surrounding interpersonal conflict and its inherent properties and triggers. The report will further classify interpersonal conflict as negative, and recommend that action is taken to manage it. Part 2 will look at selected handling styles available for both participants and managers, and investigate the specific influences interpersonal conflict has upon its management. The report will not include reference to individual personality traits which, it is acknowledged, may have an additional influence. Neither will the report investigate the conflict or conflict-management process; it simply serves as an aid to raise awareness and understanding of interpersonal conflict and its unique influences to assist a managerial approach.


To effectively examine interpersonal conflict, it is important to review the broader context to understand the features of conflict more widely. This may guide an understanding to assist leaders in the development of strategies to manage a situation. Guttman (2009) suggests a misconception exists where conflict is seen as intrinsically bad. He argues that in some cases, conflict, described as functional (Rahim, 2002; Singleton et al., 2011; Chekwa and Thomas, 2013), can be constructive and provide a stimulus for creativity and innovation. According to Singleton et al. (2011) functional conflict is desirable, and moderate levels could be suggestive of a healthy and dynamic workforce, so should therefore be encouraged.

In contrast, dysfunctional conflict is destructive with negative results (Singleton et al., 2011,151). As a consequence it may have an adverse impact upon organizational success and should therefore be managed. Linked to this, Barki and Hartwicks (2004) earlier definition implies that interpersonal conflict may be negative, disruptive and even destructive. Appendix 1 is suggestive of an undesirable negative atmosphere and has coherence with dysfunctional conflict. It is therefore likely that interpersonal conflict is dysfunctional, although further investigation is necessary to confirm this and to understand its effects.


For effective examination of interpersonal conflict, irrespective of character, it is important to understand its nature and inherent features. It has been widely acknowledged that interpersonal conflict occurs between individuals and/or groups within interdependent relationships (Dana, 2001; Barki and Hartwick, 2004; Chekwa and Thomas, 2013; Spaho, 2013). Barki and Hartwick (2004,235) however suggest that interdependence is more characteristic of the situation than a specific trigger. As such they argue that interdependence is merely the structural pre-condition from which interpersonal conflict may evolve. The individuals within Appendix 1 were a small team, reliant upon each other for professional output and providing a pleasant environment. It could accordingly be concluded that the pre-condition of interdependence was set for interpersonal conflict to exist.
Pondy (1967) suggests three properties as underlying features necessary to stimulate and develop interpersonal conflict: disagreement, negative emotion and interference. According to Barki and Hartwick (2004) these themes reflect the cognitive, affective and behavioural manifestations of a situation. Described as the single theme perspective, Fink (1968) implies that interpersonal conflict could be initiated if any one of the three properties were individually present (represented in Figure 1 by the individual circles, indicating separate properties).

D = Disagreement
I = Interference
NE = Negative emotion

D, I, NE

D, I

Figure 1 Venn diagram of interpersonal conflict properties, adapted from Barki and Hartwick (2004)

Later conceptualization by authors including Jehn (1994), Amason (1996) and Jehn and Chatman (2000) however, argue that the presence of two or all three properties, described as the multiple theme perspective, is necessary for true interpersonal conflict to prevail (shown in Figure 1 by the overlapping segments, representing the presence of two or more properties).

The experience in Appendix 1 indicates the presence of all three conflict properties. Disagreement appeared to exist over personal values, motivation and ethos. Interpreted interference of each others working routine (and therefore expectations) can be seen and furthermore, both parties demonstrate negative emotion through oral communication and physical behaviour.

Jehn (1994) recommends a dominance of negative emotion within the triumvirate of interpersonal conflict properties. Notwithstanding this, Barki and Hartwick (2004) argue that for interfering behaviour such as political manoeuvring or destruction to take place, there is likely to be an element of disagreement. Equally, they propose that disagreement will undoubtedly be present if negative emotion and interference exist. While the single theme argued by Fink (1968) is not dismissed, the experience in Appendix 1 overwhelmingly supports the multiple theme perspective and has coherence with Barki and Hartwicks (2004) definition of interpersonal conflict. Based on this evidence it is therefore offered that a combination of all three properties within an interdependent relationship, consistent with the multiple theme perspective, must be present for interpersonal conflict to exist.

Given an understanding of the three inherent properties and pre-condition of interpersonal conflict, it may be possible for managers to recognize potential flash points that could trigger its existence. It is suggested that, had the properties been understood by the manager in Appendix 1, intervention measures such as clarification of individuals boundaries and organizational expectations, 360-degree communication and team activities could have been taken to encourage mutual understanding. It is therefore recommended that a fundamental managerial strength is the understanding and early recognition of conflict warning signs in order to effectively intervene and manage a situation.


In their analysis, Chekwa and Thomas (2013,31) suggest that interdependence may contribute to either cooperation or conflict. Furthermore, Starks (2007, cited in Singleton et al., 2011,151) argues that conflict can result when values, goals, expectations or interests differ. This implies that a relationship based upon synchronized needs, attitudes and expectations may be necessary to maintain balance and understanding. Consequently, it could be argued that harmonized needs, attitudes and expectations would more likely lead to cooperation. Similarly a divergence may provoke disagreement, negative emotion and/or interference, thus creating conditions for interpersonal conflict.

Appendix 1 illustrates a stark difference in the attitude, ethos and preparedness to work. For example the two civilian clerks had become accustomed to a casual working environment (Appendix 1) and probably thought the new regime unjustified ( Appendix 2), whereas SSgt A had a strong work ethic and wished to get the best out of everyone ( Appendix 2). This significant opposition of needs, attitudes and expectations could explain the divergence of values and beliefs between the individuals, and may be representative of the trigger for disagreement and behavioural differences.

Figure 2 represents diametrically opposing needs, attitudes and expectations of two colleagues (illustrated by opposing triangles) bound by an organizational central anchor or pivot. It is suggested that when the attributes are at odds, the triangles clash, are incompatible, and as such are un-cooperative. It is offered that only with the influence of an external force (such as management), anchored by an organizational ethos, could the triangles be steered and thus encouraged to have greater alignment and harmony therefore improving cooperation.


N = Needs
A = Attitude
E = Expectations

= External force

Figure 2 The Incompatibility Model of misaligned Needs, Attitudes and Expectations, developed by Green (2014)

The idea of attribute misalignment supports Hastings (2007), who highlights a number of factors that can prompt workplace tension. He includes: differences in personalities, inappropriate actions or comments, and different beliefs or perspectives regarding personal characteristics. It would be difficult and morally wrong to attempt to interfere with personalities, however it may be appropriate for a leader to shape beliefs, values and perspectives, based upon an organizational theme. The provoking comment made by SSgt A in Appendix 1 is considered an example of a divergence of beliefs or perspective which is likely to have been the catalyst for disagreement and negative emotion.
It is therefore suggested a function of management (external force in Figure 2) is to understand conflict triggers and recognize when such attributes are opposed or unbalanced and, critically, to act upon this. Had the manager in Appendix 1 understood this concept, intervention could have sought to align the opposing values and beliefs. Reinforcement of organizational culture and expectations, and promotion of a group ethos may have provided a greater sense of belonging, or engendered a desire to operate as a team. This may have potentially harmonized attributes which accordingly could result in greater interpersonal cooperation and less conflict.


It is important to highlight and explore perceptions when examining interpersonal conflict, particularly when referencing it against Barki and Hartwicks (2004) definition. The definition implies that disagreement and/or interference do not explicitly have to be present; they merely have to be perceived to exist (by a single party). It could therefore be suggested that the existence of interpersonal conflict is predicated upon an individuals interpretation of a situation. This theory is supported by Appendix 1, where the interpretation of a comment is one of belligerence and negativity, and in response is met with what is assessed as defensive hostility.

Barki and Hartwick (2004) believe interpretations form perceptions and are likely to be framed by personal views and beliefs. Based upon this reasoning the significance of perception is considerable given that the impact perceived by one individual may be far greater than the intent from the other. This was arguably the case in Appendix 1, where the comment had a significant impact upon the recipient, despite the alleged unintentional meaning from SSgt A. It is suggested that in this example, the perception of one individual, based upon a perceived disagreement, interference and associated negative emotion led to a state of interpersonal conflict.

According to Spaho (2013), those within a situation who interpret it as interpersonal conflict, often fail to perceive the other partys subsequent actions and behaviours objectively. Indeed, according to Iqbal and Fatima (2013,231), this negative perception hinders group members performance by limiting their ability to process information, and fostering antagonistic behaviour. This argument highlights the significance of effective communication. According to Richmond et al. (2005, cited in Spaho, 2013,) communication involves a process of stimulating meaning through verbal or nonverbal messaging. It is therefore suggested that poor communication by an individual could negatively influence the perception of another. This in turn could potentially lead to disagreement, negative emotion or interference, and thus the emergence of interpersonal conflict. The no-nonsense, emotionally void approach ( Appendix 1) could have been perceived as snappy and aggressive, which combined with a perceived interference of the working environment could account for Mrs Bs volatile reaction. It is suggested that perceptions are unique and personal which therefore cannot be modified by a manager. Consequently, a leader must have an awareness of the impact of behaviours and should focus upon improving behavioural characteristics of staff based upon organizational values in order to shape positive perceptions.


Having considered the nature and the triggers of interpersonal conflict, it is valuable to understand the potential development and evolution from initial manifestation. Andersson and Pearson (1999) introduced the Incivility Spiral that illustrated an individuals perception of an incivility from another party, and their potential reaction with further incivility. While Andersson and Pearson (1999) declare points of departure, the theory demonstrates potential for further escalation. The hostile reaction from the perceived belligerent comment described in Appendix 1 is supportive of this concept. Furthermore, this theory is consistent with the popcorn model (Schat and Kelloway, 2005, cited in Trudel and Reio, 2011) where repeated minor offences may eventually lead to an explosion of aggression (Trudel and Reio, 2011). It is offered that the two models represent the potential evolution of uncivil behaviour based upon individual perceptions and are coherent with the example in Appendix 1. It could be argued that some instances of interpersonal conflict may be the consequence of initial unintentional behaviour; poorly judged and/or miscommunicated that is perceived as objectionable. This was almost certainly the case in Appendix 1, where SSgt A insisted the impact of his comment was entirely unintended. Knowledge and understanding of ill-judged actions could not only encourage managers to invest in training skills such as effective communication, but it also provides justification for early intervention. The experience in Appendix 1 may have benefitted from greater managerial understanding of conflict evolution to manage the situation more effectively.


Singleton et al. (2011) highlight some consequences of dysfunctional conflict including: reduced motivation, lower productivity, and strained relationships. Falconer (2004) further suggests that dysfunctional conflict may result in a focus on point scoring over solution finding; a blame culture and negative workplace politics. Having considered the nature of interpersonal conflict, identified some triggers and discussed the human factor of perception, balanced against the definition and consequences, it is recommended that interpersonal conflict is indeed dysfunctional. While it was argued that moderate levels of disagreement might be considered desirable due to the encouragement of innovation and creativity (Singleton et al., 2011, 150), it is agreed that a combination of acute disagreement, interference and negative emotions are likely to be destructive with negative results.

This reasoning is supported by the behaviour demonstrated in Appendix 1 such as refusal to work or cooperate with a colleague, reduced productivity and aggressive confrontation. This created a toxic environment as friction developed and relationships deteriorated. It is also suggested that the argument is supported by the escalation of hostility described by the incivility spiral (Andersson and Pearson, 1999), which is again reflected in Appendix 1. As such, workplace interpersonal conflict is considered undesirable (Chekwa and Thomas, 2013) and therefore requires managing to mitigate its impact and enhance organizational success.



Part 1 considered the drivers of interpersonal conflict and potential for escalation. Ting-Toomey et al. (1991) however, argue that the greatest risk of tension can come from differences in approach to handling and/or management rather than the conflict manifestation itself. Indeed Falconer (2004) argues that conflicts can even be caused or compounded by actions or inactions. This thinking could suggest that the properties and characteristics previously discussed may simply be early or intermediate stages of an interpersonal conflict situation. It is therefore offered that advanced stages of conflict could be predicated upon frustration and dissatisfaction with the handling of a situation. It could be argued that this thinking was evidenced in Appendix 1 where the prolonged period of unease and a delay in action led to deep-rooted resentment from at least one participant. If positive handling or formal action had been taken earlier, the situation may have been placated before the conflict reached an advanced level (for example, the refusal to cooperate). Based upon this, it is proposed that meaningful and timely action and intervention is fundamental to prevent conflict entering advanced stages, potentially beyond manageable control.


A key factor affecting interpersonal conflict according to Rahim (2002) is the particular style of behaviour adopted by a participant. In their interpretation of conflict handling styles: The Dual Concern Model (illustrated at Figure 3), Rahim and Bonoma (1979) describe the extent to which a person attempts to satisfy their own concerns, measured against their concern for others. The pair argue that the strength and combination of the two motivations correspond to five specific handling styles: integrating, obliging, compromising, dominating and avoiding.

Concern for Self
High Low





Figure 3 The Dual Concern Model of the Styles of Handling Interpersonal Conflict, adapted from Rahim and Bonoma (1979)

It is proposed that the handling styles illustrated in Figure 3 accurately represent the experience described in Appendix 1. Based upon his willingness to sacrifice himself and his desire to appease, it is suggested that SSgt A (represented by A in Figure 3) held a moderate/low concern for himself and a moderate concern for others. This level of concern corresponds to a compromising style in the Dual Concern Model and associates with his behaviour in Appendix 1. SSgt A appeared less passionate about his underlying beliefs and yielded to Mrs B therefore cooperating in order to escape the anguish (Appendix 2). The motivation however of Mrs B (represented by B in Figure 3), is likely to have been a high concern for herself based upon her dominant personality and self-elevated status. Furthermore, it is proposed that Mrs Bs stubborn and unforgiving nature, and general lack of dedication is indicative of a low concern for others. According to Rahim and Bonoma (1979), this concern combination equates to a dominating handling style. This dominating form of behaviour was evidenced by her volatile demeanour and un-cooperativeness which led to those around her (including the manager) avoiding confrontation for fear of further conflict.

Having considered the Dual Concern Model and related it to the experience in Appendix 1, it is agreed that an individuals preference for handling conflict will differ according to the development of the situation, and will be further influenced by the motivational concerns held. With this understanding leaders should therefore seek to influence and steer the motivations of participants in order to encourage positive behaviour in finding functional solutions. It could be argued that having failed to act initially, the manager in Appendix 1 permitted (and tacitly encouraged) Mrs B to maintain a dominating posture. This arguably compounded the situation and prevented a meaningful and timely resolution.


Having considered the handling styles relevant to participants of interpersonal conflict it is necessary to examine managerial approaches to further appreciate the influences interpersonal conflict can have. Blake and Mouton (1964, cited in Moberg, 1998, 259) argue that managerial behaviours in conflict situations tend to be consistent and as such, likely to be representative of individual leader characteristics (Moberg, 1998). Rahim (2002) however contends that a contingency approach (adapting behaviour according to the situation) has greater effectiveness than a single style. It is suggested that the experience in Appendix 1 supports the contingency strategy as the complexities of interpersonal conflict (driven by emotions and influenced by perceptions) would not be adequately addressed by a single, common handling style. A bespoke, emotionally aware and case-sensitive approach according to the situation, and, critically, to the individual, could be considered a more effective style. As such, given that the five handling styles proposed by Rahim and Bonoma (1979) present a spectrum of behaviour (from cooperation to inaction) and that managerial intervention could vary from minimal to significant, it is proposed that the handling styles may equally be applied to a leaders preference for handling interpersonal conflict.

Furthermore, according to Gross and Guerrero (2000) the five handling styles can also be associated with varying perceptions of competence. Papa and Canary (1995) argue that this perception of competence is a key determinate of handling style preference that constitutes an additional influence upon overall management. In their model (Figure 4) Papa and Canary (1995) overlay two dimensions of competence: effectiveness and appropriateness against some of the handling styles.


Figure 4 Overlay of Competence Dimensions against handling Styles adapted from Papa and Canary (1995, cited in Gross and Guerrero ,2000)

Gross and Guerrero (2000) state that integrating is the most desirable style as it focuses on creative problem solving and meeting the goals of all parties; described as a win-win approach (Rahim, 2002). Integrating is also illustrated in Figure 4 as being perceived as highly competent in terms of both appropriateness and effectiveness. Papa and Canarys (1995) competence illustration appears reasonable in that the integrating style attempts to involve all parties rather than favouring participants. It could however be argued that the integrating style relies upon a high degree of concern for others (from disputing participants) in order to truly satisfy the groups needs and encourage cooperation. Although Papa and Canary (1995) advocate the integrating style as the optimum preference, it has some limitations. The example in Appendix 1 implies that the specific influences of interpersonal conflict, with deep-rooted negative emotion, and a low concern for others, may prove difficult for a manager to implement. This is principally due to the extreme unwillingness of a participant to concede and cooperate. This therefore provides a critical influence of interpersonal conflict upon its management.

Where stalemate exists, a dominating style may potentially break the deadlock. Described by Rahim (2002) as a win-lose approach, the dominating style according to Figure 4 is effective, but due to its nature of forcing cooperation, is not perceived as appropriate. It could also be argued that if the drivers and properties of interpersonal conflict do indeed possess the significance previously attributed, forcing behaviour by a manager may not be achievable due to the strength of feeling and sheer unwillingness to cooperate. It is proposed that the depth of emotional feelings described in Appendix 1 led to the inflexibility held by Mrs B. An attempted dominating approach or forcing action in this instance would likely have led to further conflict and as such is another heavy influence upon interpersonal conflict management.

The compromising style, described as splitting the difference by Gross and Guerrero (2000, 208), suggests a trade-off of needs. Given the gravitas placed upon the negative emotions associated with interpersonal conflict, it is argued that a compromising solution is likely to have only short-term success as the drivers of disagreement are likely to remain. As a result, it is offered that a compromising handling style is unlikely to serve as an effective solution for an interpersonal conflict situation. Avoidance (as demonstrated in the early stages in Appendix 1) does not contribute to solving the conflict-causing problem and may simply compound the issue due to a persistent toxic environment. It is therefore agreed that the avoiding style is correctly annotated in Figure 4 as both inappropriate and ineffective for interpersonal conflict management. Finally, by satisfying the needs of others, potentially at the expense of organizational needs, an obliging style by a manager (according to Figure 4) is considered appropriate but ineffective overall. A degree of obliging behaviour was evident in Appendix 1; a pacifying gesture (Appendix 2), which is likely to have strengthened Mrs Bs position and further failed to aid problem solving. Consequently the obliging style is not recommended as a managerial approach for handling interpersonal conflict.

Having considered some of the handling styles available, it is evident that interpersonal conflict is inherently complex with a number of influencing factors upon its management, particularly the significance of negative emotion. While each of the styles examined may have some degree of success in general conflict situations, the specific influences of interpersonal conflict are likely to be limiting factors for its management. As such, it is clear that a very carefully considered approach, accounting for all contributing factors is required when dealing with an interpersonal conflict situation, and that early identification and attention is required.


If emotions have peaked to the extent where interpersonal conflict handling styles have been exhausted and cooperation appears unlikely, there may be utility in seeking professional assistance to address the issue and break the impasse. One option, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching, stimulates and develops thoughts, emotions and behaviours and offers methods and strategies to cope with difficult situations (Gyllensten et al., 2010). It may be that a Cognitive Behavioural Coach can encourage constructive thought processes to increase individual awareness and explore the underlying conflict factors in order to help find a positive way forward. Indeed Ducharme (2004,215) suggests that altering ones thought patterns in reaction to an event can result in changes to the way one subsequently behaves . Given the complexities of interpersonal conflict and the potential stalemate that can result, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching is offered as a possible course of action for a manager to attempt to break the deadlock and ultimately enhance organizational success. CONCLUSION

Due to its destructive characteristics (Singleton et al., 2011) and likelihood to negatively impact an organization, interpersonal conflict must be considered dysfunctional. Consequently, in the interests of both company and employees, it is recommended that interpersonal conflict is managed in order to enhance productivity and organizational success. Effective management of interpersonal conflict requires a clear understanding of the underlying factors that provoke it and an appreciation of its influences, which this report has sought to highlight.

It has been discussed that Pondys (1967) three properties of interpersonal conflict (disagreement; negative emotion; and interference) serve as stimulants for its existence within interdependent relationships. While it is agreed with Jehns (1994) argument that negative emotion is the dominant of the three properties, a combination of two or more properties are likely to be required for interpersonal conflict to exist. A misalignment of needs, attitudes and/or expectations between individuals has also examined. It is possible that such differences may trigger some or all of Pondys (1967) properties and consequently precipitate interpersonal conflict.

The significance of perception was illustrated as another fundamental factor of interpersonal conflict. As implied by Barki and Hartwicks (2004) definition, disagreement and/or interference merely have to be perceived for negative emotion to exist. Combined with the significant potential for evolution (as suggested by Andersson and Pearson (1999)) it could be said that interpersonal conflict is a particularly dynamic and complex managerial problem. Indeed, Brodtker and Jameson (2001, cited in Desivilya and Yagil, 2005, 57) confirm that interpersonal conflict is such an emotionally defined and driven process recognizing this fact fundamentally alters ones approach to conflict management.

The report highlights the specific influences interpersonal conflict has upon its handling and management. It is argued that the manifestation of interpersonal conflict may alter a participants feelings and concern towards others. While Gross and Guerrero (2000) suggest that those focussed on others tend to use more constructive or cooperative handling styles, it is contended that the properties of interpersonal conflict, specifically negative emotion, could encourage a tendency for less cooperative handling styles.

Selected managerial handling approaches for interpersonal conflict situations have also been explored. Papa and Canary (1995) propose that the integrating and dominant styles are most effective (although differing in levels of appropriateness), however it is argued that due to the potential intensity of interpersonal conflict properties, both styles have limitations. As a result of sheer unwillingness to cooperate or compromise, the likelihood of a manager finding an integrated solution or forcing a dominating style is likely to be reduced.

With a clearer understanding of the underlying principles and influencing factors of interpersonal conflict, it may be possible for a manager or leader to exercise a greater and more effective level of control over a situation than was demonstrated in Appendix 1. However, if the situation is such that cooperation simply appears unachievable following managerial action, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching is offered as a professional alternative to assist in managing specific individuals.

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Cai, D. A. and Fink, E. L. (2002) Conflict Style Differences Between Individualists and Collectivists. Communication Monographs, National Communication Association, 69 (1) 67-87

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Fink, C. F. (1968) Some Conceptual Difficulties in the Theory of Social Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 12, 412-460

Gross, M. A. and Guerrero, L. K. (2000) Managing Conflict Appropriately and Effectively: An Application of the Competence Model to Rahims Organizational Conflict Styles. International Journal of Conflict Management, 11 (3) 200-226

Guttmann, H. (2009) Conflict Management as a Core Competency for HR Professionals. People and Strategy, 32 (1) 32-39

Gyllensten, K., Palmer, S., Nilsson, E., Regner, A. M. and Frodi, A. (2010) Experiences of Cognitive Coaching: A Qualitative Study. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5 (2) 98-108

Hastings, R. (2007) Conflict Management Contributes to Communication. HR Magazine, 52 (1) 4

Iqbal, M. Z. and Fatima, A. (2013) Interpersonal Conflict Handling Styles: A Collectivist Co-workers Perspective on its causes and Effects. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 28 (1) 125-153

Jehn, K. A. (1994) Enhancing Effectiveness: An Investigation of Advantages and Disadvantages of Value-based Intragroup Conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 5, 223-238

Jehn, K. A. and Chatman, J. (2000) The Influence of Proportional and Perceptual Conflict Composition on Team Performance. International Journal of Conflict Management, 11, 56-73

Moberg, P. J. (1998) Predicting Conflict Strategy with Personality Traits: Incremental Validity and the Five Factor Model. International Journal of Conflict Management, 9 (3) 258-285

Pace, A. (2008) Make Conflict your Ally. Training and Development, 62 (12) 14-15

Pondy, L. R. (1967) Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models. Administration Science Quarterly, 12, 296-320

Pruitt, D. G. (1983) Strategic Choice in Negotiation. American Behavioural Scientist, 27, 167-194

Rahim, M. A. (1985) A Strategy for Managing Conflict in Complex Organizations. Human Relations, 38, 81-89

Rahim, M. A. (2002) Toward a Theory of Managing Organizational Conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 13 (3) 206-235

Rahim, M. A. and Bonoma, T. V. (1979) Managing Organizational Conflict: A Model for diagnosis and intervention. Psychological Reports, 44, 1323-1344

Singleton, R., Toombs, L. A., Taneja, S., Larkin, C. and Golden Pryor, M. (2011) Workplace Conflict: A Strategic Leadership Imperative. International Journal of Business and Public Administration, 8 (1) 149-163

Spaho, K. (2013) Organizational Communication and Conflict Management. Management, 18 (1) 103-118

Thomas, K. W. (1976) Conflict and Conflict Management. In: M. D. Dunnette (ed.) Handbook in Industrial and Organizational psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally, 889-935

Ting-Toomey, S., Gau, G., Trubisky, P., Yang, Z., Kim, H. S, Lin, S. and Nishida, T. (1991) Culture, Face Maintenance, and Styles of Handling Interpersonal Conflict: A Study in Five Cultures. International Journal of Conflict Management, 2, 275-296

Trudel, J. and Reio, T. (2011) Managing Workplace Incivility: The Role of Conflict Management Styles Antecedent or Antidote? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22 (4) 395-423


Amason, A. C. (1996) Distinguishing the Effects of Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict on Strategic Decision Making: Resolving a Paradox for Top Management Teams. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 123-148

Andersson, L. M. and Pearson, C. M. (1999) Tit for Tat? The Spiralling Effect of Incivility in the Workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24, 452-471

Argyris, C. (1957) Personality and Organization. A Harper International Reprint. New York: Harper and Row

Barki, H. and Hartwick, J. (2004) Conceptualizing the Construct of Interpersonal Conflict. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 15 (3) 216-244

Cai, D. A. and Fink, E. L. (2002) Conflict Style Differences Between Individualists and Collectivists. Communication Monographs, National Communication Association, 69 (1) 67-87

Chekwa, C. and Thomas, E. (2013) Is Interpersonal Conflict a Death Sentence to Team Building? International Journal of Business and Public Administration, 10 (2) 30-44

Dana, D. (2001) Conflict Resolution: Mediation Tools for Everyday Work Life. [online] Ney York: McGraw-Hill. Available from [Accessed 24 March 2014]

Desivilya, H. S. and Yagil, D. (2005) The Role of Emotions in Conflict Management: The Case of Work Teams. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 16 (1) 55-69

Ducharme, M. J. (2004) The Cognitive-Behavioural Approach to Executive Coaching. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 56 (4) 214-224

Falconer, H. (2004) IRS Managing Conflict in the Workplace. [online] Bath: Bath Press. Available from [Accessed 27 March 2014]

Fink, C. F. (1968) Some Conceptual Difficulties in the Theory of Social Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 12, 412-460

Frost, P. J. (2003) Toxic Emotions at Work. Boston: Harvard Business School Press

Gross, M. A. and Guerrero, L. K. (2000) Managing Conflict Appropriately and Effectively: An Application of the Competence Model to Rahims Organizational Conflict Styles. International Journal of Conflict Management, 11 (3) 200-226

Guttmann, H. (2009) Conflict Management as a Core Competency for HR Professionals. People and Strategy, 32 (1) 32-39

Gyllensten, K., Palmer, S., Nilsson, E., Regner, A. M. and Frodi, A. (2010) Experiences of Cognitive Coaching: A Qualitative Study. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5 (2) 98-108

Hastings, R. (2007) Conflict Management Contributes to Communication. HR Magazine, 52 (1) 4

Iqbal, M. Z. and Fatima, A. (2013) Interpersonal Conflict Handling Styles: A Collectivist Co-workers Perspective on its causes and Effects. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 28 (1) 125-153

Jehn, K. A. (1994) Enhancing Effectiveness: An Investigation of Advantages and Disadvantages of Value-based Intragroup Conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 5, 223-238

Jehn, K. A. and Chatman, J. (2000) The Influence of Proportional and Perceptual Conflict Composition on Team Performance. International Journal of Conflict Management, 11, 56-73

Kindler, H. S. (1996) Managing Disagreement Constructively. California: Crisp Publications

Moberg, P. J. (1998) Predicting Conflict Strategy with Personality Traits: Incremental Validity and the Five Factor Model. International Journal of Conflict Management, 9 (3) 258-285

Pace, A. (2008) Make Conflict your Ally. Training and Development, 62 (12) 14-15

Pascale, R. (1990) Managing on the Edge. London: Penguin Books

Pondy, L. R. (1967) Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models. Administration Science Quarterly, 12, 296-320

Pruitt, D. G. (1983) Strategic Choice in Negotiation. American Behavioural Scientist, 27, 167-194

Rahim, M. A. (1985) A Strategy for Managing Conflict in Complex Organizations. Human Relations, 38, 81-89

Rahim, M. A. (2002) Toward a Theory of Managing Organizational Conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 13 (3) 206-235

Rahim, M. A. and Bonoma, T. V. (1979) Managing Organizational Conflict: A Model for diagnosis and intervention. Psychological Reports, 44, 1323-1344

Roach, W. and Teague, P. (2012) Do Conflict Management Systems Matter? Human Resource Management, 51 (2) 231-258

Singleton, R., Toombs, L. A., Taneja, S., Larkin, C. and Golden Pryor, M. (2011) Workplace Conflict: A Strategic Leadership Imperative. International Journal of Business and Public Administration, 8 (1) 149-163

Spaho, K. (2013) Organizational Communication and Conflict Management. Management, 18 (1) 103-118

Taylor, B. (1989) Assertiveness and the Management of Conflict. London: Oasis Publications

Thomas, K. W. (1976) Conflict and Conflict Management. In: M. D. Dunnette (ed.) Handbook in Industrial and Organizational psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally, 889-935

Ting-Toomey, S., Gau, G., Trubisky, P., Yang, Z., Kim, H. S, Lin, S. and Nishida, T. (1991) Culture, Face Maintenance, and Styles of Handling Interpersonal Conflict: A Study in Five Cultures. International Journal of Conflict Management, 2, 275-296

Trudel, J. and Reio, T. (2011) Managing Workplace Incivility: The Role of Conflict Management Styles Antecedent or Antidote? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22 (4) 395-423



Title of entry

The development of interpersonal conflict between strong, wilful personalities in a small team and the associated handling of the situation.


A dispute occurred within a small team that was required to work closely together. A newly arrived male military Chief Clerk, Staff Sergeant A (SSgt A), was the de facto supervisor of two part-time civilian clerks (Mrs B and Mrs C). However as the officer (working in the headquarters but not within the administrative field), I was the line manager for all three individuals. Immediately after SSgt As arrival, tensions surfaced amongst the team and friction developed. During a heated disagreement, SSgt A allegedly commented that he wished he had military rather than civilian clerks as he believed military clerks would work harder and longer each day. His reasoning was based upon the civilian part-time contract and his interpretation of the civil service ethos, in the context of an incredibly busy headquarters with a heavy administrative burden. The reaction to the comment was hostility towards SSgt A, which led to what may be described as interpersonal conflict between all three individuals. Key factors that contextualize the incident include:

SSgt A had recently arrived at the unit; he had a very traditional no-nonsense, emotionally void approach to both work and colleagues. This drastically changed the environment and therefore dynamic within the work place.
The two civilian clerks had become accustomed to a casual working environment and informal working relationships with colleague since SSgt As predecessor was a female with whom they shared many interests and socialized with outside of work.

Reflection on outcomes
Reflecting upon this experience, I feel I could have handled the situation more effectively. Text removed at instruction of student . Due to the impact of his comment, the working environment became tense and unpleasant. The disagreement had reached stalemate and despite a series of escalatory measures to manage the situation, the situation was negatively impacting upon the working environment. I felt that in the interests of the organization one of the individuals should move. SSgt A had requested a removal and it was my belief that his position was no longer tenable. Essentially, having exhausted what was believed to be all other possible solutions, I sought to remove the source of the problem in an attempt to reinstate calm.

SSgt A was Text removed at instruction of student, however on reflection I question whether this was morally right. Perhaps it was simply the easiest thing to do to satisfy the majority? SSgt A had a strong work ethic and wished to get the best out of everyone which I found admirable, but now believe his approach was probably too aloof for his co-workers within the working environment. SSgt As style did not complement Mrs B who had a dominant personality and was considerably less dedicated. SSgt A was Text removed at instruction of student because Mrs B (and to an extent Mrs C) effectively refused to work with him despite oral and written apologies. I cant help but feel that I should have been firmer with the two clerks who were, on reflection the disruptive elements having stubbornly rejected SSgt A.

The civil service disciplinary process is notoriously complicated and I admit that I was fearful of a protracted dispute had I pursued action against Mrs B. Furthermore, in hindsight, I was concerned that a potential complaint could be raised against me (for unfair treatment) if I pursued action, considering the situation was born of SSgt As remarks. Ultimately it seems that I not only reinforced, but strengthened Mrs Bs self-appointed elevated status and self concern. This led to further complications (on a separate matter) when I was less tolerant of Mrs Bs behaviour. The fact that I challenged Mrs B was met with utter disbelief.

Having retrospectively considered this experience and identified the influencing factors, I believe that I failed to act appropriately in this situation due to a lack of moral courage.

Reflection on processes

The process I followed throughout the disagreement was, in my opinion demonstrably escalatory and at the time felt unbiased and fair. Despite being the line manager for all three, this was an organizational oddity and I was not directly involved in the administrative function of the unit. I was aware of a personality difference and as such attempted to improve the situation with team building activities. While I feel this was a beneficial approach, which may have delayed the eventual clash, it did not have the desired effect of resetting and normalizing the team. I think the individuals concerned had developed a deep emotional dislike for each other and their values were in such contrast that they were simply incompatible.

Following SSgt As comment, I attempted to settle differences through a series of meetings with a view to help each member understand one another and encourage a formal apology from SSgt A. While SSgt A was at fault for the comment, I didnt immediately pursue formal disciplinary action. Other factors, including Mrs Bs demeanour and alleged provocation influenced my reasoning for this. I knew Mrs B was not without fault so I proceeded to unpack and lay bare the dispute with the participants to encourage mutual understanding. In hindsight, perhaps I should have been firmer with SSgt A earlier and put him on a formal warning; demonstrating to Mrs B and C that the organization had taken appropriate disciplinary action. By doing this, I could have provided a greater level of closure to the incident; however it did not seem entirely fair to solely punish SSgt A.

Mrs B never forgave SSgt A for his comment, as such the dispute continued. Had I given SSgt A an immediate formal warning, it may have allowed me to later intervene with greater effectiveness by being firmer with Mrs B (who continued to hold a grudge). The process escalated to formal interviews that I mediated. The evidence suggested that the source of conflict now resided with Mrs B as she had effectively refused to work with SSgt A. Had I acted faster with a formal warning to SSgt A, I could at this stage have been in a position to discipline Mrs B for disruptive behaviour and antagonism. We could not reach a resolution, and due to the continued conflict, SSgt A was at this stage given a formal warning for his initial comment. If Im honest, this was in part a pacifying gesture to Mrs B and C in order to gain closure to the situation.

The friction continued and Text removed at instruction of student. While important, I may have placed too much emphasis on indirect influencing factors rather than dealing with the obvious situation. If I had been more robust from the outset, I may have later been in a stronger position to discipline further wrongdoings, rather than feeling obliged to appease Mrs B following the initial remark.

Reflection on the
experience of others

SSgt A had served for many years in a male dominated part of the military with no experience working alongside the civil service. He was thick-skinned and output driven and could not immediately understand how his remark could have caused offence. I think he believed the incident had spiralled into something far greater than it was, and in hindsight, I agree. SSgt A requested to be removed from post in order to escape the anguish and start afresh. The environment had become so miserable that he sacrificed himself for peace, which ultimately resolved the conflict, but didnt necessarily solve the problem. It is possible that he felt the system did not back him sufficiently.

Mrs B had worked at the unit for a number of years Text removed at instruction of student. It is my belief that she felt this gave her greater status generally. I think the arrival of SSgt A and his strong work ethic was a culture shock for Mrs B and C who, having normalized to a relaxed working environment, probably thought the new regime unjustified. It is my belief that Mrs Bs actions throughout the entire experience were in retaliation for the unwelcome change SSgt A brought.

Reflection on personal experience

Having had time to consider the entire experience, it is my belief that I did not handle the incident as effectively as I could. An influencing factor was the complaint culture that existed and was heavily promoted within the unit Text removed at instruction of student I was keen to resolve the conflict at the lowest level (a principle of the military complaint management system) but I was very aware of Mrs Bs spiteful personality and, to an extent empathized with SSgt A. I tried to make all parties realize their failings, apologize and grant forgiveness to each other and frankly, I was exhausted with Mrs Bs stubborn nature. Perhaps I should have immediately reprimanded SSgt A for his wrongdoing and simultaneously confronted Mrs B regarding her provocation and attitude?

I was also very unsure of the civil service discipline system. I knew that it was a convoluted process that required substantial evidence and would likely create an unbearable environment if I proceeded. I also feared that due to her volatile nature, I myself could become embroiled in conflict with Mrs B had I initiated disciplinary action.

Learning from reflections

It is clear that even before the incident, Mrs Bs attitude towards work was substandard. Upon my arrival at the unit, I should have identified this and intervened to improve her performance. A combination of not wishing to unsettle the existing dynamic and Mrs Bs fiery personality prevented me from directly engaging. On reflection, I absolutely should have challenged her for the benefit of the organization and for those around her (including me).

Group dynamics are a fundamental feature of effective working relationships. It only takes one person (a small imbalance) to destabilize a situation; therefore small failings must be addressed to maintain harmony.

Personality clashes can have devastating consequences. The longer they fester, the harder they are to resolve. Once a problem is identified, it must be acted upon quickly to settle differences within a group. In the event of conflict, the underlying issue must be quickly identify and a plan developed to correct it.

A thorough understanding of the discipline system is essential to managing conflict. Confident knowledge of the system will empower and strengthen managers in todays litigious blame culture.

It is essential to be completely unbiased when managing conflict; a dispassionate approach is crucial. Thoughts and beliefs can be tested with colleagues and confidantes to prevent hasty decisions and ensure fair action. It is critical that the right thing is done for all parties including the organization. Doing the morally right thing is not always straightforward, but is preferable to the easy route or path of least resistance.

Understand the influencing factors within a dispute and how they guide behaviour and activity. Analyze and then accept or discount the factors as appropriate when determining a course of action. Seek advice if necessary to test views.

Action plan

I have found the process of deliberate and critical reflection of this experience incredibly insightful. Having identified flaws in my management approach, I aim to better understand and therefore exhibit leadership principles, specifically that of demonstrating greater moral courage. I will seek to integrate the understanding from this reflection and adopt the key learning points drawn from the process.

I will especially take time to better understand the dynamic of a group and identify where potential problems could occur to assist in the development of preventative strategies to mitigate appropriately.

Key Learning Points

Understand. Do not underestimate the impact individual personalities can have within a group.
Analyse. When faced with a conflict or dispute, conduct a full analysis of factors, influences, personalities and history in order to ensure the source of the problem is treated rather than simply the symptom.
Intervene. Seek to quickly understand the group dynamic and identify potential weaknesses to mitigate and strengths to exploit to improve the environment.
Act. Do not allow personality differences to mature into personality clashes. Act quickly.
Plan. Develop a corrective plan to compensate for disruptive behaviour or personality shortcomings.
Reach for moral courage. Have the moral courage to address shortfalls early in a manner that prevents further conflict or dispute, that satisfies the complainant, thus demonstrating positive and appropriate action. This may enable further action to be taken (against any party) if the conflict continues (after formal resolution).
Be honest. If someone is acting unreasonably, explain to them why you believe that to be the case.
Gain knowledge. Understand the system. Acquire a good working knowledge of the discipline procedure so as not to feel intimidated by it. A good understanding will allow appropriate measures to be taken and prevent doubtful inaction.
Remain neutral. Do not allow personal feelings about an individual influence thought processes or resulting actions.
Seek advice. If a situation has developed into a nasty dispute, testing ideas with colleagues and professionals can be of great benefit.


Text removed at instruction of student

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