In any work environment, conflict is almost always inevitable due to differences in needs, goals, perceptions and responsibilities amongst the people working. Conflicts were traditionally seen as a consequence of poor interpersonal relationships, but they can have positive consequences. This is because they can stimulate discussions and help to usher in change and sometimes even improve nursing care.
As team leader on the night shift one of major responsibilities to all the staff in the situation is to resolve the conflict as amicably as possible so that delivery of nursing services can continue in a good working environment. The new graduate nurse needs to be able to practice within his new qualifications and to have an opportunity to delegate. The team leader therefore has a responsibility to the new graduate nurse to ensure that he learns all these.
The team leader also has a responsibility to the CNAs to ensure that that they understand the importance of delegation and mutual respect between them and the other nurses including the new graduate nurse. The team leader has a responsibility to all other nurses to maintain professional working relationships, to assist the staff members in developing conflict-management interventions and to ensure that there is an increase in the comfort level of nursing staff as they deal with conflict resolution.
Some of the obvious causes of conflict include a lack of mutual respect between the CNAs and the new graduate nurse. This problem has however spilled over to the other nurses as the CNAs are only doing the minimum work for the other registered nurses. Michael, the new graduate nurse was previously a CNA and thus it appears that it is difficult for the other CNAs to receive direction from him. Generally the main cause of conflict is a poor CNA/nurse relationship. There seems to be some stress caused by changes in the workplace.
The major change here is the new graduate nurse who was once a CNA and who is not being supported by the CNAs. To identify conflict in this scenario, there needs to be effective communication to help the nurses themselves identify the cause of conflict. Once identified, all the nurses can then be involved in the conflict resolution process as they are all affected by the conflict. One of the ways to do this could be by holding a staff meeting in which the changes or the situation that is ongoing can be discussed. This will provide an opportunity for everyone to air their opinions.
Gender may also be an issue in the conflict scenario as Michael is a male nurse. The CNA/nurse relationship has been evolving over time just as the physician nurse relationship has evolved, however the CNA/nurse relationship becomes more complicated when a male nurse is involved as it almost always shifts the power dimensions such that it seems that the male nurse is in authority. Several other obscure reasons may contribute to the conflict situation. These include difference in practice perspectives which are now accentuated by length of service and education level.
Additionally, the other nurses are also making the conflict situation worse by avoiding it rather than addressing it. In resolving this conflict, several strategies can be used. These include accommodation, collaboration, competition and compromise (Rahim and Magner, 1995). So far the nurses have been using avoidance where the situation or issue is approached by ignoring the existence of the problem. Obviously this has not worked as there has been no change in the situation and Michael is even looking at possibilities of a transfer.
Eventually this is likely to have a negative impact on nursing care. To deal with the situation therefore, I would use a collaborative approach. This approach provides a win-win situation most of the time. In this situation, the parties involved will cooperate assertively with one another so that they can identify the problems and then come to a satisfying solution (Tomey, 1996). The strength of this approach lies in the fact that it provides a win-win outcome and it also provides an opportunity for all the people involved to participate in conflict resolution interventions.
Thus with this there is an opportunity for greater mutual respect and eventually better teamwork when the conflict is resolved. The collaborative approach while effective has other the limitation of being very time consuming. Additionally it also requires a great level of commitment and cooperation from both parties. Using the collaborative approach will require a meeting with Michael, the CNAs. Here everyone will be invited to air their opinions. It will be necessary to point out the negative effect of the current conflict on nursing care.
The duties and responsibilities of Michael in his new role as a graduate nurse will be described as well as the role of the CNAs in providing quality nursing care. The importance of teamwork to the quality of nursing care will also be pointed out as well as the importance of respect for one another. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of respectful and effective communication that goes both ways. The nurses will be encouraged to come up with solutions to this problem as this will be easier to implement rather than having the team leader impose a solution to the conflict.
Additionally the rest of the nursing staff need to be involved so that they can also learn how to manage conflict rather than ignoring it. The other nurses have a responsibility to Michael to ensure that he gains the necessary experience as a new nursing graduate, thus it is their role to ensure that he is in a learner supportive working environment. Additionally, they also have a responsibility to the CNAs to ensure that the conflict situation does not escalate any further. Thus they need to Conclusion Conflict is a common occurrence in nursing professional life.
Depending on how it is handled it can be destructive or constructive. Thus it is important to understand the sources of conflict well so as to manage it effectively and hopefully bring about a better working environment. References Rahim MA, Magner N, 1995, Confirmatory factor analysis of the styles of handling interpersonal conflict: first-order factor model and its invariance across groups, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol 80, pp 122-132 Tomey AM, 1996, Guide to nursing management and leadership (5th edition). St. Louis, Mosby.