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Jul 28

Skills To Manage Conflict In Your Club Program

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People tend to hold certain beliefs or myths about conflict. For example, …it is always negative or has to be a contest. This is incorrect as only the results are either positive or negative! Conflict is a seemingly ‘slowly simmering’ development. A given situation may start as an issue, evolve into a problem, and then can easily shift to conflict if matters cannot be resolved.

Conflict can be defined as a ‘disagreement’ but it is really more than that. It usually arises from several sources:

  • Organizational, emotional and/or psychological factors

Conflict can originate from:

  • Lack of cohesive program philosophy
  • Differences of perceived overall program aims
  • Differences of short-term or long-term goals or expectations
  • Lack of communication among various parties
  • Disagreement over selection of qualified coaches and staff
  • Disagreement over training methods of athletes
  • Perceived or differences over expected role of parents
  • Differences in leadership and/or management style
  • Lack of interaction between coaches, athletes, parents, and board of directors

Any sport scenario can easily become complex because a situation on hand may be perceived as a challenge to the existing club philosophy, opinions, beliefs, needs, interests, or concerns of one or several parties. The difficulty lies in managing conflict in the fact that one has to deal with various personality types and behaviors. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that one possesses or acquires essential ‘people skills’ to mage conflict successfully. Experts suggest assessing personal capabilities and competency in order to identify personal management style in order to be better prepared for discussions, and to maintain personal balance as well. Such assessment can be achieved by selecting from a variety of available management surveys.

During the communication process, one has to be cognizant of potential interfering dynamics, such as: a) communication skills and style between parties involved in the conflict; b) ability of parties to understand and interpret body language correctly; and c) ability to be an attentive listener. Thus, a series of operational steps and/or guidelines are recommended to reach creative solutions, attained through the several steps: Facilitation – Negotiation – Arbitration – Mediation – and Conciliation. The more solutions the better – in order to arrive at an agreement positive for all parties concerned. Additionally, building more positive relationships within the club, and setting up preventive strategies are critical to avoid future conflicts.

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