CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ONDO STATE

ABSTRACT

The study examined the conflict management strategies and employee performance in selected secondary schools in ondo state.

The research design adopted for this study is a quantitative survey research design.  The study will involve the survey design following the formulation of questionnaires (survey instrument) through which essential information and insight about the association and relationships that exist between the dependent variable and the independent variables were measured and obtained

The researcher uses the employees of Impact High secondary school Akure, Ondo State. The simple random sampling technique is employed to select the total of 42 employees which where purposvely selected across the Impact High secondary school, Akure, Ondo State.

The result showed that; Accommodating conflict management strategy has positive and significant impact on commitment of Academic staffs in selected secondary school in Ondo State (β=0.397; p<0.05); Collaborating conflict management strategy has positive and significant impact on engagement of Academic Staff in selected secondary school in Ondo State (β=0.278; p<0.05); Avoidance conflict management strategy has positive and significant impact on work attitude of Academic Staff in selected secondary school in Ondo State (β=0.248; p<0.05); Collective bargaining strategy has positive and significant impact on creativity of Academic Staff in selected secondary school in Ondo State (β=0.438; p<0.05).

The study concludes that conflict management strategies has a significant impact on employee performance in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.

The study concluded that; Competition for supremacy should not be the priority of employees but rather working together in peace and unity to achieve a common goal for the organization; Training workshops should be organized for employees on conflict resolution procedures; Organizations should make adequate room for decision-making, for proper running and optimum productivity. Staff welfare should also be taken into consideration by management; Participatory rather than autocratic style of management should be encouraged by management of organizations.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the study

Organization all over the world exists to achieve a specific goal and objective and for these goals and objectives to be achieved the human resources at the disposal of the organization must be properly harnessed to effectively and efficiently utilize other organizations resources in driving the organization forward (George & Jones, 2013). The human resources (employees) of the organization are the foundation on which every activity of the organization rests. It is the employees that put into use all the resources and all factors of production into the use for the achievement of the organization goals and objective (Ariyon & Ikemefuna 2011, Egbuta 2016)                     However, due the fact that no two humans are the same as they vary in lifestyle, personality, beliefs, value systems and religion, the congregation of employees in an organization may see conflict arise regularly (Larey, 2014). This has led to the issue of conflict management become a hotly discussed topic among human resource managers all around the globe.

      Furthermore, Nigeria is particularly volatile to conflict at workplaces in various organizations due the diverse nature of its population and its acceptance of multiculturalism (Owolabi, 2015). Therefore, a clash of cultural values, beliefs and lifestyle and this has led to conflict among employees which can escalate if not properly managed. Therefore, there is a need for conflict management in all industries, sectors and works of life. The need for conflict management is even more pressing in the academic sector where the “leaders of tomorrow” are inculcated with knowledge as it is important that they learn in a safe and serene environment free from distraction or disturbance (Ojiafor, 2013). Therefore, it is vital that conflicts are reduced to the barest minimum in secondary schools

An organization is a structured social system consisting of groups and individuals working together to meet pre-agreed on objectives (Rafaeli, 2015). Organizations are made up of different people with different family background, attitude, beliefs, abilities and personality, which is a set recipe for conflicts arising in any organization. This implies there is no organization that can effectively carry out its day to day activities without encountering some form of conflict. Thus, conflict is the most common, general and widespread phenomenon that goes alongside group activity and interaction. According to Uya (2014), conflict cannot be completely dissociated from human beings and their endeavors, be it group or organization. This means that conflict is a “necessary evil” that one cannot do without. 

Conflict refers to a situation in which there are incompatible goals, cognition or emotion within or between individuals or groups that led to opposition (Kelly, 2010). According to Wall & Callister, (2015) conflict refers to the process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively influenced by another party. Conflict in the workplace is an expression of hostility, antagonism and misunderstanding between the staff members (Iravo, 2011). In institutions, conflict occurs between various individuals because of their frequent interaction with each other. This means conflict in the work place can occur between employees or between the management and an employee or the employees. For instance, when employees go on strike it represents an escalated conflict between the management of the institution and the employees. Conflicts that occur in work places must be properly handled and resolved. The failure to do this can result in the conflict being blown out of proportion which can lead to discord among employees (Okafor, 2015). 

      In Nigeria, conflict presently constitutes a menacing factor in academic life. Schools frequently appear to be at the center of tension and on occasions, they are probably a manifestation of problems in the general policy. This is witnessed by the frequent ASUU strikes (Academic Staff Union of Universities) that occur in tertiary institutions in the country. According to Egberigbe (2009) a major cause of this repeated conflict is the failure of the Nigerian Government to meet the demands of Nigerian Lecturers and provide them with the necessary motivation to be able to carry out their duties effectively.  The first ever ASUU strike was in 1988 after the body ASUU was newly formed in 1978 (Lateef, 2014). The strike was done in a bid to obtain fair wages and university autonomy (Nasir, 2013). The strike was met with a tough response from the General Babangida’s Military regime as the body was suspended and stripped of its properties (Babasola, 2002). The body was later restored in 1990 after negotiations with the military government (Babasola, 2002). However, since then the ASUU body has gone on no less than eighteen strikes due to various demands ranging from improvement in salary, better working conditions and improvement of University Facilities (Fashola, 2015). This has adversely affected the student’s academic performance and the level of quality education in Nigeria, as no Nigerian University is currently ranked among the top one thousand universities in the world (Johnson, 2013).

    Furthermore, conflicts in the Nigerian Educational institutions do not just occur in universities they also occur in other tertiary institutions like polytechnics and colleges of education. For instance, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, in January 2017 embarked on a nationwide seven-day strike over shortfall in payment of salaries and allowances among other demands. They have also threatened recently to embark on another nationwide strike until their salary demands are met (Hassan, 2015). Furthermore, the Colleges of Education in Nigeria also regularly go on strike in protest of poor infrastructure and poor salaries of lecturers and facilitators in the schools as occasioned by their strike in 2014 (chimara, 2016).

Furthermore, conflicts also take place in secondary schools between teachers and the government in form of NUT (Nigerian Union of Teachers) strikes (Akinsanya, 2016). Since the forming of the Union in 1931 under the leadership of the late Oludotun Ransome Kuti, they have been at the forefront of advocating for teacher’s rights. This many times has led to clashes with the government with it culminating in strikes. These strikes have affected the growth of the educational industry and students’ academic performance. According to West African Examination Council (2016) Nigeria’s success rate in their SSCE exams has been dropping steadily over the past four years with 2017s success rates less than 30% (Johnson, 2017).  Most of the times this strikes are caused by the variation in the demand of teachers and lecturers in contrast to what the government is willing to meet. Furthermore, conflict in secondary schools doesn’t stop there as it occurs between teachers and the principals, between teachers themselves or between teachers and the students. This has forced many teachers who are in managerial positions in schools to adopt various techniques of conflict management (Nwagbara, 2016).

According to Flummery (2015) the style of conflict management adopted by the manager depends on the manager’s personality.  Collaborating, this review Nwagbara (2016) the manager in a secondary school may choose to adopt the accommodating style of conflict management. The accommodating style of conflict management involves selflessness and low assertiveness (Spears, 2014). According to Laden (2013) it majorly adopted by easy going personalities who rather accept the blame than allow the conflict to linger. According to Nwagbara (2015) adopting this style of conflict management maybe best in order to foster unity among staffs and harmony. Nwagbara (2015) further stated that a manager in a secondary school may choose to adopt the collaborative style of conflict management.

    

     Mason (2014) opined that the collaborative style of management tries to make sure all the aggrieved parties are satisfied. It involves working with the aggrieved parties to find a solution for both parties (Wheater, 2015). Onasanya (2016) noted that this style may be adopted by a manager who runs his administration like a politician. To him this style of conflict management can be easily achieved when a leader is a popular figure among his/her team members. According Wheater (2015) is of the opinion that a transformational leader is more likely to adopt this kind of approach. Furthermore, the collaborative style of conflict management is the style that has been adopted under the democratic government in Nigeria when managing conflicts between them and various educational labour unions. Also, according to Nwagbara (2015) notes that the manager can adopt the avoidance strategy of conflict management. This strategy of conflict management involves the ignoring of the existence of the conflict until the conflict ends (Wheater, 2015). According to Smith (2011) managers that tend adopt this strategy are managers with low self esteem or managers who do not hold much power over the conflicting parties.

In conclusion to this discussion on conflict management, Nwagbara (2015) also opined that the manager of a secondary school may choose to adopt the competitive style of conflict management. According to Shepherd (2014) sees this style of conflict management as a confrontational strategy where the manager seeks to address the conflict immediately in an aggressive manner. According to Wheater (2015) managers that are likely to adopt this strategy are choleric in nature and adopt an almost dictator like and authoritarian style of leadership. According to Dogtigney (2017) this style is adopted majorly by heads of the schools in crisis situations where hard decisions like a lay-off or a suspension for the parties involved have to be taken. A most likely scenario where this would be needed in a secondary school is when there are physical confrontations among the staffs of the school.

Despite the various strategies adopted to manage conflicts in Nigerian secondary schools it still remains a major problem that all stakeholders in the educational need to take as a great concern. It affects the community, the school administration and the government directly or indirectly. If allowed to continue, it will ruin educational institutions and education itself in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

The biggest problem in an organization is catching conflict young and addressing it before it escalates.  According to Johnson (2007) it is obvious that most schools have devoted a greater part of academic time and effort to settle conflict related issues be it between employees or manager-subordinate conflict. This scenario has continued unabated, hence poses a negative challenge to the growth of these schools. Although, scholars have reasoned that conflict cannot be completely ruled out in any organization (Uchede, Anijaobi & Odigove, 2013) however when they occur frequently in the academic industry it could have an adverse effect on the schools especially in terms of parental trust, loss of students, poor brand image of the school, unemployment of school staffs and ultimately the reduction in profits. Just like any other state in Nigeria, Ondo State private secondary schools are still confronted with various forms of conflict both interpersonal and task conflicts among employees and management staffs. However, the dilemma remains the style of conflict management to adopt that will turn conflicts into a positive solution that increases the performance of staffs and students

According to Wheater (2015) the appropriate style of conflict management to use is the accommodating style of conflict management. He noted that this style was needed to improve team spirit among employees and would eventually improve employee commitment. However, Douglas (2013) disagreed by stating that the accommodating style would only make the aggressors grow confident and would not hesitate to cause another conflict when they feel it is needed.

Furthermore, Nwagbara (2015) suggested the collaborative style of conflict management would be suitable for adoption in secondary schools. He further suggested that it improve employee engagement as it makes employees feel relevant and an important part of the organization. However, Sulaimon (2009) suggested that collaborative style of conflict management cannot be achieved at all times due to the fact that it is difficult to come up with a resolution that pleases all aggrieved parties at all times.

Makinde (2014) opined that the avoidance strategy is an effective conflict management strategy in secondary schools. However, Wheater (2015) contradicted by pointing out that adopting the avoidance strategy might make the manager seem weak and encourage the staffs to put in a poor work attitude.  

Smith (2012) further suggested that the competitive conflict management strategy was most suitable for adoption in organizations such as secondary schools. He noted that it allows for competition among employees and which will improve creativity among the employees.

                            

Therefore, it is very important to examine which of the conflict management strategies would be effective in channeling disagreement to increase staff performance given the fact that conflict is inevitable.

Therefore, it is against this backdrop that this study aims to examine the impact of various conflict management strategies on the performance of secondary school staffs in Ondo state.

 

 

1.3 Objectives of the Study 

The main objective of this study is to examine the interaction of the contribution of different conflict management strategies on employee performance in selected secondary schools in Ondo State. Specifically, the objectives will be to 

  1. examine the impact of accommodating conflict management strategy on the commitment of Academic staffs in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.
  2. ascertain the influence of collaborating conflict management strategy on the engagement of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.
  3. examine the relationship between the avoidance conflict management strategy and the work attitude of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.
  4. evaluate the impact of collective bargaining on the creativity of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.

1.4 Research Questions:

 The research will attempt to answer the following questions 

  1. What is the impact of accommodating conflict management strategy on the commitment of Academic staffs in selected secondary schools in Ondo State?
  2. What is the influence of collaborating conflict management strategy on the engagement of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State?
  3. What is the significant relationship between the avoidance conflict management strategy and the work attitude of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State?
  4. What is the impact of collective bargaining on the creativity of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State?

1.5 Research Hypotheses 

The research aims to test the following hypothesis during the course of this research

H01: There is no significant impact of accommodating conflict management strategy on the commitment of Academic staffs in selected secondary schools in Ondo State

 H02: There is no significant influence of collaborating conflict management strategy on the engagement of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.

H03: There is no significant relationship between the avoidance conflict management strategy and the work attitude of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.

H04: There is no significant impact of collective bargaining on the creativity of Academic Staff in selected secondary schools in Ondo State.

1.6 Operationalization of Variables

The variables adopted by this study are: conflict management strategies and Academic Staff performance. The study will seek to investigate the influence of conflict management strategies; the independent variable, on the dependent variable; employee performance.

The variables for this research are consequently operationalized as follows: 

Y = f(X)

Y = employee performance

X = Conflict management Strategies

where Y = Dependent variable

            X = Independent variable

y = f (x1, x2, x3, x4…xn)

x1= Accommodating Conflict management strategy

x2= Collaborating Conflict management strategy

x3= Avoidance Conflict management strategy

x4 = Competitive Conflict management strategy

 

y = (y1, y2, y3, y4)

y1= Employee Commitment

y2 = Employee Engagement

y3 = Employee Work attitude

y4 = Employee Creativity

 

 

 

y= f(x1) __________________ (1)

y = f(x2) __________________ (2)

y = f(x3) __________________ (3)

 y = f(x4) __________________ (4)

 

            The study will focus on equation (4) above.

            Based on regression, we have

y1 = α0 + β1x1 + μ…. (1)

y2 = α0 + β2x2 + μ…. (2)

y3 = α0 + β3x3 + μ…. (3)

y4 = α0 + β4x4 + μ…. (3)

Where, α is the constant of the equation, β is the coefficient of X the independent variable where μ is the error or stochastic term in the equation.

 

 

 

 

 

1.7 Scope of the Study:

The study will focus on the relationship between conflict management strategies and employee performance in selected private schools in ondo state. All schools in the country cannot be covered in this research neither would all the secondary schools in Ondo state be covered. Therefore, this study would restrict itself to some selected private secondary schools in Ondo state Nigeria. The target population are the indigenes residing to impact high secondary school akure, ondo state is 150 employees. The study will adopt the simple random sampling technique while data will be analysed using the regression analysis and spearman rank correlation analysis.

 

1.8 Significance of the Study

The study will be significant to the management of private secondary schools in Ondo state of as it will show them the best strategy in handling conflicts.

It will also be significant to the Academic industry as it will show them the causes of conflict in the Academic industry and how it can be avoided and resolved.

The study will also be of use to the government as they can also apply the findings to public sector employees.

Finally, the study will be significant to society as it will teach them how to live amicably with their fellow beings and the best way of resolving dispute that arise amongst them.

 

 

 

 

 

1.9 Operational Definition of Terms:

Organizational Commitment: This is the bond an employee experience with their organization. Employees who are committed to their organization feel that they fit in, and feel they understand the goals of the organization.

 Accommodation: it involves giving into the others wishes or smoothing the choppy waves of a conflict. This is a style where a manager prefers other’s side as compared to his own side. Accommodation sacrifices one’s own goals for the sake of the other person. When a party is willing to give up just about everything in order to preserve the relationship with the other party.

Collaboration: It occurs when parties cooperatively work together until a mutually agreeable solution is found. It is also called win/win strategy. In using this style of conflict, both parties are trying find a solution which truly satisfies the needs of each

Avoidance: this is a conflict style where a manager is neither cooperative for other’s goal nor assertive for his own preferred outcome. Using this style of conflict, it is clear to both parties that the consequences of delay in making a decision will be minimal

Competition: this is a conflict style where managers pursue his own goal for his preferred outcome with less or no concern for the other party. Using this style of conflict, you have no concern about the other side feeling’s or how they will live with the decisions

Engagement: This is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization

Creativity: it is the act of bringing something new into being which requires passion and commitment

Attitude: it refers to our opinion, beliefs, and feelings about aspects of our environment

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