Pi Phi Chapter

Conflict Management Training for Middle Managers in Health Care 2

Nursing Research on the Green

2015 Abstract

Terresa Bubbers, DM © and Shirley Newberry, PhD, RN - Gundersen Health System      

  • Background: Conflict in health care is a serious issue resulting in The Joint Commission (TJC) requiring hospitals to develop a conflict management system. The significant cost of conflict is identified in the daily use of management time in dealing with conflict.  In addition, unresolved conflict leads to employee and patient safety issues, decreased morale, clinical errors, and toxic professional relationships. Managers identified spending up to 40% of their time on conflict. Researchers acknowledged managers lack the skills necessary to manage conflict effectively. The problem is that the health care industry has no long-term management program that affects the conflict management skills of middle managers.
  • Significance: The significance of the study to the nursing profession is that conflict management skills of health care managers impact the environment that nurses work in and many managers in health care are nurses.
  • Purpose/objective:  The purpose the study was to determine whether an intensive 3-month conflict management training program influenced the manager’s conflict management skills.    
  • Methods/project:  The researcher utilized focus groups and a questionnaire is this qualitative study. Sixty-four middle managers with five or more direct reports volunteered for the study. The managers were randomized into the intervention (conflict coaching) group or the control group. Both groups completed the Conflict Dynamic Profile (CDP-I) pre and post study, measuring constructive and destructive behavior skills and hot buttons. The conflict coaching group then participated in a 4-hour conflict engagement workshop and was randomized to one of five conflict coaches. The intervention group then participated in 12-weeks of individualized conflict coaching. The conflict coaches filled out an Interprofessional Collaborator Assessment Rubric (ICAR) measuring conflict management skills with each face-to-face session. A post-study questionnaire was completed by the intervention group and focus groups were conducted with the five conflict coaches                "The themes identified from the post-study questionnaire in the intervention group were, Knowing/learning about hot buttons, Perspective Taking, Changing Behaviors, Skill Development, Self-Awareness, Not Jumping to Conclusions, and Networking with Peers.
  • Results: The themes identified by the coaches in the focus group was a lack of support for managers, increased responsibility with very little authority, organizational dysfunction, and lack of skill development programming in conflict management.
  • Clinical implications: The managers and the coaches identified benefits of conflict coaching in creating self-awareness and development of conflict management skills.

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