Conflict Resolution Skills For New Staff Accountants And Auditors

Dean DiGregorio


This case is designed to help accounting students learn and apply conflict resolution skills that they will need to be successful in the workplace. Accounting students need to develop strong technical and people skills in order to become successful accountants or auditors. This is true whether they enter public accounting, industry or government. Technical skills enable a professional to do the work required in an efficient, timely and accurate manner. They are learned in school, on the job, and through specialized training. People skills enable a professional to work successfully with those inside and outside of the organization. Unlike technical skills, a professional might never receive any formal training regarding people skills. This is unfortunate as people that do not get along with others and resolve conflicts in a productive manner are highly unlikely to attain long-term success. People skills include being able to: establish rapport and get along with others; comfortably work with people with diverse backgrounds and personality types; successfully resolve interpersonal conflicts; influence, persuade and negotiate with others; and to effectively train, supervise, and lead others. Most of the skills are interrelated and a weakness in any of the above areas can either create conflict, or hinder a person’s ability to resolve it. When two or more people interact, the possibility of conflict exists. Conflict in the workplace often arises from diversity issues, from people that seem to be in constant conflict with those around them, and when people bring their personal problems to work. Conflict is also likely when company policies are perceived as unfair or arbitrary, when people have control issues and micro-manage others, when reviewers or reviewees act unprofessional, and when there is intense competition for personal rewards or organizational resources. Successful conflict resolution can be complicated. Some situations can not be changed and should either be avoided in the first place, ignored (coped with), or escaped from. Other situations can be resolved through persuasion, influence, and negotiation. Further, the methods used to resolve conflicts may differ based on whether the professional is dealing with a client, a peer, or someone with more or less power than they have.

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