Conflicts Resolution in the Workplace: A Case StudyIntroductionConflicts are a common occurrence in the work place and are a major cause of underperformance and reduced productivity. Basically, a conflict refers to a situation of sharp disagreements or opposition of interests or ideas and can involve both managers and junior employees. When conflicts occur in the workplace, they can reduce employee morale, lead to high turnover rates and cause high profile confrontations which can in turn lead to serious and violent crimes such as physical assault. In his book, Mayer (2009) has noted that managers spend about two tenths of their time solving conflicts and reconciling parties with divergent views.
Obviously, this affects the productivity of managers as well as that of conflicting parties and can have adverse impacts on organizational performance. Considering that conflicts are a major challenge facing today’s managers and employees, this paper, which is based on case study, provides insights into the nature of conflicts in organizations, their cause and the various ways of resolving them. Identifying the Source and Nature of conflict at Personal InvestmentsWeinstein, (2005) has clearly highlighted that there are eight common causes of conflicts in the workplace.
These are: conflicting resources; conflicting styles; conflicting perceptions; conflicting goals; conflicting pressures; conflicting roles; conflicting personal values and unpredictable organizational policies. Three of these sources (conflicting styles, conflicting perceptions and conflicting roles) are clearly evident at Personal Investments. Conflicts involving working styles and approaches to management arise from the fact that employees work differently according to their personality and individual orientations in the workplace. As an example, some people like getting things done at the last minute while others like the structure of strict deadlines.
However, when working styles clash, conflicts are bound to occur (Mayer, 2009). In the case study, the issue of conflicting styles involves Tabitha on one hand and the rest of managers on the other hand. Tabitha is convinced that emerging technologies and issues presents opportunities for the company to diversify its investment portfolio. However, the other managers are too conservative and belief that the company should only work on obtaining its initial objectives (Kessler et al, 2008). The issue of conflicting perceptions arises because people have different views of what the organizations needs to do in order to achieve its objectives.
Where there are differences in the perceptions of events, conflicts can occur (Stewart et al, 2005). This is especially the case when one person knows something that other people do not know. In the case study, Tabitha knows that if the company expands its investments to include emerging technologies, it can dramatically increase its client base and revenues. Although she enjoys wide support from junior employees, her perceptions of the organization’s future are discordant to that of colleagues in the senior management who believe that taking such a move presents increased risks for the company.
In addition to causing conflicts, different perceptions are a major cause of office politics, which in turn causes poor organizational performance (Nydegger & Nydegger, 2010). When two or more parties pursue incompatible goals or when the values of employees differ significantly, conflicts can occur. Differences in goals and values can be seen clearly when new employees are hired or when promotions are made. New hires may possess different managerial and working values than existing workers.
Although differences in values are not necessarily a cause of conflicts in the workplace, failure to accept the differences can be a major cause of misunderstandings hence conflicts in the workplace (Stewart et al, 2005). When existing employees fail to accept new employees’ approaches, co-workers may start to insult each other’s experiences and characters as can be evidenced by Susan’s frustration with Tabitha. Insults can cause sabotage and deliberate undermining of genuine efforts to drive an organization into new levels of productivity and achievement.