It is a very common thing in the workplace for people to not be satisfied, being it either the employer or the employee; this could be in regard to the needs, values and interests in general. It takes many forms in organizations and there is always an unavoidable clash between formal authority and the groups affected. The list of reasons are limitless but some are disputes over how revenue is divided, how work must be performed, how much time one is allocated to work, etc. A lot of disagreements among individuals, departments and between unions and managements result to jurisdictional matters.
Why Does Conflict Occur?
There are many reasons and some can be;
Expectations, Different Knowledge, Fear, Poor Communication, Attachment, Incompatible Values, Stress, Past Trauma, Scarce Resources, Different Paradigms, Misunderstanding, Perceived Oppression and many more reasons.
The types of conflicts are Substantive Conflicts (Technical Conflicts) and Emotional Conflicts (Interpersonal Conflicts) that can occur being it within two or more individuals, two or more groups or between individuals and
groups as well.
Conflicts between Individuals;
Interpersonal Conflicts take place due to several factors, most commonly they are due to personal dislikes or personality differences. Taking into consideration differences of opinion between individuals regarding task related issues, it can be labeled as technical conflict rather than interpersonal conflict. However technical and interpersonal conflicts can influence each other due to role-related stress.
Conflicts between Individuals and Groups;
These sorts of intra-group conflicts mainly arise due to an individual’s incapability to follow group rules and regulations. An example would be when groups have an idea of a ‘Fair day’s work’ and may pressurize an individual or punish him/her in regard to the rules of the groups productivity he/she could result with conflict towards the group and other individuals.
There are various levels of conflicts that are classified like this: Intrapersonal Conflicts that involve:
Pressures from incompatible goals
Avoidance –Avoidance Conflict
Approach – Avoidance Conflict
Occurs between two or more individuals who are against each other.
Occurs amongst members of different groups or teams.
Occurs due to competition and rivalry of firms operating in the same markets. Occurs between Organizations and Unions employing their members. Occurs
between government monitoring organizations and organizations regarding their scrutiny. Occurs between Organizations and Companies who supply raw materials.
This results in positive attributes to an individual, a company or groups.
The likely effects are:
Important problems are revealed so they can be discussed.
Causes an important discussion and evaluation of decisions.
Causes re-considerable decisions.
Increases the amount of information available for making decisions. Permits room for creativity
These result in negative attributes and are a downside to individuals, a company or groups.
The likely effects are:
It diverts energy into negative things.
Destroys the unity of groups.
Encourages interpersonal conflicts.
Overall it destroys the environment for employees.
Culture and Conflict:
There is usually a chance for conflict to be high when:
People from short-term cultures are working with people from long-term cultures. People from individualistic cultures work with people from collectivist cultures. People from high-power distance cultures work with people from low-power distance cultures.
Some people believe the best way to resolve conflict is to ignore it or to vote which only suppresses the true problem without confronting and resolving it. These are some of the ways to resolve conflict effectively;
Discuss or Debate, open communication, learn to compromise or reach an agreement,
However the way organizations manage conflicts as of today are quite different and yet effective. They use conflict resolution, this is used:
In a situation that the original reasons for a given destructive conflict are eradicated. Effective conflict resolution begins with an analysis of the stage where the conflict has reached and understanding the reason behind the conflict.
Stages Of Conflict:
Prioritize the circumstances for conflict.
Note down the circumstances for conflict.
Functional or emotional variations are identified.
Stress generates incentive to act.
Resolving the Conflict.
I will be using a conflict issue that was found at Radiant Montessori Nursery, Abu Dhabi during the year 2011. (http://www.rmn4me.com/) During the time since the nursery had been set up there were a lot of disputes over finding drivers who would be safe, efficient and loyal, The owners had various disputes regarding finding suitable drivers and from where they would find them. One owner suggested a driver who apparently was a relation of his friend. This conflict of interest led to many problems and disputes within the company and was eventually solved but even doing so it tarnished
the owner’s reputation and business.
The driver appeared to be a very trustworthy and loyal person and was always on his best behavior whenever the owners were around, later on they started receiving various speeding tickets on the Montessori van, it was found to be at 3-4a.m, no nursery is open at these times and it was later proven that the driver had been running his own routes along the city after office hours, when confronted he started absconding and was not being reasonable or trying to negotiate with the owners, he was in direct violation of his job permit and as well as his visa, Even then he was given chances because of the conflict of interest in him by the owner , therefore later on he was jailed by the police for misusing school property and the owner was charged a heavy fine.
The manner in which the conflict was resolved was not a good manner and if the owners had sought to other measures and planned everything properly it wouldn’t have reached this stage.
Judging by the case study shown, the stage of which the case is by the time it reaches negotiation stage it is less likely to be solved, the positions are most likely fixed as to who is what and the relationship is not redeemable after all the disciplinary action and demands from each other. Petunia might think that she is the successor over the issue but judging from the company’s point of view it was a loss, not just by losing Lerato, by the costs put in for the hearings, the time allocated for the case and the witnesses brought forward, the influence of productivity and morale and the further cost of getting a new employee. If only there was someone who was able to explain to lerato regarding the situation when she refused to take the job or before that it would have been a positive conflict. The arbitrator would have provided
Lerato with a confidential means and method by which Lerato and Petunia could have both discussed their interpersonal conflict and come out with a negotiation regarding the outcome.
These are the stages:
Petunia is a senior manager and Lerato a manager reporting indirectly to her which is a reason for Petunia to feel superior t Lerato. The initial case of conflict was when Lerato perceived that Petunia was the one responsible behind her moving to a different office. (Perceived Conflict) This caused her to rethink and analyze that it was because Petunia had accused her of insubordination. (Conflict Antecedents) Lerato starts lobbying against Petunia.(Felt Conflict)
Lerato subject to disciplinary measures and dismissed.(Manifest Conflict)
The believed reason behind the conflict from Lerato’s side was Power or value asymmetries. Procedures that went by:
It started out by perceived pressures then moved on to an approach-approach conflict and then to an approach-avoidance conflict the avoidance did not allow for negotiation or understanding which resulted in the firing of lerato.
The dysfunctionality of this conflict is seen by the way it was resolved,
My view of the case study is that the way it went along was not right and this is not the way to solve a conflict, In my opinion lerato should not have perceived and acted stubborn she should have asked for guidance or confronted Petunia directly and found out if it was her who had gotten her changed from department to department. Secondly even if this was the case she should have come to an understanding with Petunia regarding the situation and tried to resolve it in a more diplomatic way, not by being stubborn and accusing blindly as Petunia is her senior.
Thirdly, the department should have been involved about the case and should have taken immediate action and seen to it that both of them came to an understanding regarding what had happened and not let it escalate to such a high level. Lerato should have addressed the board and seen to it that a proper evaluation of her work and skills be made in regard to her transfer and whether or not it was truly needed. The way things were going impacted the company and the work environment of other employees as well. The way in which Petunia did it was right where she addressed the Human Resources Department and asked them to take action against lerato. All of this could have been prevented if there was proper conflict recognition and conflict resolving matters that could have been done.