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Conflict in the Workplace

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Conflict is an inevitable phenomenon in the workplace, where different types of people interact on a daily basis.  According to Mamoria, Gankar and Pareek (2004, p.528), “When people with different backgrounds, temperaments, points of views, values, needs, personalities and attitudes interact, it is likely that some type of conflict may arise.”

Conflict hinders the smooth flow of operations which reduces productivity, sales, and profits. If an organization cannot make a profit, it causes financial instability, which can lead to bankruptcy and possible closure of the business. This, in turn, results in job losses and loss of income, which impacts employees and their families.

The saying, “a stitch in time saves nine” can be applied to conflict; it means that conflict can be handled effectively if it is managed and resolved longer immediately, and not put off until a later time.  Mamoria, Gankar and Pareek (2004, p.529) state that “Conflict demands attention because sources of tension left unattended to smolder or fester until explosions erupt.”

Organizational Conflict —  Cause, Effect and Resolution

Organizational conflict is the discord or disagreement that arises when the goals, interests, or values of different individuals or groups within an organization are incompatible and these individuals or groups block or thwart one another’s attempts to achieve organizational objectives. (R. Jones et al., 2010)

When I was recruited for the position of manager at a new enterprise, I tried to introduce new ideas and working procedures, and propose new lines of services. The existing managers of the organization wanted to maintain the status quo.  It was difficult to convince these managers to change, as they felt the enterprise would fail if it added new services.

This created a conflict. Since the enterprise was financially unstable, I felt the introduction of a new line of services could help to improve its financial position.  Accordingly, I tried to negotiate with the existing managers at every meeting to consider my new ideas.  Torrington, Hall and Taylor (2002, p.632) offer that, “Negotiation may be the only way to cope with a conflict situation.” After a series of discussions and dialogue, the managers were eventually swayed to consider and accept my ideas.  This outcome conforms with findings by Torrington, Hall and Taylor (2002, p.631), “The goals that management sets can be modified as a result of conflict with others.”

Interpersonal Conflict — Cause, Effect and Resolution

Interpersonal conflict is the discord between individual members of an organization that occurs because of different goals or values. (R. Jones et al., 2010)   One of the values of my enterprise is working as a team.  A conflict arose in one department when a supervisor, who is new to the enterprise, wanted to change existing working procedures and a subordinate wanted to maintain the existing procedures. The subordinate brought the conflict to the attention of my office, and I discussed the issue with both parties individually.

The root cause of the conflict was the introduction of new working procedures, which I discussed with the subordinate. We analyzed the strengths and short comings of both new and existing procedures, and we discovered that the strengths of the new outweighed the existing ones.  In conflict resolution, both parties see the similarities and differences existing between them, and focus on how the differences can be overcome. (De Cenzo and Robbins, 1999, p.239) 


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