Workplace Conflict: Identification, Resolution and Recommendations

Any conflict is provoked by an unknown third party. Although it is believed that the fight needs two to be involved, the situation becomes conflict only when a provocateur is present. It might be a real person or inanimate thing.

The modern today is a very complex and culturally diverse unit. Bringing individuals from different areas together in a single work environment can provoke a conflict due to the fact that some party’s expectations are not realized or met. Rather than hoping a conflict will go away, it is necessary to explore and identify the reasons for conflict and the ways to solve it successfully within a team environment, which the paper is aimed at.

Conflict Identification

The conflict under question took place less than two months ago in the Accounting Department of a commercial medical services company among a small number of employees. When it became evident that two people working in the Department are not coping with their duties, a decision was made to hire a new office manager to perform simple paper work. The girl who took this place could facilitate the work of the Department, but instead, she began to interfere with the local accountant. Many of the accountant’s job requirements remained unfulfilled. Meanwhile, all of the head’s requests were fulfilled quickly.

Thus, the subject of the conflict is the refusal of a particular employee to accomplish her direct job duties. The conflicting motives of each side can also be described. The accountant has a desire to have a reliable and responsible assistant, reluctant to spend his/her working hours on the job as an office manager, and to prove the propriety of her claims. As for the new office manager, she wants to maintain a positive attitude on the part of her boss and relax from routine work. In addition, she does not hide her antipathy to the current accountant. Third party in the face of the company’s head just wants to maintain good relations with both parties by establishing friendly relationships in the team.

At first, the accountant thought the girl simply lacks time to accomplish all of the assignments (although the accountant was angry, her requests were considered less important than those coming from the head). However, after the accountant found office manager playing solitaire several times, she realized with a pity that she was ignored. The accountant flared up and was rather emotional in stating her claims to the young girl. In response, the office manager only looked resentfully and said that she worked all day long to take a quick break only for a moment. Her main mistake was to whisper something like: “I don’t like you after all…” The company’s accountant, an elderly woman, pretended that she did not hear a word. In a couple of days, the lady came to her boss just to hear the girl really has plenty of duties to do. “Don’t disturb her,” the chief replied. When the head came up to the girl, she refused that she knew even how to launch PC games. As far as the boss felt sympathetic to the office manager, he trusted her words more. Finally, the accountant was tired to demand the same from the girl, and she did everything on her own.

Conflict Resolution

However, soon the boss admitted that they took an office manager on a part-time basis, and thus the payment was two times less. The girl only lacked motivation, and the other side lacked workforce. He promised to find another secretary. Soon, one more secretary was hired, and the situation improved.

Sources, Type and Level of Conflict

The conflict can be considered as a productive-economic one as it occurred within the industry. It is an acute, protracted conflict because the contradictions between the conflicting sides were deep enough. None of the parties was willing to compromise, so the conflict was accompanied by the manifestation of negative emotions in relation to each other. This conflict is interpersonal because its participants are separate individuals. The described conflict is destructive as it resulted in the additional costs for the organization (hiring a new employee). At the same time, the office manager did not change her attitude. Thus, it can be stated that depending on the type of conflict, the solution to it is selected. In this case, the conflict in production or economic sphere requires some extra costs for its resolution.

After analyzing this conflict, it became evident that it is the compromising level of conflict as far as it needs a solution that will keep everyone at least partly happy without damaging any of the participants. This particular conflict has passed three of the five existing stages: a problem to solve (no actions and attempts to accomplish job duties), disagreement (the girl’s denial of unsubstantiated allegation from the old lady), and contest (the opened dialogues and discussions with the involvement of the third party, their boss). Fortunately, the conflict did not reach two final levels as it was wisely solved by the company’s head.

Among all known sources of conflicts within a workplace, this conflict results from poor performance. However, it was caused by personality clashes between two individuals. A part of poor communication is also present.

Possible Outcomes

Taking into account all of the conflict’s details, its sources and level, the possible outcomes of the company head’s resolution mentioned above will be identified.

Any conflict outcome can be classified either as a zero-sum or non-zero-sum game. In this example, the conflict did not reach the level of an intractable situation. Therefore, the resolution when nobody benefits is excluded. After head’s decision, the accountant was the only person to win the game entirely. The boss had to allocate additional funds for newly hired second secretary, and the office manager has lost half of her salary being moved to a half working day schedule.