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Critically Reflect On Negotiation And Conflict Management

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Question:

Describe, analyse and critically reflect upon a conflict and/or negotiation in which you have recently been involved. The conflict and/or negotiation should preferably be one that occurred in your workplace or an organisational setting?
 
 

Answer:

Executive Summary

The majority of the employees have to deal with the conflict at some point or the other which sometimes can turn to be serious event in the organisation. The conflicts are seen mostly in the front-line roles /entry-level employees of the organisations. But sometimes the conflicts are also found at the senior level of the management (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). The conflicts happen when there is a clash between the personalities in the workplace. It so happened that the interference of people in others work and unable to progress due to the other’s action is often seen as a source of conflict in the organisation (Warring Egos, Toxic Individuals, Feeble Leadership, 2015). It must be kept in the mind that if the conflict is not resolved it can escalate the situation and can lead to dangerous workplace. It is in my opinion that the conflict with the employees of the organisation must be resolved to the earliest by bringing the two parties together and identifying the problems or the issues and discussing about the situation so that the problem does not go out of the hand, and the working condition of the organisation is not disturbed.

Introduction

What is workplace conflict?

It can be said that the conflicts in the workplace can be perceived as the actual clash between the groups and the individuals in the organisation. It can be said that the conflicts in the organisations in the workplace arise due to many reasons such as how people should work in te organisation and how they should behave in the organisation, about the roles they play and the amount of their remuneration (Jeong, 2008). The employees of the organisation expect some sort of behaviour and responsibility from the people. The extent to which these expectations are fulfilled or being clashed will result in whether there is a workplace conflict or not in the organisation.

The conflict in the organisation can be better understood by the following situation that I have encountered recently in a public library.

 

Caleb Billings is a librarian by profession at a Public Library. He has shown his interest for the post of Associate Director in the library that has recently come up.  He is very much confident of his experience and the qualifications and felt certain that the director of the library, Jack Williams, will appoint him without any hesitation (Conflictandpower.tripod.com, 2015).  Instead of Caleb, Jack hires newcomer Cassie Stiles.  He does not talk about his conclusion with Caleb, nor does he update Cassie of the state of affairs until she’s already on the job and has sensed Caleb’s resentment.  Cassie attempted to talk about the condition with Caleb but he does not cooperate and refused to be even friendlier or social to her.  For the next few years, Caleb does all sorts of things in his authority to make Cassie’s work complicated. This has affected not only the employees of the library, but also everyone who was functioning around them.   Jack’s effort to remain unbiased by avoiding the clash entirely doesn’t aid the condition and contributes to the deteriorating of the whole organization.  In the end, Cassie left her job to join another library and Caleb was by no means promoted.

Analysis

It needs to be seen here that the conflict has happened over a long period of time. The lack of communication among the people in the library was the source of the entire problem in the library. Caleb and jack had the chance to sort out the matter by discussing or taking the opinion of each other, but they did not do so. From the beginning it was clear r that Jack and Caleb had differences and Caleb needed to discuss the matter with Jack about the kind of person he was looking for the post of Associate Director (Conflictandpower.tripod.com, 2015). Moreover it was seen that jack hired a new comer for that post who was unaware of the fact that Caleb was a probable candidate for his post. Jack did not warn her of probable resentment and annoyance from Caleb. Cassie tries to discuss the situation with Caleb about the conflict in which they were at the moment but nothing paved to the situation. She has also tried to show empathy to Caleb but he was not moved by her actions. He was in so much anger that he not only did not want to discuss the situation, but also tried to make her career in the library a hell, though she was not responsible for the whole conflicting situation. The extent of the situation was that Caleb was after ruining the career of Cassie. He even punished and blamed her for taking his place.  He turned the condition into an interpersonal rivalry. Even jack tried to avoid the conflict to be on the safe side. Eventually no one was benefitted from the situation. Cassie left the job and even after that Caleb was not promoted to the position of Associate Director of the library. It was because of the situation that was created between Jack and Caleb. Better management of conflict at an initial stage might have made improvements in the condition of the library, the relationships among the employees within it, and it could possibly have enhanced Caleb’s future in the library (Workplace Conflict Resolution, 2015).

 

Critical and Reflective Discussion

The signs of conflict in an organisation

There are certain signs which will indicate that there are certain tensions of conflict that are going on in the organisation (Avgar, 2010). It might so happen that there is a heated situation in the workplace or a meeting between the employees and the managers may turn into a standoff. Before the actual conflict takes place, there are certain tense situations in the work place. The colleagues or the employees might feel unhappy or there might be certain issues that may be troubling them (Boulle, 2015). The symptoms are:

Motivation drops- the people will not engage with the work and take fewer tasks in hand.

Behaviour changes- the employees start making derogatory comments towards the other employees.

Productivity falls- the productivity of the employees as well as the organisation falls and there arises complaints from the management.

Sickness absence- people starts taking more sick leaves. It is due to the fact that the people may be suffering from stress or depression

The sources of conflict

Some of the issues that can give rise to conflict between groups and individuals at work include:

  • Poor management of the organisation.

  • Inadequate training of the employees.

  • Unfair treatment or discrimination

  • Unclear work roles in the organisation

  • Poor communications

  • Harassment and Bullying.

  • Poor work environment in the organisation

  • Lack of equal opportunities for the employees
 

In Context of the Situation of the Library Case

Departmentalization

Departmentalization is an aspect that may generate conflict (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000). Merging the departments of the organization as to save the costs might lead to troubles involving the relationships among the staffs, the hierarchy of the organizations and conflicting goals among them.  In one example, a library division was split into two distinct entities, in part, in order to manage the conflicts amongst the employees. The other aspects of departmentalization can be just as destructive. Struggle for limited or restricted resources such as equipment or space may lead to feelings of disbelieve or a disobedience of one’s field.

Miscommunication

In most of the workplace conflict it can be found that the most devastating cause of which can lead to the conflict. The communication barriers can often lead to misleading activities as well as wrong assessment of the persons. Miscommunication could also cause a distorted opinion of things, such as the works that the employees perform.  Managers who do not have the time to study what their staffs do may build up impractical goals. Misunderstanding and miscommunication can happen at all levels of the organisation (Goodwin & Midlane, 2002). Various departments doing the same project but given a different deadline can often lead to conflict. 

Like in the case of the library, there is a communication gap between the employees of the library. Here Jack does not communicate about the need of the post of the library to Caleb; whereas Caleb was sure that the post would be given to him. No one was clear about the needs and the thoughts of the others as there was a huge communication gap between the two which ultimately led to the hampering of the work of the library.

Interpersonal conflict

The interpersonal relationship among the employees is another source of conflict. In some cases, interpersonal conflicts are the reasons which if left untreated can develop into larger organizational and departmental conflicts.  It is the most general type of conflict which is found in the organisation and also in libraries and sometimes it can even result in violence (Jeong, 2008). Religious beliefs Gender issues, personality clashes and racism are all sources of interpersonal conflict.  Conflicts of interest are also a cause of workplace conflict, particularly when they are related to the job.  An employee who is contending for a higher-level post may feel vulnerable by co-workers having the need for the same job. The fear of losing the job or losing power of a specific job duty can cause a secretive or distrust behaviour.  An impression of caring may add fuel to a clash if employees sense that their colleagues are being professionally or personally attacked by other employees.

 

Management of the conflict in the workplace

The conflict in the organisation can be managed by developing certain strategies. The strategy thus developed must be in consultation with the managers as well as the employees. There are certain issues that need to be resolved before handling the conflicts in the organisation. The steps as to how the conflict should be managed needs to be sorted (Warring Egos, Toxic Individuals, Feeble Leadership, 2015). The procedures, the timings and the role to be played by the managers, needs to be briefed out at the beginning of process of the management of the conflict.

Have a quiet word

In many conflicts when the situation shifts from the formal to the informal then the situation can be handled easily. The informal stage often involves the employees to having a simple talk with each other in the organisation. Even the listening of the problems of the people in the organisations can solve the problem (Kupchan, 2010). Giving the people of the organisation some space and time to express their feelings can often remove the tense situations in the hand. Collaboration as it can be said is viewed as a method of problem solving or negotiation.

Investigate informally

The decisions in the organisations should not be taken with haste and on instincts. Time should be taken while any decision is taken. Relevant information should be taken by talking with the employees (Lebedun, 2015). For example the managers might ask the employee about his absent records. Even talking with the colleagues of the employees might be of help to the mangers as they can get an insight to the problem that the individual is facing.

Mediation

Mediation is a type of interference where a mediator is introduced to manage the discussions of the employees of the organization (Shallcross, Ramsay & Barker, 2013).  This can become successful as long as all members view the negotiator as neutral and as someone they can rely on.  However, it should be kept in the mind that the mediation should come just when it is evident that the parties had tried to sort the situation and failed to work together on their own. 

Compromise

Compromise allows the employees to feel a sense of impartiality and unity for a common goal, and for which everybody must have the same opinion about (Managing conflict at work, 2015).  Every party to the clash sacrifices a little for the general gain, producing a no loser or winner situation.  Equal amounts of confident and supportive behavior are seen in this form of conflict management (Saundry & Wibberley, 2015).

Conclusion and Recommendations

It is crucial that the managers must know how to run the organisations and the workforce in the organisation. Effective managing of the organisation can lead to a healthy working environment and minimisation of the conflict within the employees of the organisation (Nixon, 2005). It must also to be kept in the mind that some sort of conflict is necessary for the employees and the organisation, and it can be even beneficial for the organisation if it is handled properly and appropriately.  Established policies and open lines of communication are the measures which can be used to prevent the conflict the situation should be such in every organization, including the libraries (Managing conflict at work: A guide for line managers, 2015).  Preventative measures that are taken do not always remove the conflict, but they try establishing an environment that is favourable to the managing of the conflict.  Managers with the right amount of information, skills and knowledge can turn nearly any conflict into fruitful expansion for the company. The attitude of the supervisors towards the resolution of the conflict determines whether the conflict is favourable for the group or the organization. It can be said that, the way a person manage conflict within the organisation will direct the future of the organisation.

 

Reference List

Avgar, A. (2010). Negotiated capital: conflict, its resolution, and workplace social capital. International Journal of Conflict Management, 21(3), pp.236-259.

Boulle, L. (2015). Managing Workplace Conflict – Alternative Dispute Resolution in Australia. [online] Epublications.bond.edu.au. Available at: https://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1355&context=adr [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Conflictandpower.tripod.com, (2015). Conflict and Power Struggle in the Workplace. [online] Available at: https://conflictandpower.tripod.com/id1.html [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Deutsch, M. and Coleman, P. (2000). The handbook of conflict resolution. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

Goodwin, D. and Midlane, M. (2002). Negotiation in international conflict. London: F. Cass.

Jeong, H. (2008). Understanding conflict and conflict analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Kupchan, C. (2010). How enemies become friends. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Lebedun, J. (2015). Managing Workplace Conflict. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.trainingsolutions.com/pdf/wpconflict.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Managing conflict at work. (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/h/5/Managing_Conflict_at_Work_December_2009.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Managing conflict at work: A guide for line managers. (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/humrs/staffinfo/organisationaldevelopment/leadership/dashboard/Managing%20Conflict%20at%20Work%20-%20a%20guide%20for%20line%20managers.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Mathis, R. and Jackson, J. (2011). Human resource management. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-western.

Nixon, P. (2005). Negotiation. Singapore: Wiley.

Saundry, R. and Wibberley, G. (2015). Workplace dispute resolution and the management of individual conflict. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/q/a/0614-Workplace-Dispute-Resolution-Thematic-Review.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Shallcross, L., Ramsay, S. and Barker, M. (2013). Severe Workplace Conflict: The Experience of Mobbing. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(3), pp.191-213.

Warring Egos, Toxic Individuals, Feeble Leadership. (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.psychometrics.com/docs/conflictstudy_09.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

Workplace Conflict Resolution. (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/res/BMD/Free-Reports/WorkplaceConflictResolution.pdf [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015].

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