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Describe the HRM Competencies For Conflict and Theoretical Approach.

Discussion

In the case study provided, a scenario between two characters that end up in a conflict at their workplace is presented. It revolves around Hannah, who happens to have been granted a promotion and this evokes emotions of frustration from Jack, who feels that the promotion awarded to the former is not justifiable. Jack believes he has been treated unfairly in terms of the awarding of that promotion, since he had also applied for that position and much to his surprise, Hannah was promoted and not him. He cites nepotism and gender discrimination in all of these, as a few years back, a female CEO was appointed and Jack feels she favored Hannah since she was a woman, as herself.  So this comes to the basis of discussion on this case study which is conflicts and conflict resolution.

Conflict simply refers to the opposing ideas and actions arising from different entities, eventually resulting in an antagonistic state of affairs (Roche, Teague & Colvin, 2014). The tendency of one having his/her own ideas and opinions, which somehow enables each individual to think and act differently from the other is what forms the basis of most conflicts observed today. Our case study has provided two types of conflict so far and this will be elaborated subsequently. The main conflict that can be easily picked out from this particular case is the Interpersonal Conflict. An interpersonal conflict normally refers to a conflict between two individuals which in this case, is Jack and Hannah. Notably, there also exists components of interpersonal conflicts and much as it is relevant to the scenario presented, the sentimental component is clearly brought out here. As the name suggests, affective component refers to the negativity that is brought out between the warring parties with regards to emotional states (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006). For instance, the case highlights Jack’s frustrations on realizing that he has missed the promotion which was awarded to Hannah. He feels that he deserved the promotion since he had previously applied for it on numerous occasions, to no avail.

The affective component in this interpersonal conflict comes up to surface when Hannah is informed of the incessant comments that Jack has been pouring out, which of course, turn out to be spiteful and somewhat malicious. On the reports that Hannah is responsible for producing and distributing based on Jack’s performance requirements (KPIs), he terms them as a “waste of time and useless”, something which angers Hannah (Barsky, 2015). This annoyance further catapults to a negativity of stress on the side of Hannah which impacts her personal life, both at home and at the workplace. To find help, Hannah seeks the advice of his loving husband who advises her to speak out to Jack directly and sought out the issues between them.

The conflict theory that has been relied upon for this case is the Realist Theory. This is a theory which has its roots from classical political theory, sharing both biological and theological doctrines about an obvious weakness and individual inherent in human nature (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2015). It marks out the sources of conflict to the error in human nature which is perceived to be not only selfish, but also engaging in the pursuit of personalized self fulfillment defined as power. The realist theory has been criticized of increasing authority and the state to the position of ideology, hence has had enormous impact on conflict internationally.

Players in the conflict, their roles and possible perspective on the conflict

Though the case scenario presented does not deal with international companies, it is applicable here because Jack is acting out of his own self interests. He is frustrated because he believes the senior management to be unjust in promoting Hannah to a position he has always desired to attain (Rifkin, Cobb & Millen, n.d.). Jack is acting selfishly and individualistically. Additionally, the position that Hannah got can be termed as being a limited resource, and that is why it led to prejudice, discrimination, and conflict between the two.

Players in the conflict, their roles and possible perspective on the conflict

Looking at the scenario presented, it is quite clear that the major players in this type of conflict, regardless of which other party joined in, are Jack and Hannah. Here, one of the parties, Jack, is trying to frustrate the goal-attainment efforts of the other, Hannah. He is convinced that he has been treated unfairly as regards the promotion which was awarded to Hannah instead of him. He feels that that promotion was illegitimate and goes on to cite the recent appointment of a female CEO who he feels that she had a hand in the promotion of Hannah (Assail, n.d.). Jack goes ahead to bad mouth Hannah in the presence of his fellow team members, rebuking the ongoing KPI reports that Hannah makes terming them as waste of time and useless. He further points out that, because of the unreliability of those reports, he fails to perform aspects of his job effectively.

On the other hand, Hannah is infuriated over Jack’s comments which she feels as baseless since the reports tabled can only be as good as what the team, including Jack, provides as information to her.  Notably, however, not all disagreements are interpersonal conflicts and that only those disagreements which involve instances of discontentment and resentment would be termed as interpersonal conflicts.  On the other hand, the intrapersonal conflict that is occurring in the psychological dynamics of Hannah’s mind is solely one sided, that is, she is the sole character in all this, and any other party involved is only a catalyst to the thoughts that are traversing in her head following the confrontation that ensued between her and Jack.     

Now let’s go ahead and look at the underlying issues that surround the highlighted conflicts in this case study and allow me to focus on the interpersonal conflict which holds the bulk of issues that emerge therein.

Major issues in conflict and any special issues such as power imbalance, gender, race, disability, or high emotion

The scenario presents a number of issues in conflict, particularly gender and power imbalance. Employees who positively utilize their power are considered to be invaluable members of the organization. However, such power can turn problematic when it is not balanced. When an individual or group possesses too much or too little authority, conflict arises (Roche, Teague & Colvin, 2014). Unmonitored power combined with a total disregard for others is never a suitable combination. In this case, Jack felt that he did not have control over the situation and easily became unhappy and disengaged. As it has been observed in the past, most conflict situations are such that one of the parties has more authority than the other. It is possible for the high power party, which in this case is Jack, to refuse to enter into a negotiation, because they believe they do not need to. 

Major issues in conflict and any special issues such as power imbalance, gender, race, disability, or high emotion

At the societal level, patriarchy is usually characterized by unfairness and historic discrimination reproduced in ideologies and institutions (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006). Presumptions regarding male superiority tend to pervade people’s thought processes. A major issue in the case scenario that is observable is gender role stereotypes. It is quite apparent that Jack felt that he deserved the position, and not Hannah. To worsen the issue, Hannah was selected for the senior position shortly after yet another female CEO was elected. No wonder Jack felt infuriated since from his perspective, the organization was favoring females more than males.

One can argue that Jack had the patriarchy mentality where he did not understand why women in his organization should hold senior positions (Barsky, 2015). He felt that Hannah belonged to the lower positions and was to be a subordinate to Jack. Notably, he did not realize that today’s organizations have learned to promote women and give them similar rights and privileges enjoyed by their male counterparts.

It should be noted that there exist several conflict management strategies and one only need to choose and execute a strategy that best suits the situation at hand. Notice should be given that not all strategies work for all conflicts, each conflict might have its unique strategy to effectively manage it. Firstly, one of the most common strategies most people opt for is Avoidance. Avoiding revolves around not taking action and subsequently not paying attention regarding to the conflict at hand and ways to resolve it. However, a conflict manager should take keen interest in this method as it is reserved for such situations as to where there exists an advantage of sitting back and waiting to resolve the conflict in some other way. Avoidance has come to be seen as an appropriate conflict management strategy when the parties to a conflict are too busy with more important issues than the conflict at hand, and also where the relationship that sits to exist between the warring parties is unimportant (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2015).

Coercion or the Use of Force is another conflict management strategy that can be used to justify the case study. Forcing is whereby official authority is used to satisfy one’s concerns. For instance, seeing that she holds a higher position in the company, Hannah could use her powers to compel Jack to do whatever she deems fit so as to make the conflict subside. But seemingly, this approach would be a very bad idea keeping in mind the relationship factor. When a conflicting party wishes to use this method of conflict management, the relationship variable must be taken into account. The question of, how important it is to maintain a mutually close and supportive relationship with the other party should also be taken into consideration (Rifkin, Cobb & Millen, n.d.). And thus, it should be noted that coercion or the use of force should be used when time is of the essence and there exists much power to impose this strategy on the other party. Furthermore, one might have to repair the relationship after using this kind of strategy if at all the affected party develops the feeling or a sense of not being granted adequate consideration for their concerns in the conflict.

Strategy/strategies that would be most appropriate for the effective management of conflict

Another major strategy that would fall amongst the best appropriate conflict management strategies commonly practiced is Accommodation. This is whereby one conflicting party chooses to neglect their own concerns while allowing the other to gratify their concerns (Assail, n.d.). This has been seen as a quick way to resolve conflicts about fairly unimportant issues without damaging the existing relationship between the conflicting parties. As such, this could be an advisable measure that Hannah would have opted for to resolve the conflict with Jack.

Last but not least, another strategy would be Compromise. Compromising involves the resolving of conflicts through the identification of solutions that are to some extent, satisfactory yet are totally suitable to neither of the parties (Roche, Teague & Colvin, 2014). Conflict managers are advised to use this strategy when dealing with fairly important issues as it normally leads to quick results. However so, this type of conflict management strategy does not end up to completely offering satisfaction to either of the conflicting parties and furthermore, it doesn’t promote innovation.

A strategy that would be most appropriate for the case scenario presented would be the Collaborating method of conflict management strategy. As the name suggests, collaborating generally revolves around working together to achieve a set of goals and ambitions (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006). In collaboration, there should exists cooperation between the parties, who in this case are Jack and Hannah,  so as to understand their individual concerns and further expressing them in efforts to eventually finding a solution that would be satisfactory to both conflicting parties. Collaborating has been known to be an effective conflict management strategy that fosters creative problem solving and mutual respect and furthermore, it has helped create good rapport between the warring parties. However, it should be noted that collaboration is not a good strategy when dealing under the urgency of time and on trivial matters or conflicts (Barsky, 2015).

Conclusion

As regards the implementation of the above named conflict management strategies, keen interest should be taken when assigning which conflict would go best with what management strategies as earlier stated. The outlined strategies can best fit and be implemented to come out with satisfactory results that might end the conflict at hand, both with the case scenario and at whatever situation outside of this scope of work. Firstly, avoidance as a strategy can be implemented through advising the parties not to participate in the problem-solving process and also avoiding communication altogether about the conflict. This will eventually make the conflict go away.

With regards to accommodation strategy, stress should be put on cooperation and not insolence. One party should put their interest last and allow the other to further their cause. On the other hand, Compromise should be implemented through bargaining of the parties so as to reach a settlement which will go on to prevent intensification of the conflict. Lastly, as regards Collaborating, the employment of a mediator would be an appropriate measure that the conflicting parties might choose to do. A mediator is one who acts as a negotiator between two warring parties, and helps them reach a conclusion as to the matter in issue. 

References

Assail, H. (n.d.). “Constructive role of interorganizational conflict.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 14. Pp. 573 – 582.

Barsky, A.E. (2015). Conflict resolution for the helping professions: Negotiation, mediation, advocacy, facilitation, and restorative justice. 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cloke, K., & Goldsmith, J. (2015). Resolving conflicts at work: Eight strategies for everyone on the job. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Deutsch, M., Coleman, P.T., & Marcus, E.C. (2006). Handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rifkin, J., Cobb, S., & Millen, J. (n.d.). “Toward a new discourse for mediation: A critique of neutrality.” Mediation Quarterly, 9(1). Pp. 151 – 164.

Roche, W., Teague, P., & Colvin, A., eds. (2014). The Oxford handbook of conflict management in organizations. London: Oxford University Press. 

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