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Claire Belisle

Mr. Elgin

Management 331

7 April 2003

Conflict Management in Company A

“When interdependence is high – that is, when a person or group must rely on task contributions from one or more others to achieve its goals – conflicts often occur” (Organizational Behavior, 131).  As the preceding statement suggests, conflict within an organization is inherent as employees within an organization are typically interdependent in order to be effective when completing one’s tasks.  When this conflict occurs individuals and managers must “identify the causes of the conflict…examine the results of the conflict…[and] manage those conflicts based on the information gathered” (Belisle and Daniel). 

As one reviews the inner workings of Company A, one can deduce the conflict management processes used and evaluate an individual employee’s style compared to the company based on an assessment of that employee’s conflict management style.  From the information gathered in determining the company’s style, one may also determine the effectiveness of the processes used and make recommendations as to how the company’s style can be changed or improved.  Through this process, one will find that the hybrid style of conflict management utilized by Company A is quite effective and may continue to be utilized effectively, with minor modifications as circumstances prescribes.

As one begins to explore conflict, one begins to recognize that there are two types of conflict, substantive and emotional, and four levels of conflict, intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, and interorganizational (Organizational Behavior, 127-128).  While observing the inner workings of Company A, one sees that there are various types of conflict at various levels, with various styles of conflict management employed to quell the conflict. 

For example, the recent implementation of computer upgrades resulted in emotional conflict on the intrapersonal level within some employees due to the restrictions imposed on employees from new security restrictions.  Although the employees were aware that the security restrictions could reduce some technical problems occurring with the company computers, the freedom to install applications for oneself was lost and individuals would have to rely on the network administrators.  This reliance on others was in direct conflict with the independent personalities of some employees, promoting feelings of fear and resentment.  The style of conflict management used was more authoritative, although management in this case directly confronted each individual to hear each person’s concerns in order to “depersonalize the problem” as suggested by Fitzwilliam in “Keep Members from ‘Voting with their Feet’.”  As a result, the conflicts were resolved quietly and the fears of the individuals were allayed.

As another example, one may look to the emotional conflict on the interpersonal level of two individuals that once worked together in the accounting department as project accountants.  Often these positions rely on each other for support, although their jobs are not entirely interdependent.  As personal conflict arose between these two individuals regarding work ethics and “disagreements based on personal and social issues not related to work”, management decided to employ a different approach (Jehn).  The management of Company A used the indirect conflict management approach of “reduced interdependence” to help eliminate the conflict (Organizational Behavior, 131).  As a result, when an administrative assistant position became available that appealed to one of the employees, she was then placed in that position. 

As a final example, one may continue to review the workings of the accounting department.  At one point within the company’s history, sub-contractor pay requests were routed to the group administrative assistant for the particular job involved.  The administrative assistant would create a PO/Summary sheet to recap the pay request and discover discrepancies that might occur with pay applications and change orders.  Invariably, the administrative assistant would have to request documentation from the accounting department to verify specific numbers.  After the PO/Summary was created, verified and approved, the administrative assistant would forward the summary to accounting.  After some discussions with management, it was decided that to save time in processing the pay applications they should go directly to accounting where the information for the PO/Summaries was readily available.  This conflict provides one with an example of a substantive conflict on the intergroup level, while also providing an example of interorganizational conflict. There was conflict between the accounting department and the groups, and there was conflict between the company as a whole and the sub-contractors.  Once the new process was implemented, the intergroup conflict subsided and the sub-contractors had a single contact, which helped to appease much of that conflict.  In this example, employees and management worked together in a collaborative effort to resolve not only the intergroup conflict, but also the interorganizational conflict.

  As one reviews these examples and begins to look toward the employee that was evaluated for this report, it becomes apparent that Company A uses various styles of conflict management based on an evaluation of each conflict.  So how does this correspond to the employee evaluated?  Scores for the individual statements from The OB Skills Workbook (part of the e-text, Organizational Behavior) were as follows:

1)     3

2)     3

3)     3

4)     1

5)     3

6)     4

7)     4

8)     3

9)     3

10) 3

11) 3

12) 3

13) 3

14) 3

15) 3

 

When looking at the assessment results one finds that the employee in question scored a ten on Competing, a nine on Collaborating, a nine on Compromising, a seven on Avoiding, and a ten on Accommodating.  Because this employee’s scores were high in most areas, these results may indicate that this individual also utilizes an evaluation of the conflict to determine the best course of action.

 While reviewing all the data, one must also evaluate the effectiveness of Company A’s style of management conflict.  From the above examples, it appears that the conflict management styles utilized are effective, but the resolution provided within the second example does not actually confront the issues causing the conflict.  As such further conflict may arise, resulting from the true cause of the problem.

As one sees that the original conflict is not truly resolved, does it become necessary to change or modify Company A’s management style?  In the overall view of Company A, it would not be necessary to change the company style, although it might be more effective to modify it where personality conflicts are concerned.  In the second example, the employee who stayed in the accounting department has continued to have interpersonal conflicts with other employees.  It is becoming more and more apparent that the problems may be arising from internal issues within the individual rather than a combined personality conflict. 

According to Dr. Robert Porter, as cited by John F. Fitzwilliam, the second step in resolving conflict is to determine the cause of the conflict.  As such, the company’s management personnel may have to learn better ways of determining the actual cause of any conflict that may occur.  While employing its hybrid style of conflict management, Company A has effectively managed conflict and will continue to do so in the future as long as it continues to focus on the different types of conflict that can occur in an organization.

 

Works Cited

Belisle, Claire and Daniel, Karla.  “Conflict Resolution in Work Teams.”  Online posting.  4 February 2003.  7 April 2003 <news:a01-02N.BACC181A-GEN300.Assignments-write-only>

Fitzwilliam, John F.  “Keep Members from ‘Voting with Their Feet’.”  Fire Engineering 154.1 (2001):  10-11.  EBSCOhost.  University of Phoenix Online Collection. 7 April 2003.  Keywords:  Team Conflict Resolve

Jehn, Karen A.  “The Influence of Proportional and Perceptual Conflict Composition on Team Performance.”  International Journal of Conflict Management.  11.1 (200):  56-74.  EBSCOhost.  University of Phoenix Online Collection.  7 April 2003.  Keywords:  Team Conflict Performance

Thompson, Leigh, Eileen Aranda, and Stephen P. Robbins.  Tools for Teams.  Boston:  Pearson, 2000.

University of Phoenix, ed.  Organizational Behavior.  University of Phoenix custom edition e-text.  New York:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002.  MGT331 – Organizational Behavior.  Resource.  University of Phoenix.  7 April 2003  <https://mycampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.asp>

 

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