The presented case describes the challenges and opportunities Beijing EAPs Consulting Inc. (BEC) has been facing since 2006. This organisation has grown rapidly due to the changes experienced in China and its ability to meet the needs of many employees across the country. Although it has been recording positive growth rates and profits, BEC has identified emerging issues that are capable of affecting performance. This paper uses the company’s situation to discuss the unique causes of the existing conflict between project managers and other workers. Using organisational behaviour (OB) theory, the discussion proposes several recommendations that can minimise similar obstacles in the future.
Conflicts and Potential Causes
BEC is a reputable Chinese company that provides employee assistance programs (EAPs). Mr Zheng, the firm’s founder, and CEO, focused on the emerging issues that were affecting the performance of workers in different organisations across this country (Li, 2009). Such an observation encouraged him to establish a new company that would empower employees in other firms to manage stress and record increased job satisfaction levels. The success of BEC resulted in a new organisational structure that would deliver positive results and meet all clients’ needs.
Despite the recorded gains, BEC has encountered specific challenges that can affect performance. The outstanding one is the current conflict between project managers and employees. This issue has affected the level of communication and the firm’s ability to meet the changing needs of the targeted customers. The first potential source of this disagreement is the nature of the established hierarchy. According to the case study, project managers, functional managers and departmental managers are in the same leadership level (Li, 2009). This kind of approach means that they have a similar influence over the targeted employees who are expected to pursue or complete various projects. This means that such workers remain confused after receiving simultaneous instructions from such leaders. This issue has therefore resulted in disharmony.
The second potential source of the existing conflict is the manner in which workers pursue or complete their projects. The studied case has revealed that employees are empowered to consider specific projects and make their personal decisions regarding urgency and results. This means that such workers have some bargaining power over their managers (Li, 2009). They can decide to ignore some of the instructions received from their seniors or superiors, thereby affecting the nature of the recorded results.
The presented scenario has gone further to indicate that most of the employees possess adequate competencies that make it possible for them to meet the needs of the current clients. Unfortunately, the existing organisational structure does not identify who is responsible for every project. This kind of arrangement becomes the third possible cause of conflict at BEC (Li, 2009). The employees are, therefore, bombarded with instructions and guidelines from different sources, thereby being unable to pursue their roles diligently.
The fourth source of disagreement is the manner in which different functional groups are designed and empowered to pursue their goals. For instance, the introduced system made it possible for project managers to assign duties to workers in other departmental leaders and their employees (Beleiu, Crisan and Nistor, 2015). Since workers could request their supervisors to make specific adjustments, it became apparent that the chances of disagreements remained quite high. This was also caused by the fact that the issue of specialisation was ignored.
Finally, it is evident that the majority of the employees were overburdened. For instance, the case indicates that some individuals were working on 10 or more tasks at a time. Additionally, most of such duties had strict or short deadlines. Since the employees were required to plan their activities and schedules, it became apparent that the managers would have minimal influence (Li 2009). Sometimes the individuals would be forced to complete additional tasks despite having increased workloads.
Recommendations to Prevent Conflicts
Organisational behaviour (OB) is a powerful model that business leaders consider transforming the actions, ideas and performances of individuals in specific groups. Different concepts have emerged to empower managers to make critical decisions that have the potential to minimise conflicts and eventually improve operational efficiency. With the use of such ideas, companies can be able to promote innovation, transform leadership, maximum job satisfaction and deliver positive results within the shortest time possible (Wong, 2018). This knowledge means that BEC can embrace and implement the concepts of OB to overcome the existing conflicts and prevent them in future.
The first suggestion is to consider the importance of an effective organisational structure. According to OB theory, a group or firm whose employees are led and empowered efficiently will be willing to complete their roles and deliver positive results. Such a model means that BEC will have defined roles and obligations for project managers, departmental leaders, and functional heads. This new model will streamline the way decisions regarding projects are made (Thiry, 2015). Consequently, all workers will be aware of the right source of guidance or instruction and act accordingly. Such individuals will also be willing to collaborate and receive timely resources from their supervisors.
The second approach or recommendation revolves around the power of project management. Those in charge of different programs should be aware of the intended goals, potential challenges and risks that might emerge. Mr Zheng can consider this aspect to ensure that all employees are grouped following their competencies and the nature of the targeted project. Such an approach means that project managers are capable of addressing and supporting every aspect of the targeted activity (Portny, 2017). They should also have a say over all departmental leaders in an attempt to maximise performance and deliver positive results. Additionally, there is a need for supervisors to be aware of their unique responsibilities that are clearly defined. Such roles should not affect the goals of project managers.
The third recommendation is for this company to transform the nature of the existing organisational culture. It is agreeable that some individuals in this firm do not support the needs of their colleagues or do not act appropriately. For example, the case has revealed that there is a problem with organisational communication. Mr Yang uses a loud voice and unpleasant tone when interacting with Ms Song. Such kind of misbehaviour has created disharmony whereby Song is unable to assign the intended training tasks to him (Oppong, Chan and AyirebiDansoh, 2017). This means that she is always unhappy with this kind of malpractice. This fact is a clear indication that other leaders and their followers at BEC might be experiencing similar obstacles. A new culture will encourage individuals at this firm to relate positively, overcome tension, support each other and focus on the anticipated goals. They will be willing to solve their problems, make decisions much faster and eventually deliver positive results.
Finally, Mr Zheng can combine the concepts of project management with those of organisational leadership to overcome the current conflicts. As BEC’s CEO, Zheng should begin by introducing a superior model whereby employees are aware of their mandates and projects that should be completed on time (Al-Hajj and MarioZraunig, 2018). Several teams will be established and ensure that new activities are assigned accordingly. Departmental and functional managers will be required to offer meaningful insights to every group or team whenever necessary (Huijgens, Van Deursen and Van Solingen, 2017). Such professionals should also be ready to address most of the issues project leaders present. This strategy will minimise conflicts and ensure that workers do not have to make personal decisions that can result in delays or exhaustion. Using the same initiative, the leaders at the company will present superior strategies for mentoring workers, transforming communication, providing incentives and improving decision-making processes. This suggestion is necessary since motivated and empowered workers will complete their roles promptly and address their personal differences (Haverila and Fehr 2016). Such an approach will reduce the above conflicts recorded at BEC and eventually drive organisational performance.
BEC is a leading provider of EAPs in China due to the commitment of its workers and managers. However, there are specific challenges that make it impossible for employees and their leaders to collaborate and deliver positive results. The use of a new organisational structure, a superior culture and the concepts of project management can address such issues and empower all participants to pursue their goals diligently. Such initiatives will eventually make BEC more profitable and successful in its industry.
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