Innuendo Company Ltd.: Conflicts in Organization

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 5
Words: 1437
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD

Executive summary

Conflicts are a common occurrence in organizations (Avruch et al, 1998, p. 23). Recently in was involved in a conflict with our Finance manager at Innuendo Company Ltd. The Marketing team was presenting a proposal on the next target market. As the team leader I had requested that three members from the marketing department visit the new market. The Finance manager was against the idea by citing constraints in resources and duplication of assignments. He stated that it was not necessary to direct the company resources towards the opening a new market. This decision did not go well with me and as a matter of fact I challenged her. This led to an explosive disagreement which necessitated the intervention of the General Manager. The Finance manager complained that I was emotional and disrespectful to her as far as her gender, personality and values were concerned. However, in my view, communication and personality differences ware the source of the conflict as stated by Dana (2006, p.120). The General Manager ordered that we write up a case study of conflict resolution in organization and based on the report, the General Manager resolved the conflict amicably.

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Introduction

Kellett (2007, p. 16) states that conflicts arise when two or more parties with perceived incompatible goals seek to undermine each other’s goal-seeking capability. Brem (1995, p. 42) argues that conflicts arise because of divergent needs, interest and values. In addition, it can be as a result of unexpected opposition. On the other hand, this may be due to personal and societal differences between groups and organizations. A conflict does not occur unless the situation at hand is intertwined to a previous issue (Kellett, 2007, p. 14).

The Conflict between Innuendos’ marketing team and the Finance manager had been going on over time generating a ‘cold war’ between the two critical departments in the company. It was just a matter of time before the emotional build up could explode. As a matter of fact this situation presented an opportunity to iron out these differences. The major point of diversion was resource allocation. The conflict was about sending three sales members to open up a new market. The budget presented in the proposal was more than what the finance department was willing to fund. This is why the finance manager was suggesting that there was no need to open up the new market.

Involvement of the sales team and the whole Finance department showed great rifts in communication. It also exposed the differences that the departments were facing. With both parties holding their ground, the conflict became more than a disagreement between me and the Finance manager. The conflict therefore, presented an opportune moment to solve previous conflicts and harmonize communication between the two departments. This situation therefore demanded the intervention of the Managing director (Cahn, 2006, p. 12).

Critical Discussion

Factors that influence conflict

There are four factors as stated by McNamara (2008, p. 8) that influences conflicts. Communication barriers are brought about by lack of information on new decisions and programs, rationale and reasons for decisions. This is because the sales team was not involved in decision-making and as a result it trusted the “rumour mill” more than the management. The amount of resources allocated to the Marketing department was insufficient hence creating stress from working with inadequate resources (Budjac, 2006, p. 24). This affected performance and employee job satisfaction. On the other hand there was a mismatch between strong personal natures and conflicting values.

Diverse cultural values, personality and educational background created disharmony and divergent views (Folger et al, 2004, p. 9). Leadership problems are mostly characterised by inconsistent and uninformed leadership. Supervisors and in this case the Finance manager did not have an understanding of the functions and operations of the Marketing department. The Management style was also aristocratic with unclear information flow. Feedback and reports gathered from the field and presented to the management were not acted upon and neither was feedback from the management side. As a matter of concern communication was one way (Knowles& Saxberg, 1971, p. 24).

Behavior of parties in a conflict

This is well looked at by the Thomas-Kilmann Instruments (Thomas &Kilmann, 2001, p. 43). These are avenues through which resolutions can be reached. As far as conflicts are concerned those in contention show two kinds of behavior. Assertiveness is the degree by which an individual may attempt to satisfy his concerns. Cooperativeness goes to extend of satisfying others concerns. Thomas (1976) describes five dimensions of behavior based on assertiveness and cooperation. Because of competition, people will tend to chase their own concerns at the expense of others. This may force them to defend their positions even if they are contradictory. In a bid to be accommodative one may sacrifice his own concerns to ensure that others are comfortable (Johnson, 1976, p. 20). This will bring in an element of sacrifice. On the other hand, an individual may postpone concerns because of threatening situations and opt for diplomatic measures (Blake &Mouton, 1964, p. 21).

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As far as collaborations are concerned the parties involved will attempt to ensure that everybody is satisfied. This aims to settle at a middle ground. In addition, collaborating occurs in both assertive and cooperative situations. In the course of collaborating individuals are supposed to learn from each other. This will have an aim of ensuring that they settle on a middle ground that would have seen them compete in ether way. It has also been proven that an intermediate can be compromised in both occasions. By doing this, the major concern should be to reach a middle ground. In extreme cases, it is advisable to have a compromise that will ensure that everybody’s concerns are incorporated.

Measures to resolve a conflict

Conflict resolution in an organisation takes the forms of key managerial actions and individual conflict resolution. According to Dana (2001, p. 19), company management can reduce conflicts by implementing the following strategies: regular job descriptions review by getting employee input to them, building relationships with all subordinates by meeting regularly and discuss accomplishments, challenges and issues. Regular reports on accomplishments, currents issues and plans for the upcoming period (Schellenberg, 1996, p. 18). Conduct trainings on interpersonal skills, conflict management and delegation of duties. It is good to come up with a well elaborate procedure for tasks. Normally it is advisable that regular meetings be held to develop new initiatives. The management can get suggestions from employees by using a suggestion box.

McNamara (2008) states that individuals in an organization can manage conflicts by: avoiding conflicts when it is not worth the effort to argue. It is acceptable that one can accommodate conflicts without necessarily compromising them. Collaborating by focusing on working together and creating mutual needs, this cultivates ownership and commit and acknowledging points of agreement and disagreement.

Conclusion

There are several key issues that accompany conflict resolution in an organization. However, the most effective way an organization can deal with conflicts is by undertaking conflict management programs (Blake and Mouton, 1964, p. 7). By managing conflicts depending on previous cases in other organizations gives the company a wider spectre of views to look into when faced with conflicts. The weakness in such cases though arises with differences in context, personality, culture and organization. There is no single universal application that can be used to resolve conflicts. Solving conflicts should result in a win-win situation and this should be the goal of any organization affected by conflicts. The study by Thomas (1976, p. 43) and presented in the form of TKI – Thomas-Kilmann Instrument – is a critical tool to use in conflict management, further studies should be done to include other parameters that come into play during conflict resolution that have both direct and indirect effects on the outcome of decisions.

Recommendation

According to Education and Training Unit (2010), conflicts can be handled more effectively and productively by understanding conflicts various developmental stages. The stages include: coming up with avenues to cite potential areas that will result in conflicts. Latent conflict – this is concerned with occasions where competition can end up being a conflict. An example is problems that may arise between employees. Open conflict – In this scenario a small happening can integrate into a conflict. Aftermath conflict – This is where there was a good stride to solve a problem but there is a possibility that it will recur. The ability of the problem to recur is highly reliant on the perception from individuals. Organizations need to undertake and understand the above steps to be prepared for any conflict and resolve them amicably.

Reference List

Avruch, K. Black, P. W. & Scimecca, J. A. 1998. Conflict resolution: Cross-cultural perspective. New York: Praeger.

Blake, R. & Mouton, J. 1964. The Managerial Grid. Houston: Gulf publishing.

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Brem, C. 1995. Are we on the same team here? Victoria: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd.

Budjac, C. B. 2006. Conflict Management: A Practical Guide to Developing Negotiation Strategies. New York: Pearson.

Cahn, D. 2006. Managing conflict through communication. 3rd ed. New York: Pearson.

Dana, D. 2001. Conflict Resolution. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 137-143.

Education and Training Unit. 2010. Paralegal Advice [Online]. Available at: www.etu.org.za/. [Accessed 26 August 2010].

Folger, J. Poole, M. & Stutman, R. 2004. Working through conflict: strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. New York: Pearson.

Johnson, R. A. 1976. Management, systems, and society: an introduction. California: Goodyear Pub. Co.

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Kellett, P. M. 2007. Conflict Dialogue. London: Sage Publications.

Knowles, H. & Saxberg, B. 1971. Personality and leadership behavior. Massachutes: Addison-Wesley Pub Co.

McNamara, C. 2008. Basics of Conflict management. Minnesota: Authenticity Consulting, Llc.

Schellenberg, J. A. 1996. Conflict resolution: Theory, research and practice. New York: State University of New York Press.

Thomas K. 1976. The handbook of industrial and organizational psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Thomas, W. T. & Kilmann H. R. 2001. Conflict mode instrument. Minneapolis: Consulting Psychologists Press Inc.