Workplace Conflict Resolution Theories

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 10
Words: 2665
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: PhD

Conflict Case Scenario

Carl is the production manager of square widgets at EFG, has an engineering degree and has worked there for 20 years. Carl has deep product knowledge and extensive mgt. experience. Jennifer is the Production Mgr. of the Round Widgets and has worked at EFG for 15 years. Her experience has been in marketing and support services. She was recently promoted to Production mgr. as a result of her strong performance in other areas and her knowledge in business. A conflict had risen between these two. Both the Square and Round widgets production departments draw from the same design pool of engineers to develop upgrades. Having worked in this dept., Carl maintained good relations with these guys. Jennifer, having spent most of her time in the marketing department, does not have close connections but has friends in marketing.

The senior marketing organ of the company has determined that upgrades in both widgets must be developed within the next three months if the firm is to stay competitive with other companies. The marketing dept. has already placed ads in the trade magazines and media based magazines on the assumption that Carl and Jen can have their widgets ready on time. 90 days will be tight for one product but to complete both products in the same period will severely strain design engineering resources. To make matters worse it is November and many employees have put in for holidays off. So Carl and Jen are in direct competition for the services of design engineering to meet the requirements placed on them. The two have clashed before so both are apprehensive about this challenge.

The following is an outline of the conflict resolution strategy surmised to suffice for the described scenario. The outline taps from various theoretical and conceptual frameworks that relate to related organisational management aspects in domains that enlist Human Resources management, Leadership theories as well as conflict resolution theories among others.

Conflicts which culminate from various provenances arise in business environments owing to various reasons. Conflicts of varying nature may result from varied perspectives, belief systems, value systems as well as interests. People may have varied perspectives on a particular scenario or individuals may experience varying forms of divergence emanating from particular individuals’ accumulated life experiences as well as planned or elaborate conditioning. Differences also emerge from divergent objectives and interests. Dealing with conflict is a salient management responsibility which requires the illumination of the individuals’ divergent perspectives, interests, belief systems as well as values. The above scenario requires a holistic approach that will entail various feasible human resources management, leadership concepts as well as communication traits among other conflict resolution approaches and concepts.

The conflict management approach in this scenario will tap in the merits of the conflict management theory propounded by who asserts that in handling such problems related to varying objectives, management has to approach the individuals exactly where they are and ascertain their needs before attempting any knee jerk solutions to solutions. The proponents of the conflict management theory underscore that humans are not uniform but heterogeneous individuals who must be understood and approached open mindedly to maintain and foster harmony. The theory also holds that is will be important in conflict resolution to hear the perspectives of the conflicting individuals fully before attempting to lead towards any particular direction. Schein, E.H (2005) reinforces that, “It is possible to progress toward a resolution when and until each affected person experiences that that has been adequately heard on their view point and that what they want as well as why they want has been established and recognised”.

For the given scenario characterised by the nature of conflicting objectives; The theorist’s presents that managers focusing on conflict resolution must recognize that in each conflict scenario there are some aspects of all affected individuals which lay a feasible platform for the resolution of the conflict. These form the common ground which constitute the following ; Individuals in conflict have overlapping interests , may also have common friends as well as colleagues Most importantly individuals in conflict are keen to obtain a resolution to the problem as soon as possible,” In an economic and expeditious way” D.E. Johnson (1996).

Individuals in conflict know that none can impose a unilateral solution on another without having to pay the hefty consequences of such an action. In the conflict there can still be found and established points of agreement. These present feasible opportunities for possible agreement. Astute management would seek to enable the affected or conflicting parties to identify what they may be easily able to come to agreement on as a basis for further discussions and possible agreements hence possible resolutions.

Organisational Theory and Employee Satisfaction

The application of holistic conflict interpretation and resolution approach will illuminate that the crux of the outlined case scenario is based on the reality that set production goals have to be met in inhibiting a set of circumstances aggravated by the reality of significant employee sign offs for the month of November. The feasible approach to the problem must entail perspectives and concepts of various organisational theories. Organisational Theory and studies focus on the systematic explorations of; and analysis of how people as individuals and as groups function within organisational operational frameworks. Robbins, Stephen P. adds that, “In this view Human resource management is thus viewed as a strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisation’s dynamic, versatile yet precious assets, the personnel who function within organisations both as groups and as individuals towards the accomplishments of organisational objectives.” From another perspective the theme of organisational culture which is crucial to employee satisfaction and production is defined as the aspect that entails the attitudes, values, beliefs as well as experiences of an organisation. From this premise management or leadership are able to bring all key variables into perspectives and map the feasible way forward for the resolution of the matter which will mean the meeting of set production goals and the ensuring of satisfaction of affected conflict parties as well the management of potential or drastic consequences of draft resolutions.

Organisational culture is largely viewed as the particulate assortment of the values and customs commonly shared by the people within an organisation, from personnel up to the top structures of management. Handy, C.B. notes, “These are perceived to the very influential in determining manners in which the people within the organisation will interact with one another as well as with external stakeholders of the organisation”. The foregoing presents a feasible context within which personnel can be manipulated to have their roles and functionalities enhanced for the effective functioning of the entirety of the organisation towards the accomplishment of shared goals and vision. Various contributions have been made in the subjects of how motivation of workers and the entirety of an employee satisfaction stratagem can enhance the productivity of an organisation and enhance the accomplishment of its shared goals. This will be particularly applicable to the HRM endeavors of focusing on how best to boost production with limited personnel capacity in the month of November.

Part of the conflict resolution beyond the scope of the problem at the conflicting duo of Carl do Jen must be the thrust at motivating workers to work and redress the real problem which is characterised by production goals that are disproportionate with personnel capacity given the November holiday sign-offs. Various mainstream endeavors in the domains of employee satisfaction and production have shown that aspects like team work can boost the moral of workers and thus impact positively on the company’s productivity. This runs with the understanding that team work has tremendous effectiveness in getting things done in organisations. This view is commensurate with McGregor’s X-Y Theory which is useful in illustrating the reasons why empowered teams achieve great results in their group undertakings.

In outlining nuances from McGregor’s theory Burns, J. M. (1978) states that empowering team members is about attitude and behavior towards the personnel rather than the essence of manipulating tools and processes. He adds that, “Ways of enhancing the merits of teamwork border on fostering the aspects such as respect, enthusiasm and courage for personnel opposed to exploiting and driving people especially in cases marked with existent or potential conflict among the workers”. The diagram below illustrates tenets of McGregor’s X-Y theory in way of demonstrating its applicability to the dynamics and merits of the explored team work experience.

Team work experience

McGregor’s model suggests that Theory X which represents authoritarian and repressive personnel management models results in crippling control of an organisation’s personnel which results in a lack of development and thus produces a limited and depressed culture. On the contrary the model’s “Y” dimension holds that liberating and pro-developmental personnel management models are the feasible paradigms for people and conflict management. The theory suggests in its core that much accomplishment is obtained through enabling, empowering and sharing of responsibilities across an organisation’s personnel “This is true of team activities designed to afford personnel to share responsibilities in various steam building task and activities. This enables employees to feel enthusiastic about their work and translates to a significant boost on a business’ productivity”. (Johnson, G. 1988) The merits of the foregoing must be tapped by the company’s HRM and production management organs as part of the holistic strategy aimed at ensuring that the company’s set production goals are met.

The long conflict resolution stratagem must recognize the fact that employees’ cultural dissonances may culminate in workplace conflict. As such people management approaches must ensure that employees must be engaged in activities that will assist in developing their communicative and intercultural skills. This has been perceived to diminish the proportion of negative factors that can be classified in the McGregor’s theory as de-motivators. One of way of developing personnel in this dimension with the object of boosting and protecting their workplace morale entails the running of tram building exercise. Handy, C.B. (1985) emphasizes that these must be packed with various activities that will enhance personnel skills. One of the crucial components of the team building expeditions is the conducting of mind tasks. The objectives of the mind task dimension are in tandem with the theoretical tenets of Frederick Hertzberg motivational theory. Hertzberg’s theory holds that key motivational channels in team work and individual performance in organisations is tied to the inclination of personal development or advancement that exists in individuals. Hertzberg’s work has largely been related to other insights coming from the psychology research work around domains of motivation. The motivational theory hinges on the proved inclination of personnel to various forms and degrees of desired Psychological development.

Leadership and Employee Satisfaction

Organisational culture and HRM motivation and theoretical concepts and tenets can not be explored in isolation of other organisational aspects. Bass, B. M. (1985) posits that in transformational leadership thrusts individuals will follow someone who is inspirational to them. He notes that, “A team leader with vision and passion has a lot to achieve since the feasible way of getting things efficiently done is to infuse enthusiasm and energy to team members and the team will function effectively as a unit”. Legge, Karen (2004) presents that transformational leadership which is largely inclined to the process and demands of organisational change, makes the team work experience a great and uplifting experience. He notes, “Transformational leaders will ensure that team members function with their full support and that everyone operates with passion and energy in all tasks. Transformational leaders want their followers to succeed in what they are undertaking”. These measures have been tested and have often proved that personnel productivity can be enhanced by such motivational and team building and team spirit thrusts that make employees understand the goals of management and thus enable the organisation to function as a harmonious unit towards the accomplishment of set goals.

Transformational leadership has a powerful influence on job satisfaction both directly and indirectly through its influence on a person’s intrinsic task motivation (empowerment). Transformational leadership tenets that emphasise the essence of flexibility are deemed feasible for the prospects of adopting and implementing customer oriented organisational culture as well as masterminding complimentary staff development programmes. This is essential for the case scenario firm which is faced with a critical obligation to fulfill customer exceptions having advertised the products in the magazines. Unlike transactional leadership, which has no effect on empowerment; transformational leadership model must be adopted by the firm for the implementation of a paradigmatic shift process that enable the company to reorient its thrust towards employees and of course customer satisfactions above operation. The shift will enable personnel to move off traditional and typically product-pushing approaches to employee satisfaction inclined approaches. The customer orientation concepts must be ingrained in the minds and culture of the conflict duo and all personnel so that employees will be in position to prioritise organisational goals and customer satisfaction above their personal idiosyncrasies as well dissonances. This presents another common platform for conflict resolution as it is establishable that both individuals must have a common goal which in this case is meeting set production goals for the advertised products.

The conflict management theory holds that a holistic approach to the problem resolution will recognize that conflict obtains at both intrapersonal and interpersonal levels. The intrapersonal dimension entails forms of inner antagonism evident through aspects such as confusions and a protracted lack of congruity as well as in inconsistency. notes that is most intrapersonal conflict scenarios affected individuals fail to effectively merge their various ‘parts’ or the inner voices to accomplish a feasible and comfortable representation of personal interests. In the give case scenario some goals pertaining to the resolution of the conflict must be fulfilled. The two parties must be made to must be brought to an understanding of the prioritization of organisational goals and objectives. This will also be accomplished through illuminating of the fact the two have some positive aspects in common. Most importantly the two are keen on getting their set production targets for the moth of November. Management has to find ways of making these the objectives actaulise by getting then root cause of the actual problem which relayed to the personnel capacity of November affected by major holiday sign-off and hence disproportionate human resource capacity to work load.

Business success is achieved through a working implementation of a multi-dimensional stratagem that will harness the efficiencies of the entirety of an organisation’s facets. Organisational fronts have to work together in synergy towards the accomplished of shared and declared goals. Many organisations that have downplayed the importance of prioritising conflict and organisational diversity management as well as employees satisfaction have suffered the dire consequences culminating in business failure in worst case scenarios. Various business management and leadership bodies of knowledge have various theoretical contributions that can and must be considered for application to champion business success through enhancing and sustaining the effectiveness and efficiencies of the human resources also achieved through the important aspect of diversity management particularly in growing business entities. Management has to employ various theoretical tenets germane for ensuring business success through feasible human resource and conflict management models. Contemporary business organisations face mammoth tasks in curtailing diversity paradigm challenges posed by factors such as globalisation, the implications of Information Technology advancement and limitations of mainstream leadership approaches in handling the critical aspect of diversity and workplace conflict. The challenges prompt various forms of reactions on the part of Human resource Management.

The company’s service delivery optimisation has been done in cognisance of the relationship between service quality and employee conflict management and satisfaction hence retention as well as the links between personnel communication and behavioral skills as well as customer satisfaction. Sustainability requires business management and leadership to be clairvoyant in a way of anticipating future hurdles and formulating feasible pre-emptive ways of surmounting them. It can be noted that the company leadership style together with other factors and variables will champion the meeting of the company’s short term production levels.


Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press.

Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Robbins, Stephen P. (2004). Organizational Behavior – Concepts, Controversies, Applications. Prentice Hall, NYK.

Simon, Herbert A. (1997) Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations, The Free Press. London.

Legge, Karen (2004). Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities, Anniversary Edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. NC.

Handy, C.B. (1985) Understanding Organizations, 3rd Edn, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, WV.

Schein, E.H. (1985-2005) Organizational Culture and Leadership, 3rd Ed., Jossey-Bass, New York.

Johnson, G. (1988) “Rethinking Incrementalism”, Strategic Management Journal, NYK Press.

” J.M. Syptak. Family Practice Management. (1998). Altruism in Practice Management: Caring for Your Staff.”, College Press, Ohio.

B.B. Longest. Stamford, Conn: Appleton & Lange; (1996). Health Professionals in Management, Job Satisfaction: Application, Assessment, Causes and Consequences. Sidney,Millennium Press.

Fuller and Unwin (2003),Workplace Learning & Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources, 7th ed. P. Hersey, K.H. Blanchard, D.E. Johnson. (1996). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

F. Herzberg, B. Mausner, B.B. Snyderman. Somerset, (1993). The Motivation to Work. NJ: Transaction Publishers.