Workplace dispute, as a result of internal promotion, that took place due to the shifting of operational head to another branch and this case made me learn various good things about the role of effective communication at each and every level within the organization.
Herry, James and I, being the team leaders, have been working in a local newspaper agency sharing the same office premises for many years which turned out the professional relationship among the colleagues into a very close companionship. After these seven years of strong companionship, there comes a day when existing operational head of the agency was transferred to another branch creating vacancy for manager operations in this particular branch. After a deep discussion in an official meeting about the same, it was decided that James would be promoted to this particular profile which gave rise to an unwanted dispute among the two close friends, Herry and James. I, being the ideal team leader, could not be promoted and therefore only these two people were there who can be considered appropriate for this particular designation of operational head.
Herry and James have been very close friends and professional work colleagues since many years but this turning point of their life changed the feelings and bonding they were sharing with each other. This was not the actual tension on official grounds, actual dispute aroused at that point of time when James, being an operational head, introduced a new policy which made no sense to the team members and just increased their existing workload. Although team members were not allowed to question upon any of the policies being made by operational head but Herry, being a close friend, lost her temper (Cushman and Cahn, 2005). It was literally the biggest deal for me, being a team leader, to identify the “spark” that ignited this disagreement and find out the most appropriate solution that can resolve the conflict and help these two people regain the sense of friendship for each other.
As per the views of Herry, working with this newspaper agency for longest time period, she knows well what initiatives can prove to be helpful for the organization and what tends to create workplace issues. It was clear in Herry’s mind that this policy would fail due to the consistent increase in workload of team member and therefore she felt that James could have expressed firmer opposition to this policy which might have been set by the senior management. This particular thought in Herry’s mind has ignited the spark of anger ultimately giving rising to a silent workplace conflict that is quite difficult to resolve through legal actions. Besides this, Herry believed that being a less experienced employee, James lacks self confidence and the meetings that are being called up by James were just wastage of time as she takes a moment to get started and becomes diverted very easily which creates a feeling of frustration in the mind of employees.
When James was asked to identify her perception of the reasons behind this conflict, she clearly stated that she is continuously facing split in the team dynamics and she considers Herry as the reason for this split and sense of disrespect. More than half of the employees still treat her in the same manner as they did before this promotion which is quite difficult while challenging the quality of work and rest of the employees maintain particular distance from her. This creates an impression that they degrade the performance of James by spreading negative things in about her in secret and Herry highly favors them which is quite unbearable for her. Additionally, James believed that Herry just wants to incapacitate James’ attempt to become a successful manager by making irrelevant remarks during the meeting which undermines her authority.
I, being a team leader and companion of both the parties involved in dispute could not take any legal action against any of the parties and therefore decided to go for an informal communication method called mediation. Mediation can be considered a better option to sort out this dispute as the two individual were good friends before the promotion and formal procedures of conflict resolution may cause further harm to the relationship. For this reason, mediation seems to be a genuine alternative and moral action in which disputing parties work with a neutral third party to resolve their disputes.
In this process, I helped both the parties to find a common ground with the aim of dealing with unrealistic expectations in an effective manner and regain the sense of friendship and it actually worked out when the final outcomes were extremely positive. After this individual and joint communication sessions, both Herry and James started respecting each other’s opinions as Herry realized that James was also opposed to the policy of senior management but was under managerial pressure to implement it regardless of any positive or negative outcomes (Fielding, 2005).
From this particular experience of dealing with organizational conflict or where I had to choose between legality and morality, I have learnt so many good things about the role and significance of effective communication at each and every phase of organizational activity. This situation made me learn that that the personal relationships among employees are also sometimes affected by the decisions that are taken on the senior management level which can be only be sorted out with the help of strong leadership skills and tactics (Sims, 2002). Each and every leader sometimes has to live in challenging times and it is very essential at that time to be moral while making each and every choice. Although morality does not work out in all the circumstances but a leader has to keep in mind the moral values so as to become an ideal leader (Acker, 2012). In the above case, I resolved a conflict applying an alternative method of conflict resolution keeping in mind the moral values and I ultimately succeeded in effective management of workplace conflict.
Acker, D. D. 2012. Skill in Communication: A Vital Element in Effective Management. DIANE Publishing.
Cushman, D. P. and Cahn, D. D. 2005. Communication in Interpersonal Relationships. SUNY Press.
Fielding, M. 2005. Effective Communication in Organisation. USA: Juta and Company Ltd.
Sims, R. R. 2002. Managing Organizational Behavior. Greenwood Publishing Group.