Workplace can be a demanding environment for personal and work life. It affects personal life because of the many constraints in terms of time management, and working life because of different kinds of people that one works with. The differences can be varied from insignificant issues like the accent of some employees in the workplace and the kind of clothing they wear to cultural and moral values. Additionally, decision making in a work place can be a challenging venture because of the varied opinions which can derail the implementation of plans. Similarly, poor communication in any work environment, whether verbal or through other means, can be a source of stress for employees. It is, therefore, important that people in a working set up learn how to manage and deal with their differences in a working environment so as to avoid the negative impact on the performance of the company they work in. This paper discusses several issues that may be a source of workplace conflicts. It also evaluates various strategies that can be used in resolving the discussed issues.
According to Miller (2006), workplace conflicts are common occurrences in many organizations. This is because most workplaces have employees who come from various cultural set ups, and even different families, so a common view on an issue becomes very difficult to attain. Accordingly, conflicts in workplaces can be caused by personal differences emanating from stresses carried from home or simply a failure of one or two of the employees to attain some personal goal. Miller observes that these conflicts have detrimental effects on the functioning of the organization. Thus, effort should be made to ensure that any conflicting issue, be it within employees themselves or with their superior, is resolved amicably to avoid its negative affect on the organization’s performance. In essence, conflicting views in workplace are part of the organizational process that calls for the attention of the concerned management.
Identified Issues from the Given Scenario
In the given scenario, it is evident that workplace conflict is rampant in the organization. For instance, there is a conflict between Susan and Karishima in terms of communication. Karishima has an accent that Susan cannot comprehend well and this creates communication barrier between the two. Instead of solving the problem, Susan resolves to hate Karishima on this basis. According to Miller (2006), communication barrier can be a big impediment to productivity in an organization. It can be either in form of a different accent which is not understood, like in the case of Susan and Karishima, or misunderstanding of the actual communicated messages due to failure in communication mechanism.
Sioukas (2003) states that in either case, it is important for organizations to have a laid down policy on communication models that will allow the recipient of a communication to respond back as to whether the message is understood or not. He observes that this can be achieved if each employee and every manager knows the real problem causing a barrier in communication with an open mind. Similarly, there should be a distinction between real issues and the personal interests of employees.
Conflict can also result from cultural diversity, which is also evidenced in the scenario provided. Karishima seems to be disliked by both Susan and Molly because she is from a different culture. This is manifested in the way the two dislike her mode of dressing. Sioukas (2003) writes that conflicts emanating from cultural differences in a workplace can be frustrating, as cultures differ in every aspect. He suggests that the issue of cultural differences, like that between Karishima on the one hand and Susan and Molly on the other, can be solved through including cultural agenda to the topics to be tackled during workshops and other meetings in the organization. For instance, the failed company picnic would have provided a suitable environment for the group to exchange cultural views on issues like dressing and food that seems to affect the productivity of Susan and Molly.
Similarly, group and personal communication, as well as verbal and non verbal communication, are lacking in the organization. This is evidenced by Joy who overhears Susan and Molly discussing several issues, including the kind of food they are eating and even fellow employees like Karishima. According to Sioukas (2003), communication is a powerful tool when it comes to solving problems in an organization. In as much as Joy dislikes the ensuing discussion between Susan and Molly, she does nothing to correct the situation. It is important for effective communication to be used as a tool for expressing dissatisfaction in a workplace environment.
Most probably, Joy is likely to carry this information to Karishima and this will cause conflict between the employees. It’s advisable that Joy would have approached the two ladies and intervened by either talking to them directly or forwarding this as an emerging issue to the management so that it would have been addressed in the next meeting. Instead, Joy seems irritated and almost pumps into Dan. Sioukas (2003) notes that eavesdropping and failing to take action can only help to increase the problem of individual differences in an organization.
According to Griffin & Moorhead (2011), individual differences in views and opinions like that between Joy on the one side and Susan and Molly on the other can be addressed conclusively by identifying possible solutions and coming up with the best solution so that the interests of each party were taken into account on a way to harmonization. Griffin & Moorhead (2011) observe that employees and employers engaged in solving any problem should embrace active listening during the process of solving the problem in order to avoid future complains in regard to the resolutions. This can be achieved by sidelining personal egos and interests. Moreover, they should be listening to the opinion of other people before reaching a solution. Such a strategy can be accomplished in a company’s general meetings and trainings.
Employee motivation is another issue manifested in the scenario. It is notable that motivation is vital to employees in enhancing their productivity. Quintessentially, the management in this organization had noticed that the employees needed motivation and had planned for a picnic for the employees. In the meantime, because of lack of converging ideas between them and their employees, they failed to agree on a single itinerary about the picnic. For instance, they fail to agree on simple issues like where to go and timing, and even the food. This is an indication that employees in this company are de-motivated; hence, there is a need to come up with better strategies of ensuring that motivation in the company is boosted.
Griffin & Moorhead (2011) observe that a de-motivated group can be a troublesome group when it comes to productivity in an organization. He identified other forms of motivation apart from picnics. For instance, an organization can reduce workplace conflicts by sponsoring employees to attend trainings and seminars which can add value to the motivation and enhance productivity of the employees. In that manner, the employees will feel that the organization cares about them to provide full sponsored trainings. Such trainings may be conducted in a five star hotel in a different region or country. Besides getting motivated, such trainings increase the production level of employees.
Another issue that underlies the given scenario is the cultural differences that exyst among the employees. It’s evident that Susan and Molly do not know or appreciate the culture which Karishima comes from. And this has led to the dislike that Susan has concerning the accent and dressing of Karishima. In this case, Griffin & Moorhead (2011) advise that appreciation of different cultures in an organization can be a vital step in achieving satisfaction not only on the part of the employee, but also on the whole organization in terms of productivity.
Cultural diversity itself needs to be considered as an asset of the organization. This is because it allows knowledge and different practices to be brought together in accomplishing a task. Similarly, cultural diversity promotes concentration of skills and talents. In this regard, Griffin & Moorhead (2011) argue that an organization can have a strategy of including cultural appreciation within their policies so as to ensure that there are no dislikes of other people’s cultures.
Furthermore, Griffin & Moorhead (2011) observe that this can be done through seminars and trainings where topics on cohesion and mutual existence are taught. Similarly, the problem of cultural diversity concerning accent and other forms of speech can be resolved by having outlined models of communication where response from the recipient indicates an understanding of the communication. In cases where there is no response, clarification should be sought and other mechanisms can be used, like symbols and signs, if these help to solve the problem.
Promotion of personal wellness is also an impediment in delivery of services. For instance, Susan complains of overweight and tiredness which seems to be persistent. Interestingly enough, she does this over another hip of chunk foods, which probably are the cause of overweight and tiredness. Noticeably, her colleague seems to lack a clue to how to assist her friend out of her problems. This shows that personal wellness is an important aspect of a productive organization. As it is, Susan is tired and cannot even realize that lunchtime is spent. Moreover, when the colleague turns up to remind her, she becomes offensive. This is a further indication that the problems affecting Susan are eating up the productive time of the organization. Noticeably, Dan is upset with the response from Susan and wants to report the matter to the supervisor.
A strategy that could be employed in this scenario is to encourage employees to use communication to solve problems in the simplest way possible. Council of Europe (2005) noted that a problem solved by employees can boost productivity and enthusiasm in an organization. This is because each employee will be satisfied that there is someone willing to listen. Sioukas (2003) in his findings suggests that organizations can have special diets on their menus in cafes so as to ensure that the food that employees eat meets the health requirements.
As part of communication breakdown, it is also noticeable that employees in the above scenarios cannot agree on any issue. Decision making is hampered and this derails the planning of management. For instance, Davis as the supervisor knows that his employees need motivation and a break from the usual working environment, but he can do little as the employees themselves cannot agree on some issues. This is a pointer to the fact that communication in the organization and decision making cannot be achieved within the shortest time possible. A solution to such problem can be to involve all people in discussion so as to reach consensus on issues that seem controversial. Council of Europe (2005) found that encouraging group meetings will help to resolve disagreements, as conclusions are more likely to be reached in a group discussion as opposed to when each individual is asked for his/her view in seclusion.
Cultural Diversity Issues Involved in the Conflict
It is evident in the scenario that cultural diversity forms part of the major causes of conflict. As Karishima works towards enhancing communication with Susan and Molly, it is evident that many things about her do not impress the two colleagues. For instance, Karishma’s accent is a source of conflict, but the two colleagues, being uncomfortable with her accent, resolve only to remote backbiting without offering any solution. In any event, accent is an aspect that Karishima can do little about.
Similarly, differences in the form of dressing as a cultural practice are also a source of conflict as Susan and Molly seem to dislike Karishima because of her dressing. It is evident that the two ladies do not seem to appreciate anything from Karishima and this has a negative impact on the productivity of the company. As it is Joy is also drawn into this impasse by virtue of being a sympathizer of Karishima. Evidently, cultural diversity has not been emphasized in this organization, since it is likely to be an excuse for the two ladies for not delivering on their productivity. As a matter of fact, cultural diversity has not been embraced as a strength which the organization could capitalize on and make profits
Impact of Implementing the Strategies in the Workplace
If the above strategies are implemented, it will make a positive impact on the organization in terms of increasing employees’ motivation and productivity, besides their health condition will improve and they will be able to manage their work without boredom. Similarly, with the enhanced communication channels it is possible that customer satisfaction will become higher and, therefore, the organization will make more profits. Additionally, there will be utilization of varied skills and talents as cultural diversity will no longer be a barrier to service delivery.
Workplace environments can be a good ground for conflicts among employees. This is because of the diversity in issues such as culture, communication models, personal interests, motivation, individual differences, and varied opinions among others. However, a careful approach with right strategies can provide solutions to many, if not all, these issues. This write up has discussed issues that drive conflicts in workplace. It has also made it clear that workplace environment can damage the employees’ well-being, especially when it comes to putting up with a stressed up colleague. Finally, it is possible to manage workplace conflicts with proper strategies, as those aiming at maintaining harmony and good working relationships between employees themselves and those with the employer.