Workplace Conflict Resolution

Published 19 Aug 2017

Conflicts between employees are not an uncommon thing in any organization, but how one addresses these conflicts that will take it from destructive to constructive. This implies that the success of any organization depends on its ability to resolve conflicts in the workplace. Proper outlined strategies and techniques in resolving conflicts increases productivity, and it is possible to meet the company’s goals and objectives. Actively participating in conflict resolution prepares employees to be able to detect future problems and avoid hearings in court. This paper will be based on a case study, where strategies to identify problems will aid one come up with suitable techniques to effectively manage workplace conflicts. It is important to note that workplace conflict resolution often takes a non-rational approach (Kolb and Bartunek, 1992, p. 20).

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Mr. X is the manager of a Public Relations firm that deals with advertising, marketing and consultation services to its clients. His management style requires his employees to be liberal and comfortable at the work place, a strategy he believes will increase productivity.

Miss Y is an employee who works at the firm. She is very likeable, professional and a people person. What she does, she gives it her best. Because of this, most clients prefer to come to the firm because they trust to get expert advice on their PR questions and get good results from her.

Miss Y began coming late to work by 5 or 10 minutes. This did not please Mr. X and he politely asked her to keep time. But she continued to do so for almost one week, giving excuses everyday and saying she would try to be early the next day which she never was. One day, Miss Y sat on her desk and was mailing the whole day, not giving clients any interest. This was not a tenet in the organization. Employees were not to sit on their desks when clients were waiting to be served, unless they were designing advertisements or searching for ideas before a meeting with the manager. When Mr. X saw this, he reminded her that she was not supposed to sit on her desk while on the clock she was to seat on the customer care desk.

Miss Y retorted saying that she was being paid less for the effort she was putting in for the company, and she had to walk everyday to work. “Let me be at least for once!” Mr. X went back to his office stunned, not knowing what to tell her because she was still chatting on her computer.

The challenge faced by Mr. X is that his management strategy is at odds with his leadership challenges. His employee is good and he cannot imagine hiring someone else, and training the person, who is unlikely to match Miss Y’s technical and people skills. Nevertheless, he is not supposed to allow each employee to work under their own set of tenets. Mr. X also feels that he was humiliated by Miss Y’s rude response.

The areas to brainstorm in such a case include personality style recognition, how it would help the situation. Miss Y has to realize that Mr. X has his way of managing his employees and should appreciate it as an employee. Second is what Mr. X can do to create a win/win situation. This calls for compromise of both parties and understanding. The third important aspect is on Miss Y, who has to think of what to change in her behavior and attitude in order to appease her boss Mr. X and to retain her job. The fourth and last aspect is on both of them to think of what they can do, to avoid similar clashes in future. This will help in keeping and respecting the ethics of the work place on Miss Y’s part.

The solution of this problem lies within the following approaches; First, Mr. X as the manager should know that if managed in the wrong way, the conflict could go out of control, co-operation could break down and the goals and objectives of the firm would be threatened. He should have summoned Miss Y. to his office and try to solve the conflict amicably; the conflict could be a mutual problem that could be sorted out through discussion and negotiation.

Because of his involvement in the conflict, he should emphasize that he was presenting his own perception of this problem and that he would also want to hear Miss Y’s perception. He should also ensure that while he talks, he should be assertive rather than submissive. This strategy is called setting the scene.

The second strategy is to Brainstorm possible solutions, this is to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the solution. The ideas should be very open. Finally, the last strategy involves negotiating a solution, by now, both sides have a better understanding of the position of the other and mutual agreement is clear. In situations where there could be differences between Mr. X and Miss Y on their positions, Mr. X would practice the win-win negotiation as the manager, to find a solution that satisfies both of them.

In conclusion, it is clear that emotions form part of the crucial steps in resolving of conflicts. When doing conflict evaluation and resolution, emotions of both parties are crucial to note because they could act as signals that one needs to intercede. Having greater self-awareness and avoiding impulse reaction, has achieved a clear margin in the prevention of conflict that is destructive.


  • Bartunek, J. M., Kolb, D. M., Lewicki, R. J. (1992) “Bringing Conflict Out From Behind the Scenes”, in Hidden Conflict in Organizations. Bartunek, J. M., Kolb, D. M., (Eds). London: SAGE Publications.
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