Conflicts are a normal part of life, which can occur among ordinary people, managers, volunteers, or clients. In general, disagreements can emerge for an infinite number of reasons. However, at the root of most conflicts are different goals and interests (Wilmot & Hocker, 2014). On the other hand, before attempting to solve disagreements, it is critical to evaluate the situation to determine the actual cause of the conflict (Overton & Lowry, 2013). In that regard, this essay discusses two workplace conflict situations involving managers of a department. While the conflict in the first case is caused by differences in work-goals, the second scenario is the result of conflicting interests. The objective of the discussion is to evaluate the situations to suggest amicable solution strategies. Accordingly, the report is valuable because understanding the conflict triggers simplifies the resolution process and creates an opportunity for future avoidance.
In many organizations, differences among managers are caused by conflicting objectives especially when the work-goals of a department are tangled with those of other divisions. Equally, when an employees’ work objectives and expectations contracts with their seniors’, a conflict may emerge. For example, Overton and Lowry (2013) wrote that such disagreements arise because the two parties believe their aims are mutually exclusive. On the other hand, unharmonious goals can surface when department managers are compensated differently. For example, a company may tie the bonus it offers to a sales manager to the amount of sales the employee makes for the organization. Thus, to achieve high sales, the manager may be tempted to offer customers expedited delivery and other “freebies.”
On the other hand, the firm may require the transportation manager’s reward to be determined by considering the amount of money the organization saves on transport. For this reason, managers in this department may employ different ways to reduce transit costs. A typical approach to achieve the goal is the elimination of expedited delivery. However, this method of lowering expenses will threaten the sales manager’s effort to increase sales.
Consequently, the sales and transport departments will end up in conflict due to goals differences. Therefore, for the firm to solve the problem, it should identify a better expediting approach, which neither negates the value of the sale not increase the transit costs. For example, they can assign the bonus based on not just the dollar amount but also the profitability of a sale in which the expediting costs are subtracted from the sales value (Heathfield, 2019). This method solves the conflict because the outcome favors both departments.
Disagreements can arise among workers in a working environment if the employees have competing loyalties, interests, viewpoints, or allegiance, which are implicitly different. The scenario can cause struggles among the workforces. According to Haque, Minhajuddin, Gupta, and Agrawal (2018), these types of conflicts are prohibited in employee handbooks as well as in organizational codes of conduct for various reasons. For one, conflict interest can provoke workers to act out of self-interest, which is contrary to those of their co-workers or employers. Additionally, when interests conflict, the management’s integrity, reputation, and trustworthiness suffers. Therefore, employees in workplaces should be trained to avoid choices or behaviors that cause a conflict of interests.
Nevertheless, conflict of interest is frequent and can emerge in different ways among an organization’s workforces. For instance, suppose the sales manager in the previous example worked in alongside a female colleague, who is also a manager in the same department. The two dated but were forced to part ways over time. Later, she finds herself reporting to the male sales manager who is promoted to the position of director.
In this situation, the organization will be forced to determine a practical approach to solve the potential conflict between the manager and the new director. For example, even though the two employees are no longer dating, the firm may need to change the reporting chain of the sales department (Heathfield, 2019). This modification is vital because the former relationship could result in a potential conflict of interest, particularly in the coworkers’ eyes.
Nevertheless, employees’ responses to conflict situations depend on their styles of handling conflict. According to Wilmot and Hocker (2014), various conflict styles include obliging, avoiding, integrating, compromising, and dominating. In general, since people develop their conflict approaches over the course of their lives, the conflict styles, which the employees in these examples might adopt are influenced the individual’s cultural background.
Overall, goal and interest conflicts can result in dire consequences in an organization. As illustrated by the first example, conflicting goals among different departments in a company can trigger misunderstandings within the management team and subsequently result in the group’s failure to achieve the overall company’s objectives. Similarly, when interests conflict, it compromises the management’s integrity, reputation and trustworthiness suffer. Thus, irrespective of whether the disagreement is between two departments or individuals, it can produce negative consequences whose impacts are felt by everyone in the organization. Accordingly, training workers to avoid choices or behaviors that can cause a conflict of interests is critical.
Haque, W., Minhajuddin, A., Gupta, A., & Agrawal, D. (2018). Conflicts of interest of editors of medical journals. PloS one, 13(5), e0197141.
Overton, A. R., & Lowry, A. C. (2013). Conflict management: difficult conversations with difficult people. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 26(04), 259-264.
Heathfield, S. M. (2019). Conflict of interest. The balance careers. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/conflict-of-interest-1918090
Wilmot, W., & Hocker, J. (2014). Interpersonal conflict (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.