A conflict in an organization occurs when the interests or preferences of various groups or persons are incompatible, and the groups or persons block each other’s efforts to fulfill their objectives. Conflict is the process or a course that commences when a person in the interaction process believes that another person or group is not making proper decisions. It also arises when an individual sees another group or person is in an impediment to achieving his goals or needs. Considering the perspective for imagined or actual frustrations of a person, conflict commonly exists in various organizations. This is a global phenomenon and cannot be avoided due to various perceptions and different views of individuals. There are various causes of conflicts in organizations. To start with, various organizations and companies have employees with divergent perceptions, values, and personalities. Second, in various organizations, employees are given tasks with divergent characteristics that affect imbalanced ranks, and they normally encourage competition among employees (Gratton and Erickson, 2007). Lastly, conflict results from various groups with different views in an organization. The groups with divergent views compete for a resource, and due to the various intentions of each group, conflicts result. As a result, conflict is a bound to happen aspect of social relations, an inescapable consequence of social interactions, and is interdependent between groups and people.
The cause of conflict and alienation at work and evaluation of the resolution methods
The report attempts to analyze the cause of conflict and alienation at work and evaluates the methods of conflict resolution in organizations. The report also critically analyzes the impact of conflict to various organizations. In achieving this objective, the report analyses the effects of changes, employee aspects ranging from relation strategies, policies and practices on employees’ performance. Labor unions roles in conflict management are presented in this report taking UNITE as a case study. Based on Donald (2004) definition and in this context, labor relations are the connections between employees and union management. Labor relations deal with all aspects relating to terms of employment. It is therefore crucial as stated by Stephen and Donald (2004) to understand the capability of a labor union (UNITE) to adapt to technology changes, globalization and political environment in conflict resolution. It is the union members that govern a given labor union. The main objective of a labor union is to represent its members to the employer for welfare of other members. Whitney (2008) states that it is the union leadership to tackle matters in relation to working conditions, disciplinary procedures, privileges, and employment contract and conflict resolutions. UNITE is an international labor union with objectives of protecting its members’ welfare in any organization. As stated by Whitney (2008), UNITE like other labor unions in United States, has statewide and global connections as it operates in the United Kingdom and Irish. The report contains recommendations to UNITE in dealing with conflict resolutions in organizations.
UNITE and conflict resolution
According to Kelloway and Julian (1998), labor union can be defined as group of employees in an company or organization whose aim is to fight other members’ interests, normally salary improvement and better working conditions. UNITE, an example of labor union was formed in 2007, serves both British and Irish.
In the past, working hours and wages were negotiated by employers and personal employees. This was due to the reason that the social-economic and legal environment never favored union formations by employees. As a result of the lack of labor unions, various employees have been abused by the employers, causing conflicts between management and employees in various organizations. This is among the reasons UNITE was formed to fight for employee rights and help resolve conflicts in between employers and employee in various organizations. For harmony in an organization and in attempts to reduce the conflicts, three regulations have been formed by UNITE; labor relations, collective agreements and protective legislation. As confirmed by Hunt and Patricia (1994), the main reason of protective legislation is to set maximum working hours, minimum salary for every group of employees. The protective legislations have been designed to prevent discrimination based on gender or race and hence reducing conflicts. UNITE has fought for the right of employee association and unions formations in addressing their needs. As stated by Whitney (2008), UNITE has encouraged the use of labor unions as the sole bargaining route and elimination of oppressive practices by management of any organization. This has reduced the oppressions by the employers and hence reducing conflicts. It is through the labor unions that employees are allowed to negotiate with one another compared to protective legislations is does not set terms and conditions.
Currently, as stated by Reimold and Reimold (2007), most employees have departments for labor relations to solve problems of negotiations and supervision agreements. UNITE has dealt with daily issues concerning salaries and wages, promotions, discipline and arbitrations (Hunt and Patricia 1994). UNITE has been the mouth piece of its members. In cases where employees are oppressed, UNITE has assisted. Through it, employees get their grievances addressed and it is also responsible for providing education to their members and providing skilled labor to companies (Kelloway and Julian, 1998).
Labor relations are important tool for a company’s management when dealing with union leadership and this is done through three levels; relations strategies, negotiating contracts and administering contracts. It is through labor relations strategies that organization management can decide either to deal with union or non-union operations. This decision is influenced by forces external to organizations for instance public opinions and competition (Kelloway and Julian 1998). Unions have to either accept new management relationships or fight for change on relationship between unions and the organizations (Gratton and Erickson, 2007). The negotiating contracts entail issues regarding job security, salaries and wages, and working hour’s regulations. The administering contracts entail daily activities between management and employees for instance work rule violations, and disagreements among others.
Cause of conflict and alienation at work
In an organization, each person or group has a different opinion or perception. Normally, this is a psychological problem and so do not have anything to do with their formal interactions or job requirements. As result of divergent perceptions and opinion of individual in an organization, there have been various conflicts.
Employees in an organization have different experiences; background, training and education. As a result, people have developed very different perceptions of same occasions. The divergent experiences may result to a conflict. On the contrary, vertical conflicts emerge in various organizations; usually because management tries to have full control on their employees and in some cases when resistance develops, conflict occurs (Kelloway and Julian, 1998). Majority of the employees do resists when they feel the management infringes on their personal sovereignty, make their behavior more boring and predictable to other employees. In some cases when the employer exposes an individual’s personal life, the employee is looked down upon by other colleagues.
Companies and organizations have various reward schemes. When an employee is rewarded for the good work and as a motivation method, it brings about frustrations to other unrewarded employees and at times this causes conflicts. As asserted by Reimold (2007), in some case the employee not rewarded fee they are never appreciated in that organization and start undermining other colleagues. This mostly leads to interpersonal conflicts among employees and management in the work environment, and also among employees themselves and the management. The other case is where some employees are given salary increments and others of the same job group or rank are left.
Power and status differences
Organizations have various political structures. Organizations work by authoritative distribution and also setting a stage for exercise of authority and power. In organizations where power is distributed, unequal sharing or in cases where other employee are superior that others, this can cause a conflict. For instance, when a less experienced employee gives orders to a more experienced employee or younger to older, conflicts might result (Capozzoli, 1999). Leadership style is also important in any team coordination. Some of the leadership favors other employee for given reasons. In some cases, leaders misuse power and results to conflicts.
Normally, conflicts result when every person in that organization fights to have a share of a limited resource. The notion that someone is out to clear the whole resource of over utilize it do bring ill intentions between employees. When the shortage is absolute or utter, for instance when the resource cannot be improved, it becomes very intricate to manage or deal with conflicts. The other example is when three qualified people vie for one position in an organization, conflicts may result (Townsley, 2008). The other source of conflict is the unequal distribution of resource among the employees. Thai take when other employees are preferred to other causing conflict.
Stereotyping causes a person to have formed opinion about others or colleagues, and most of the time it is through rushed judgment or judgment based on given notions. Due to this, people tend to have biased judgments or behaviors towards people belonging to other groups or department or even their own colleagues. For instance, in majority of the organizations in the United Kingdom, employees tend to exhibit distorted or skewed behavior and attitude towards other individuals who come from other races. This leads numerous interpersonal problems and issues in organizations.
To resolve a given conflict, management needs to determine the major reason behind the conflict. There are various reasons that can cause conflict and so thorough investigation is vital in finding the root of cause of a given conflict. Among the factors that lead to conflicts is lack of proper communication among employee or between employee and management. The other factor that may lead to conflict in organizations is organizational structure and communication system in an organization. Lack of proper leadership and flow of information is among the factors.
Human beings’ exploitative nature
In organizations, many people always come across a group of individuals who tend to abuse others by virtue of their authority or position. Consequently, they try to take a gratuitous share in the outcome, despite their contributions not being in proportion to that level. Naturally, this would bring about interpersonal conflicts in the long-run. For example, some organizations and departments’ heads may claim an authorship in the scientists’ publications working under them, despite the fact that they did not contribute anything to that work (Capozzoli, 1999). This is a typical example for this kind of interpersonal conflict. Actually, in some organizations, it has become a regulation that the Heads’ names should be included in each and every publication. This has caused various conflicts.
Conflict resolution strategies
There are various approaches that can be used to tackle a given conflict. The strategies employed depend on the nature of conflicts. The team leader ought to approach the members directly, the members who are responsible for the issues, discus their problems and advice them accordingly. In this case, constructive criticism plays a vital role. Suppose a member has a better solution to a given conflict, the team leader has to give the member a chance to propose his ideas (Gratton &Townsley 2007).
There are procedures that ought to be followed when resolving a conflict in an organization. The standard rules assist in making informed decisions. The rules are to be followed by every member and any changes are to be communicated to all members. A team leader for effective conflict resolution should never force an employee to follow a new rule as this can create various misunderstanding and feeling of oppression by the employee (Whitney, 2008). Excessive power can cause the employee to resist the rules or the team leader.
Some conflicts are to be ignored for their resolutions. As stated by Brooks (2001), some problems are minor and should not be mentioned either and use of power in such cases results to destructive results. This indicates that a good leader should not involve him in some problems and allow the members or employee to resolve the problems amongst themselves (Capozzoli, 1995). The team leader only needs to provide an environment for its resolution and at times this makes it easier and convenient when the members come to a mutual understanding than being forced to make a decision (Townsley, 2008).
The other resolution technique is through discussions. The optimal objective in conflict resolution is creating a win-win solution for all parties involved. This outcome is not possible in all cases, and most of the time, the team leaders’ goals have been to manage the conflicts in a less destructive way (Gratton and Erickson, 2007). The team leaders have also been concerned with lessening the perpetual differences that exists between the involved parties. A team leader has to discuss the problems as faced by the employees and design methods of resolving them. It is through discussions that mutual understandings are arrived at. The members and the management also feel that their decisions are taken in so a feeling of togetherness. In team conflict resolution, an emphasis has to be placed on how members perceive themselves (Brooks, 2001). This forms a basis on how a given conflict can be resolved. The mediator or the person resolving the conflict has to be neutral and not connected to any party or its interest. A resolution is reached only when all the party’s issues are properly addressed. Suppose a discussion between two members or between employee and the management does not yield any fruit, then it is advisable to involve a third party before the management makes a ruling. In advanced cases, a whole team may be involved to make a final decision on a given issue (Reimold 2007). Suppose this method does not work also, then it becomes necessary for the management to make a ruling based on the organization rules.
Strategies UNITE may adopt deal with conflict resolution
- Formation of various team leaders in organizations
The main responsibility of a team leader is to resolve the conflicts in ways that they are not to affect the actual aim of the team. In the present situations, organizations are facing stiff competitions to manage the project of teams. Making the right decisions is vital in every project and the team leaders should do this. Brooke (2001) also affirms that the main objective of a team leader is to resolve its conflicts and attain its goals. Suppose UNITE increases its team leaders, various people with different experiences, different attitudes and power will reduce conflicts in organizations. Decision makings are affected by conflicts in any team, so the importance of choosing suitable members to be team leaders.
- Improve employees’ self awareness
UNITE should engage in campaigns to educate employees of their rights as this helps them to develop their personalities. It is through educating the employees that good relationships can be achieved (Capozzoli 1995). The improvement of the employees’ awareness on their rights and obligations can be done through forums and some educative program in an organization. Members are also to be encouraged to join any labor unions where they can freely address their concerns and work related issues.
- Partnership with various organizations and unions
Through partnership, UNITE can experience a mixture of diverse ages, talents and gender in various organizations. Through partnerships, UNITE will also be able to identify various policies attached to different organizations. Various organizations have employees from different races, ethical backgrounds, countries and cultural back grounds. Understanding each employee based in their beliefs and cultures are essential in their management. Employee relations are significant in a business setting and such information can be availed through an organizations’ management (Capozzoli, 1995). It is through partnership that UNITE can make proper decisions in dealing with a given conflict in a particular organization. This is easily achievable since UNITE will familiarize itself with the organization’s rule and terms of employments. Decisions are essential factors that determine the growth of an organization or even growth of an individual hence good UNITE is supposed to be fit in decision making of various organizations.
Decision making is an aspect that a person can undertake, a group of people or an organization and so the importance of understanding an organization’s rule (Hunt and Patricia, 1994). This means that there is a need to have consent or build consensus among the individuals affected by the decision; this is applicable only to groups or organizations since the individuals usually join forces in implementing conducting their business activities.
A decision is usually made basing on the prevailing conditions affecting the organization; it could be managerial, administrative or even operational (Whitney, 2008). Different problems require different decisions to be taken and thus there is need to define the problem or issue to be solved as either administrative or operational before an effective decision is taken (Hunt and Patricia, 1994). Without proper definition and clarification of the problem, it is definite that the decision to be taken will not be vital as the intended solution to the problem will be difficult achieve (Sabatier, 2007).
The implementation of the decisions is usually done after the establishment of the objectives set and the possible alternatives that may be adopted in case the postulated decisions may not be vital in the attainment of the set goals. Brooks (2001) states that there are certain issues that ought to be solved so as to make it possible for the firm to attain its set goals and also reduce the chances of aggression and misunderstandings among the members. Basing on this assertion, it becomes necessary that the managers and the leaders of the specific departments in the firms endorse the suitable alternatives to be undertakes; this has to be done with the consultations or seeking of consensus from all the concerned parties (Sabatier, 2007). A better understanding of employees and various organizations is therefore vital for conflict resolutions.
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