Managing Conflict and Workplace Relationships

Overview

The employee is clearly upset or angry because she perceives the rest of the members don’t want her in the group or, do not value here input. Before handling the situation it is important to acknowledge that the workplace is an open forum where different human characters converge and easily breed emotions such as frustrations and anger. In the work place, anger and frustration can be an instrument for change and improvement or a source of downfall for the entire outfit.

Conflict may occur in a number of situations at the work place including; an employee (s) in conflict with fellow employees, manager, a different organization or employees factions fighting with one another (Johnson & Axelrod, 2005, p. 75). More often than not, employee anger or frustration is an indication of something not working within the system and it is always a positive sign when it is expresses overtly.

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Handling the situation

A managerial position one hold comes with both supervisory and leadership responsibilities (Shearouse, 2011, p. 90). It is clear she wants a specific issue to be addressed what in this cases matters is that she has someone who listens to her grievances. The manager should therefore listen to the employee’s grievances and assure her that she will find a solution to her problem.

It is important for the manner to acknowledge that with new team members, the old order is bound to be disrupted and new dynamics are at play. The manager should assure the employee with an intention to solve the problem as soon as possible since such situations may prove destructive if not sorted promptly. While addressing the situation, the manager should bear in mind that other employees will be watching and his/her ability to show leadership greatly depends on the behaviour displayed.

In the case above, it is important for the manager to maintain calmness and approach the situation without any predetermined conclusions. Sometimes, approaching such a situation aggressively may lead to a fight-back or defending oneself which rarely solves issues.

Steps to ensure she is heard

Most employee anger and frustration situations require private discussions (O’Rourke & Collins, 2008, p. 44). Though it is only one aggrieved employee, the first step the manager has to take is convene an open session with the accused group including the complainant. The session must be held in camera though.

In the meeting, the manager should not interrupt. He/she should allow all members to talk freely and exhaustively so long as the discussion is respectful and professional. For those that won’t be willing to talk, the manager will encourage them using a firm but non-defensive tone, especially using questions.

After employees have aired their views, the manager should respond to their feelings first and leave the concerned issue for the time being. It is quite helpful at this stage for the manager to use empathy in his/her approach.

The manager must never try to prove that either side is wrong. He/she should strive to match both parties’ perceptions without necessarily pointing at which party is wrong. The manager should try to find a common ground between the two; something that both parties agree on. This meant to remind the members that they still work in the same group and for the same organization and cooperation among them is of utmost importance.

After the discussion is over it is important for the manager to check whether both parties still harbour ill feelings towards each other.

References

Johnson, R. & Axelrod, L. (2005). Turning conflict into profit: a roadmap for resolving personal and Organizational Disputes. New York: Routledge.

O’Rourke, J. & Collins, S. (2008). Managing Conflict and Workplace Relationships. New York: Cengage Learning.

Shearouse, S. (2011). Conflict 101: A Manager’s Guide to Resolving Problems So Everyone Can get back to Work. London: Sage Publications.

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