Friday, October 30, 2015

Conflict in The Workplace

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. With the workplace being where many people spend large percentages of time, it is not immune to experiencing conflict. With many different people and varying ranks in a work environment dealing with problems at work can get a little messy. A well-displayed example of this comes from my favorite TV show - The Office.

In one particular episode, the business realizes they have surplus, and it must be spent by the end of or else that amount of money will deducted from the next quarter's budget. Once news of this spreads around the office, a debate forms over whether the surplus should be spent on a new copier or new chairs. The employees then have a series of arguments as people start to get heated over where this extra money will be spent.

The source of the problem can be seen in two ways. Either this problem was a result of good budgeting, a change of prices or something that has to do with the accounting and financial operations of the company, or it was caused by the two employees who suggested the copier and the chairs. One side believes that the company needs a new copier due to the fact that there's is outdated and they have to send out various documents that the copier produces and the quality of the copies could reflect on how they do business. On the other hand, those who support the chairs believe that an employee's comfort has a large impact on how they perform, and that a poor quality chair over an extended period of time could lead to back problems or other health issues. The initial reaction of the employees was to immediately take sides. Then, once teams had formed there were many debates on the issue. Consequently, each side started finding ways to "kiss up" to the boss in order to sway him to their side. Although in the show they were very over the top about it to add to its comedic value, I believe there some truth to it.

The conflict ended up being settled by the boss forcing them to choose. He made the employees aware that he could simply turn in the surplus and receive a 15% of the surplus as a bonus for saving the company money. Once the employees realized the situation they were able to finally decide and settle on the chairs. I feel that this way a good technique for getting the employees to come to a decision, even though he was disappointed he was not able to receive his bonus. I feel most likely this conflict was completely unavoidable. The surplus is something that naturally occurred and the office desperately needed two things. If the employees acted a little more maturely in the beginning, the conflict may have been less extreme. However, all in all at the end of the day they were able to make a decision and the conflict was resolved.

1 comment:

  1. I don't watch this show. So let me pose a question to get at whether this is really a good example of conflict are not. Did the way people in the office line up for one side of the argument or the other depend at all on past allegiances? Or was it all on the merits of the case this time around? People do disagree on the correct course of action in a give circumstance. Not all disagreement should be considered conflict.

    One test on whether it is conflict is whether people get angry about the matter and how their anger gets expressed. Was that part of the story on the show? Another test on conflict is whether they have a win at all costs approach or if they are willing to concede there is a legitimate alternative view to their own. The former we associate with conflict. The latter we do not. Finally, there is the issue of whether people bear a grudge or instead just move on.

    Those other pieces you could have added to your story to better get at whether it is a good example or not.