Conflicts in an organization impact the employees and the organization itself in a variety of ways. It is a constant hindrance in organizational life due to conflicting goals between managers and workers. In definition, conflict is “the interaction of interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and interference from one another in achieving those goals” (George 287). While most individuals perceive conflict as being a negative aspect in a working relationship, others believe it “allows the opportunity to release built-up tension, stimulate critical thinking, and strengthen relationships” (George 287). I extensively observed the conflicts at Noah’s Ark Preschool and found these conflicts to have both positive and negative effects on the organization and its employees. During my evaluation I focused on how conflicts emerged, how they were managed, and in what ways the organization could improve its conflict management skills.
The first step in resolving organizational conflict is to consider the typical sources of conflict (Donais). The sources of conflict are infinite, but some are recurrent and persistent. Poor communication skills can stimulate conflict and lead to misunderstandings between employees or between employee and manager. While conducting my interview, I learned the director of Noah’s Ark, Regina, is frequently vague and inconsistent with instructions. One employee described a situation in which Regina allowed the employees to wear shorts one afternoon—which is against dress code— but disciplined them for wearing shorts the next day. In this situation, lack of communication and information from employer to employee caused a misinterpretation of rules the organization routinely abides by.
A difference in personalities among employees is another source of workplace conflict (Johnson). When employees are unsuccessful in understanding or accepting personality differences, problems arise. For example, when asked in the interview if she had encountered a conflict with a fellow employee, Angie said, “Of course! I am a confrontational person. Some say I come off too strong, others say they prefer me to be straightforward, guess it just depends on the person.” In contrast, another employee, Theresa, stated she would rather handle conflict in a covert manner. “I feel there are other ways to handle conflict than through intimidation and coercion. I like to let the problem die down; it will eventually fix itself.” For example, Theresa requested time-off in order to study for finals and gave Regina a three weeks notice. Subsequently, Angie demanded she also needed time-off from the same days for vacation. Because Theresa is younger and more introverted, she felt she needed to withdraw her request even though she asked to be off first. Because Angie and Theresa have different styles on approaching conflict, they are inclined to experience an encounter in the workplace.
Another common source of conflict I found in Noah’s Ark...