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Conflict: Productive and Destructive Dynamics in the Work Place

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By maya0022
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Module Four/Term Three: Applied Psychodynamics
Module code: FFCS403S4 ASC
Final Project
Final Essay: The project

Conflict: productive and destructive dynamics in the work place.

Conflict is a recurrent phenomenon in the workplace, its impact can have reverse effects and push people to either surpass themselves, or the contrary deteriorate. When you have individuals coming from all different backgrounds and beliefs merging together in the workplace, conflict is inevitable. There are the work-specific problems related to promotions, salary disparity, lack of recognition for achievement, or shared responsibility among a team. There are also more general issues with personal space and privacy; and then there are plain old personality conflicts.” In this reflective, observational and theory piece of essay, I will explore the topic of ‘Conflict’, as it is relevant to the organization in which I am working. I will include observations drawn from a fellow student’s workplace, and reflections on the process of undertaking the project. Also integrating the different aspects of my learning by adding relevant psychodynamic theory, to try and clarify my reflections and to make sense of this piece of work. Naturally, I will disguise the names of individuals and organizations for the purpose of confidentiality. Let me also add a little note to declare that English is not my first language.

The process of undertaking the project was not an easy task. What was required for this compelling work was to explore the different professions our fellow classmates do, discus around availability, and arrange the observations. With the distinctive and fascinating professions apparent in my class, the choice was rather thought provoking. At first I was more attracted to centralize my project towards a fellow classmate working in a Parish, in order to gain better knowledge and challenge my views. I forgot to mentioned why it would have been a challenge to my views, this is simply for the matter of fact that I am not religious. Unfortunately, as my choice of topic was guiding towards ‘conflict’, I estimated the pros and cons, which led me to reconsider my choice. After much consideration, I decided to undertake an observation at another fellow classmate’s workplace, which was quite different but did indeed, satisfy me in terms of ‘conflict’.

Conflicts occur at my own workplace inveterately. How to describe these conflicts in a way that doesn’t sound or seem too simplistic and paranoiac? As the conflicts I experienced at work seemed to me so juvenile and avoidable.
Let me start by explaining the big picture. I work in a nursery with children aged three to five years old. They are interdepartmental collaborations and intergroup collaborations apparent in my workplace. My line manager, who had only been employed three days after me, has been subject to a great extent of causerie. Her abilities to run the organization were not trusted by her subordinates, and they questioned her competences constantly. The staff was challenging her authority, they felt that she was unavailable and resented her excessive demand for better work practice. The staff felt that the organization was already at the highest control due to several Offsted visits. The line manager could certainly sense the overriding tensions, and as a result, she had put herself in a defensive position.

Initially, I resented my colleagues for adopting this peculiar behavior towards the new manager. I had the gut feeling that the manager was doing her best to avoid interpersonal conflicts and to affect the organization’s dynamics. To my own interpretation she showed commitment, she brought change and new ideas and wanted to raise the organization’s standards. Which to me can be the beginning of an interesting learning process. But conflict and disagreement inevitably came forth. Putting myself in my manager’s shoes was a natural action, as I like to think of myself as someone compassionate and empathic. Up until an incident happened, which putted me in a critical position. A child had broken an electronic computer at the nursery under my supervision. A nursery ratio for children aged three to five years old is one practitioner per eight children. The day of the incident, I was left alone with sixteen children for an hour. I was furious as this is precarious and the children’s safety was at risk. Subsequently, an investigation was in process in order to monitor my abilities to supervise children. When asked if this process was generally undertaken when electronic equipment gets damaged, she firmly said that she had some concerns about my abilities to supervise children. The principal reasons resonated in my mind, it made me more alert and assertive in my work and showed productive results.

This incident made the whole institution aware of the investigation been caring out on my part, thus stirring up curiosity among my colleagues, and resulting in intergroup communications. To my biggest surprise, and quite sincerely to the whole staff surprise, as if the manager thought her errors won’t be seen, I found out that she deliberately left me alone with sixteen children, as we were short staff that day she was asked by the head of operation to cover my colleague and help me. Instead, she let me work out ratio on my own. At this stage the initial sentiment I had towards my line manager was torn and blurred by so many equivocal emotions. When I was being questioned, at no point did she take into consideration the fact that the ratio was compromised. She made me feel so responsible and told me the children won’t have any ICT because of me. She so puerilely tried to make me feel remorse for something I didn’t do, in order to protect herself. At this point many conflicts occurred between my manager and myself.

Even in order for my fellow classmates to carry out their observations at my workplace, became a struggle. It initially was accorded and approved, but then she requested me to do extra actions. On one occasion, I contacted my work’s central office in order to gather information for a presentation required for my course, she made it clear to me that she disapproved this action. In my confusion I decided to talk to her about whether I had done something wrong by doing so, she insisted that I let go, affirming me that she won’t change her attitude towards me, even after what I had done. I had the strong feeling that any actions I undertook at my workplace was underestimated and overlooked. Thus resulting in conflicts anytime I felt she was being unfair, making me more defensive towards her. In my understanding, her attitude mirrored those of my colleagues. She had to contend, contest, litigate and confront her subordinates continually in order to prove her abilities to run the organization. Indeed it only struck me that my experience with her mirrored her experience with the staff after the conflicts occurred. Just as I felt underestimated and overlooked, she too must have felt systematically underestimated by my colleagues. She probably must have felt isolated and alone. Thus pushing her to adopt a defensive posture. She was

When I first arrived at my classmate’s workplace, which was a train station, to carry out my work observation, I was surprised to see the amount of jokes and kind mockery that filled the air. Everybody was quite relaxed and the environment was not hostile, at least not to the fore of my eyes. My class fellow was on the phone, sitting comfortably at her desk. As she sees me entering the office, she smiles. Two of her colleagues were sitting at the back, chatting with their feet over their office desks. At a subsequent time, my fellow classmate was eating a sandwich at her desk, which made me ask her whether she ever gets a chance to take a break throughout the day. She assertively replied to me that as she is in charge of assigning breaks, she doesn’t get a chance to have a break herself. On the phone, I presume with a colleague, she says, “You want sympathy? Sorry we don’t have that here.” When on the phone with another caller, the pitch of her tone seemed changed. She repeats what the person on the other line says, “where is everybody?” And then explains where staff is in a reluctant manner. This was of course just a defensive response to the extra work required of her. Albeit, she shows great empathic skills as she manages whether or not she can provide a colleague the extra support. At first glance, communication is made smoothly and on a rational level. A member of staff offers to explain how to create a driver’s document to his fellow workers, to which my classmate takes part. I noticed that most of the drivers coming in and out to register, were always expressing their regards to my classmate’s team, but the team did little back. She then kindly offers me tea, to which I opposed. She then left the office to get a cake that was brought from another fellow worker. When she came back a colleague suggested to gamble on the drivers that will arrive first. They were clearly turning their work duties into a game.

The pace in which the team was working was rather reposeful. At this stage of my observation, I felt quite envious of the pace she was working at, the relaxed atmosphere she was working in and the accommodating staff she was working with. Shortly after making that reflection a conflict occurred. A driver was clearly taking their time to make their way to the train, which made the office team rather furious. In the office, the staff only talked about the driver’s lateness, as it delayed many trains and cancelled one. After this conflict occurred, a manager had to “step up”, which is a term used when managers have to intervene when drivers are not at their respective positions on time. I had the privilege to witness a second conflict. The manager didn’t seem adequate for this role, he sent drivers to the wrong positions, and this inevitably provoked even more delays. Conflicts mean that people care enough to disagree strongly. But in my fellow classmate’s situation, it seemed that the drivers simply didn’t care much about the impact of their actions. By adopting such a disinclined attitude to work, the managers conveyed an indolent image of themselves. It was rather clear to me that the late drivers didn’t want to be there.

This paper will focus on three levels of conflict: prevention, definition, and resolution.

Work place has created an excellent environment for new ideas and thoughts to be created and developed. Oftentimes, with conflict, comes growth. The key towards "productive" conflict is understanding what conflict is and what types are appropriate and inappropriate. There are methods that can be practiced in the attempt to prevent work team conflicts. There are strategies the team leader can use to spot early signs of conflict. Prevention techniques can and should be used as soon as a team is established so that every member can help identify and prevent conflicts. Communication within the work place needs to be open and honest, giving everyone the opportunity to state their individual opinions. Fairness and respect for one another should always be focused on preventing conflicts between team members. The team leader should play the key role in preventing and resolving conflicts within a team. Leaders should manage altercations in their earliest stages so that they don't have a chance to erupt into a higher level of conflict. A good team leader should always be prepared to handle conflicts as best as they can in a professional and non-bias manner. The attitudes of members within a team can be the biggest cause of conflicts. Knowing this, they must be prepared to react professionally to other people's different personalities and opinions. Showing respect for one another will help ensure conflicts between members are productive, and not destructive. It is beneficial to a team to recognize the difference in cultural backgrounds between one another. They should not expect to all think alike and agree.…...

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