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Question

Conflict and resolution 

Important strategists such as classical China’s Sun Tzu and early modern Europe’s Clausewitz stressed that wise leaders must understand conflicts as they unfold. It is not enough to be involved in strife; the chance of a successful resolution is much higher if you can understand what started it, how it proceeded and how it ended—and whether that end is permanent or temporary. In this Assignment, you will consider a conflict you have witnessed and apply what you have learned to see it more clearly.

Answer

Conflict Resolution

In any given organization, conflicts are bound arise. This is due to individual differences and other factors that may lead to differences in opinions and thus conflicts. Escalation of conflicts within an organization may be catastrophic. The management should establish mechanisms for resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner to the satisfaction of all conflicting parties. Although conflicts may lead to the downfall of an organization, modern management theories suggest that a moderate level of conflict may actually be good for an organization. This paper will evaluate the recent conflicts at Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless recently faced conflicts involving striking workers and the company’s top management. The strike was called by two unions representing the workers – The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The strike was called after failed negotiations over workers’ wages between the unions and the management. This was an intergroup conflict which entails non-personal disagreements inherent in the organizational structure. Intergroup conflicts often entail salary wrangles between the union representing employees and the management. There are a number of powers at play. First, coercive power is at play. Coercive power is manifested through threats. For instance, the management may threaten striking employees on losing their jobs. At Verizon Communications, the management had warned the employees of dire consequences if they continued participating in the strike. Reward power is also at play. This is yielded by the management and may be effected through giving promotions, rewards, bonuses, and through other ways.

Through their unions, Verizon workers hoped they would receive a pay increment, benefits, fair treatment, and better terms and conditions of work. The workers have been involved in protracted negotiations with their employer through their labor unions for a period of time. When the management failed to yield to their demands, the workers resulted to strikes and picketing. This was meant to pressure the management to yield to their demands. The management hoped to retain the same level of salaries since a salary increment would reduce the company’s revenues from the management’s perspective. The management engaged in negotiations with workers and unions representing the workers in a bid to avert a looming crisis. When the parties involved failed to reach an agreement, the management threatened them with retrenchment if they engaged in strike. However through the unions, the employees still went on strike demanding for better terms of employment.

The conflict passed through a number of stages which are comparable to Pondy’s conflict resolution model. The first stage the conflict passed through was perceived stage. This is a stage where one of the parties involved in a conflict feels threated (Slack & Parent, 2006). In Verizon’s case, the workers felt frustrated due to the low wage received. Second stage the conflict passed through was felt conflict stage. At this stage, everyone involved in the conflict is aware and is disturbed in some way. At this stage, Verizon’s management was aware of the conflict with workers over pay dispute. The workers at this stage engaged the management over pay dispute with the hope that their grievances will be considered. The fourth stage is manifest conflict stage. This stage involves making appropriate responses depending on the outcomes of felt conflict stage (Slack & Parent, 2006). Since the parties did not reach an amicable solution during the felt conflict stage, Verizon workers resulted to strife during this stage. The next stage is conflict aftermath which represent the consequences depending on the decision taken. Verizon experienced negative repercussions since the workers decided to participate in the strike.

Related: Modernizing Structure

Compromise was the principal form of resolution that the parties achieved. From the Lecture Notes, compromise refers to a situation whereby parties involved in a conflict reach a mutually acceptable solution that is based on consideration of the issues raised by the parties involved. A compromise involves either of the parties involved getting a part of their demands. This is because a compromise entails a win and lose kind of situation whereby the parties involved do not get everything they hoped to achieve. In reaching a compromise, Verizon agreed to ward workers four-year contracts. These contracts will see a salary increment from the contentious 6.5 percent which was earlier proposed to about 11 percent increment (Scheiber, 2016). Additionally, Verizon agreed to review workers’ bonus payments as well as profit-sharing agreements. On the other hand, the workers were to return to work and abandon the strike with immediate effect. The workers also agreed to provide their services at the new stipulated rates and terms of service over the next four years which covers their contract period.

The management must be able to deal with conflicts as they emerge in the organization. During a conflict, various powers come in play which may impact the direction the conflict take. The management should aim at peacefully resolving a conflict and within the least possible period. This can avert strikes, resentment, and other negative repercussions that may arise due to conflicts in the organization. 

References

Scheiber, N. (2016). Verizon Strike to End as Both Sides Claim Victories on Key Points. The New York Times, P.A1.

Slack, T., & Parent, M. M. (2006). Understanding sport organizations: the application of organization theory. Leeds, Human Kinetics.

 

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