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Office conflicts

: Wednesday, September 13 - 2006 @ 11:36

by Emma V
And when you’re working eight hours a day, five days a week, it really makes sense to invest some time, energy, and skill into resolving what so many office workers misdiagnose as a bad case of ‘personality clash.’

Unfortunately, when this misdiagnosis eventuates limited efforts are made to identify the root cause, so that whatever actions are taken to correct the problem fail, and the situation festers.

An example:

Anna, 25, works in a design studio, as an account executive. She initially started off as a junior designer; however, her boss saw her glaring potential for client liaison and she was promoted to a more highly paid, executive position.

However, the studio manager continued to deride her for tiny administrative mistakes, and generally tried to ‘prove’ to the office that she wasn’t deserving of the new role.

Anna went through hell for six months, constantly trying to down play the condescending remarks and constant criticism. The situation became so stressful that she decided to find a new job and leave.

What the other office workers misdiagnosed as a “personality clash” was actually a severely overlooked issue of organizational conflict that the management failed to deal with. Using the term “Personality Clash” is a quick and inefficient way of glossing over important and serious issues which may not seem so obvious at first sight.

The issue at hand was one of organizational structure. The studio manager was actually unhappy with the new structure of the workplace as whole, and what she perceived as the new hierarchy. With the ‘junior designer’ now hierarchically higher than she, the manager no doubt felt threatened and unappreciated.

In this case, like so many, methods of communication need to be looked at within the whole workplace. Who answers to whom, and so on. These delicate power structures needed to be examined, and the attitudes about ‘owning power’ eradicated, for the effective functioning of the whole office.

Indeed ‘hierarchical power’ is a no-go zone for the new democratic work environments that are encouraged today. In a vastly different workplace from twenty years ago, communication, acceptance, resolution, and negotiation are the new catch words used in order to achieving efficiency and growth…. and harmony.

The basic signs of conflict in the office:
• Criticism directed unfairly, or unproductive criticism
• A hushed or deathly quiet atmosphere persists
• Meetings are conducted in ‘hub and spoke’ fashion
• Rumours run rampant
• Memos riddled with excessive justification, ‘we-they’ and ‘win-lose’ language
• Backstabbing is the first line of defense when accountability questioned
• Meetings drag on due to fear of accountability and lack of trust
• Paralysis By Analysis, eg: studying issues to death

If you feel like you are an unwilling part of a conflict that has been labeled ‘personality clash’ don’t hesitate to talk to your management or Human Resources team.

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Wednesday, September 13- 2006 @ 11:36 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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