Employees blamed management for the perceived lack of opportunities created by new employees, while management blamed employees for the lack of customer orders filled. This conflict seems to have reached a deadlock, as feelings are so volatile that effective communication is all but impossible. However, by considering some basic elements of communication, both management and employees can return to their previous level of effectiveness, and the Words Unlimited can become effective again.
Resolution and Recommendations
According to Sharland, the above situation is an example of conflict being suppressed. Nobody is willing to admit to making mistakes, with both management and employees blaming each other for the companys current situation. Communication is marked by resentment and blame, without any sector of the company attempting to understand the points of the other. This suppresses the creativity and intercultural effectiveness that were previous hallmarks of the company.
In order to remedy this, communication literature has been consulted. Kwintessential Ltd. For example names the key competencies and characteristics of intercultural communication as open-mindedness, inquisitiveness, patience and self-awareness. In Words Unlimiteds history, communication has been minimal, but what communication did occur was always respectful and interculturally viable. The current conflict is not culturally based, but can be resolved by means of the above characteristics. Both employees and managers should operate from a basis of particularly open-mindedness and patience. These will then encourage the inquisitiveness and self-awareness that has brought about the companys historical success.
Focusing particularly on management, Rob Johanssen provides some tips on effective communication within the workplace. He for example suggests that managers should “know their workplace negativity.” This means that the basis of the conflict should be investigated and clarified. In the case of Words Unlimited, managers and employees blame each other respectively for the negativity. This has resulted in the current negative situation, and this needs to be the focus of resolution.
Understanding this can help managers to resolve the conflict.
Johanssen also suggests that space should be allowed for workers to provide their input. In Words Unlimited, it has never been considered necessary to solicit employee input. Workers simply abided by company rules of excellence and were in general left to their own devices for completing orders. The responsibility of management was to issue accurate and regular payments according to the work completed. The system was simple and was not considered to need changing. The sudden influx of customers however changed this. In responding to change, the needs of existing workers were overlooked. The latter perceived the influx of workers as a lack of confidence in their own abilities.
To resolve this conflict, it is impractical to expect the global workforce to gather in one physical location. An online forum is therefore suggested, by means of which all persons could raise their opinions. The basis of this forum should be to create a no-blame environment, where both management and workers will “listen” to the others reasons for actions and feelings. The aim should be a better understanding of each viewpoint without instigating further conflict. This forum can then be a permanent addition to the companys operation, with workers allowed to add any input or suggestions that they feel necessary. The online nature of the forum allows for input at any time during a 24-hour day, and will open communication channels and reduce conflict.
Johanssen, Rob. Tips for Effective Workplace Communication. 2006, Sept 5. http://searchwarp.com/swa94412.htm
Kwintessential Ltd. Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace. 2008. http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/intercultural-communiction-global-workplace.html
Sharland, Alan. Workplace Communication and Conflict. 2008. http://www.communicationandconflict.com/workplace.html.