conflict and agnerSuperiors, sometime, come in a situation where they have to meet human and business expectations, simultaneously. Ignoring human expectations completely can have a negative influence on productivity and motivation of employees. If human expectations are not handled properly, a situation can easily be turned into a conflict which can harm the interests of a firm. The following case is a good example how a simple expectation of employees turned into a serious.

“The conflict took place in an Industrial unit in 2001 in Oman when the workers had to work longer hours 6 days a week to meet the level of production. During this period, the government announced a public holiday. According to the public law in Oman, companies had discretion to change the day of public holiday. Due to this discretionary power, employees of the plant went to the Plant Manger to announce a holiday on Thursday instead of Monday as announced by the government (Remember weekend in Oman is Thursday-Friday).

The Plant Manger arrogantly rejected employees’ suggestion and behaved rudely so much so that he told the team of the employees that he could find hundreds of employees like them. This behavior annoyed the employees so much that they informally decided they would not work overtime any more. The Plant Manager did not pay attention to the concept of informal power and grouping, which has been indicated in many studies. After the meeting with the Plant Manager, employees decided that they would not work overtime. After the scheduled holiday, employees came on the job on Tuesday and stopped working at the scheduled time at 4 O’clock, which shocked the management.

Next day, the General Manger rushed to the workshop to find out the issue. Employees told him about their grievance regarding the holiday-issue. General Manager apologized and promised that such requests would be considered seriously in the future and also promised that the Plant Manager would make an apology to all the workers for ignoring their harmless request and for showing rude behavior”

This is a very interesting conflict case which shows that harmless requests should not be rejected. The plant manager should have accepted the requests if it was not affecting the interests of the organizations. If he deemed it was not possible to change the day of the holiday, he must have given the reasons instead of creating a conflict situation. He should have appreciated that employees could not be so irrational that they did not understand if he had explained as to why he could not accede to their requests. The remarks that he could find hundreds of employees were completely unnecessary and annoying. These types of remarks can easily turn the neutral situation into a conflict.

General Manager rightly intervened in the problem and intelligently handled the situation by offering an apology and ensuring that the Plant Manager would follow his footsteps. If the General Manager had followed the opposite path and supported the Plant Manager could escalate the conflict instead of diffusing.

Managers must note that they must be sensitive to the culture and conventions of a country. In this case, it is clear that in Omani system it is very legitimate to change the day of public holiday. The above case also depicts that conflict can be resolved if timely action is taken.

The case is from my collected cases on conflict situations

Nadeem Yousaf

Uploaded on 9 June 2011

Conflict and Human Expectation