A Case Study on Organizational Behavior in Rhandwana High School
Category : Case Studies Samples, Organizational Behaviour
A Case Study on Organizational Behavior in Rhandwana High School
This case study aims to propose solutions regarding the conflict between the two staff of Randwhana High School. To better understand the current predicament, the types and causes of conflicts between the two were presented in this paper. Additionally, theories and studies that may shed light on such behaviors were cited. Each issue is studied thoroughly and solutions are presented herewith. Recommendations on conflict management and decision making are also included as they are deemed necessary in addressing the problem at hand.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents.........................................................................................2
Causes and Conflicts..........................................................................5
Organizational Change ........................................................................9
Identifying the Nature of Conflict..........................................................12
Encouraging Organizational Commitment............................................14
The principal of Rhandwana High School is faced with the problem of settling the dispute between two of his staff. His undertaking requires the accumulation of the accurate and unbiased information that will enable him to decide fairly. To begin with, it is necessary that the causes of conflict be traced to understand the impending hostilities among the two. There are various factors that underlie the emerging conflict between the two laboratory staff. The causes can be rooted from the personal perceptions they have towards each other, professional jealousy and rivalry. All of which led to the inefficient working condition that is not mutually beneficial to both of them. Given this, the principal is compelled to make decision whether or not the arrangement will be renewed or revised. Ultimately, the settlement of the dispute is dependent on the principal’s ability to persuade his staff to come up with an arrangement that will benefit them both and the school as well.
The conflict between the Martin and Cheryl can be attributed to the staff shortage in Rhandwana High School. Because of the limited labor force they have, the staffs are compelled to allot free hours to perform their duties without compromising the security of the school and the quality of their work. With the present situation, the school is urged to adjust and undergo organizational changes to maximize the time and the workforce. This led to the assignment of Cheryl to the Biology laboratory that is supervised by Martin. The two clearly have previous hostilities with each other that affected their work. With the arrangement implemented by the principal, more problems arise especially on the part of Cheryl. As it turned out, the arrangement was not mutually beneficial to both of them. In turn, the principal is faced with the dilemma of keeping the status quo or reviewing it. In finding a firm resolve to this problem, there are various aspects that need to be given consideration. Among this is the cause of the conflict and the proper approach that should be done by the principal. Additionally, the ability of the principal to lead his subordinates, persuade them to act collectively and encourage commitment are the points that needed to be given focus. Ultimately, the settlement of the conflict is dependent on his ability to encourage a negotiation and make unbiased decisions.
Randwhana High School is a large high school with 2000 students and a limited number of part time and full time teachers. With the lack of staff, the principal faces the task of allocating duties in the most efficient ways. At most instances, his decisions result to a deal of hostility with the teachers. In this particular case, the principal is faced with a conflict between the two staffs of the school’s laboratory ().
The need to address the conflict and uphold equity was an issue of deep concern for the principal. His unawareness of the nature of the problem makes it difficult for him to come up with a resolute decision. Thus, there is a compelling need to acquire the sides of both the parties involve and implement the necessary adjustments or changes that shall be agreed upon.
The Conflicts and its Causes
A conflict between the two laboratory staffs came about after they were designated to work together in one of the laboratories. Martin who is the officer in charge for the laboratories needed a replacement for his assistant who resigned. Cheryl on the other hand, is a sole laboratory assistant in the physics laboratory. The principal of the school decided to assign Cheryl to work under Martin as a part time assistant on the Biology laboratory while concurrently managing the Physics laboratory. The set up was a 6 month trial which is subject for confirmation or renewal based on the affectivity of the arrangement. Cheryl was reluctant to accept the arrangement but since she was not willing to risk losing her job, she accepted it anyway ().
However, the arrangement seemed ineffective on the part of Cheryl. She had a hard time balancing her time for the biology and the physics laboratory. Consequently, the work she had to do in the Physics laboratory which she has sole responsibility of was compromised. She knew for a fact that her performance on the laboratory was an indicator of her annual appraisal and thus her inability to attend to it based on her own standards may reflect inefficiency on her part ().
Martin who was in charge of the Biology laboratory was very set in his standards. Because he is the supervisor of Cheryl, the latter is compelled to work based on the standards made by Martin. It was increasingly difficult though for her to mange the 15 hour allotted for the laboratory because of the demanding attitude of Martin. She felt that he was being difficult to her in purpose and that he wanted her out of the school. The hostility of Martin was rooted 7 years ago when the latter took a maternity leave. Martin was particularly irritated by that and expressed disapproval of married women trying to combine their housewives roles with their careers ().
The impressions that both Martin and Cheryl had towards each other is a barrier to the precise perception of their behavior. At most cases, the good deal of importance is placed on the first impression created to other people. Because of this, people remember the first impression given and attached to others and consequently refuse to change those initial impressions. The error committed is that the observance of the brief behavior is perceived as a reflection of the whole personality of an individual (2002).
Another issue was that of professional jealousy. Cheryl is a degree holder in the field of Science while Martin only had his training in the workplace as an assistant. According to micro theory, rivalry is a dominant form of conflict in the organization. This can be rooted from competition of resources for projects and the status based competition between the specialists from different disciplines (2002).
Martin’s attitude can be interpreted based on these given theories. The professional advantage of Cheryl against him in terms of educational background is a threat which he confronts through his current position. Similarly, the perception of Cheryl towards Martin being a demanding boss makes it intolerable for her working for him. Martin’s dislike and stereotyping of women like Cheryl was also a barrier in making the right perception to her.
Basically, these reasons have become the causes of conflict between the two. And since the arrangement was working only to Martin’s advantage, Cheryl felt the need of informing Jess, the principal, about the set up. Surprisingly though, Martin reported the arrangement was effective and thus prompting the principal to confirm and renew it. Cheryl disproves the renewal and asked the principal to review the arrangement. As a result, Martin became less friendly to Cheryl though she tried to become obedient and efficient with her work ( ).
The complaint raised by Cheryl rooted from the inequity of the arrangement. On her part, she felt it was disadvantageous since her work in the Physics laboratory is sacrificed. Her performance on the laboratory which she was solely responsible determines her annual appraisal. Because of this, she felt it was unfair for her to work on the Biology laboratory since the work she does there was credited on Martin’s part. The Equity theory by (1963) ‘links the satisfaction to a person’s comparison of his or her own perceived ratio of inputs to outcomes to another ratio of inputs to outcomes implied a link between the evaluation of an experience and resulting satisfaction’. (1969) considered satisfaction explicitly as an emotion. He argued that emotions such as satisfaction result from evaluations “similar to the current concept of “cognitive appraisal” (2003).
- Leadership Approaches
Leaders are able to affect the feelings of their subordinates in various ways. ‘Leaders who feel excited, enthusiastic, and energetic themselves are likely to similarly energize their followers, as are leaders who feel distressed and hostile likely to negatively activate their followers’ (2002).
Based on the transformational leadership, the leaders have the capacity to arouse strong emotions to their subordinates. The positive responsiveness to change and ability to induce it requires the principal a transformational leadership. Moreover, this can be extended by transactional approaches wherein charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual simulation, and individualized consideration can be employed. Such approaches are seen to "motivate followers to work for transcendental goals and for higher level self-actualizing needs instead of immediate self-interests" ( 1995). By addressing the needs of the subordinates in relation to their performance goals, the leadership skills are increased.
Leadership skills are essential to the proper management of an organization. The acts of leadership are those activities that define the destination of the organization while acts of management are necessary for making that trip happen. These skills must be incorporated to lead and at the same time manage the organization (1999). The task of leading an organization entails the ability to make sound decisions, manage conflicts and changes and most importantly to motivate the employees to work together for collective goals. This undertaking requires tremendous effort on the part of the principal. The existing conflict between his staffs challenges his ability as a leader and because of this, he had to come up with the resolutions that will benefit the majority.
- Organizational Change
The resolution of the conflict is dependent on the approach that the principal shall undertake in decision making. Martin believed that the status quo was working well and shall be renewed. Cheryl on the other hand, objected and insisted on reviewing the arrangement. Based on the Organizational theory, choices are made between maintaining the status quo and introducing a change. In this case, there is a contrasting opinion between the parties involved. The resistance to change by the organizations is brought about by the expenditure of energy that could be devoted in attaining the existing goal (2002).
The most fundamental concern in change is the process of change itself. It is associated with the notion of routine disruption, undermining relationships and requiring learning (1995). With this premise, it becomes extremely difficult to introduce change especially to individuals who have become accustomed to their work. Like in the case of Cheryl, her resistance on the arrangement can be attributed to the fact that she was comfortable working on her own. Thus, the set up made between her and Martin has become increasingly difficult to handle.
Organizational changes are aimed towards general goals. One of the objectives for implementing organizational change is to introduce changes in the internal behavioral patterns of the employees. Apparently the organization cannot control changes brought about the external environment and so they continually introduce internal changes in reaction to these pressures. The level of adaptation by the organization is improved only if the employees behave differently in relationship with their co workers and their jobs. Basically, the people are the decision makers in the organization. In any change within the organization, new patterns of behavior and ground rules are introduced for the employees that are adopted by them (1970).
Moreover, most managers regard change as something that may be stopped or started at will. According to Lewin’s model, change is both a freezing and unfreezing process. Like living systems, organizations have a tendency of maintaining a steady state. Change allows the movement of the organization from one state to another. However, organizational change can either be disruptive or adaptive. It is adaptive when the change shift to an advantageous state while it is deleterious if it shifts otherwise (1993).Thus, planning and control are to be considered to allow a transition on the changes to be implemented. There also should be assumptions made regarding the cause and effect of actions and the accurate predictions for the future (2004).
The top management holds the function of providing smooth transition to non optional changes that emerges from the environment. Thus, the principal is tasked between maintaining the present arrangement or changing it. In which case, he had to provide a transition for the two parties. The conflict between Cheryl and Martin arise because of the change in the former’s task assignment. However, the change did not prove to be mutually rewarding for them. With this, the principal would have to introduce another change in the internal set up and establish behavioral guidelines for both parties. Compliance shall be monitored in order to evaluate whether the new change is working for them and is beneficial for the school as well.
- Decision Making
To come up with a sound decision would entail the accumulation of accurate information regarding the issue. The differences among the staff can be minimized or eliminated through careful decision making and management. The concept of bounded rationality which was introduced by challenges the rationality of the communication process in an organization. According to him, the people who make decisions seldom have the accurate and complete information. Even as there is much available information, the likelihood is that they choose the first option rather than adopting other possible solutions (). In this particular case, the principal swiftly approved the renewal of the arrangement without consulting both the parties. As a result, he had made a decision based on the first information at hand and without consideration of the other party.
Inaccurate and incomplete information are likely to result in lapses in judgment. As the principal, Jess is required to accumulate the information necessary to assess the conflict. This entails competency in terms of interpersonal communication. Both parties are to be given the equal opportunity to give their views and present proposals in addressing the issue.
- Identifying the Nature of the Conflict
There are no people who are exactly alike. Because of the baggage of personal values, experiences, beliefs and perceptions, a clash on these values is likely to occur between individuals. Since conflict is inevitable, the workplace is not an exception to this (2002). The conflict between Martin and Cheryl needs to be assessed before coming up with a decision. Before the principal responds effectively to the problem, he has to understand the conflict. In an organization, various conflicts may arise that are caused by differences of opinion among individuals. While some conflict may be bad, others are beneficial to the organization as they introduce changes that may be adopted. Functional conflicts are constructive disagreements and can help improve the performance of the individual or group. They provide greater awareness of problems that lead to the enhancement of solutions that are adaptable to the employees. The morale of each individual is improved simply by releasing tensions and working together to address the problems (2002).
On the other hand, dysfunctional conflict is the destructive disagreement that occurs between two people. It focuses on the conflict itself rather than the work to be done. Moreover, this kind of conflict creates distorted perceptions, stereotyping, poor communication and decrease in productivity. This conflict is identifiable when the origin is emotional or behavioral. Personal anger and resentment that causes disagreements is dysfunctional (2002).
The conflict between Martin and Cheryl can be categorized as an interpersonal. Mainly, it has emerged from their personal differences. Solving this kind of conflict entails knowledge about the nature of the conflict. Enforcing a guideline for acceptable behavior can be done by the principal to deal with this kind of conflict. Similarly, Jess has to initiate a discussion between the two to settle their differences. This problem if not properly address is likely to affect them in the long run and the organization as a whole.
- Conflict Management
Conflict is perceived by many as a negative image. However, conflict is not inherently bad. In the school organization for example, there are always disagreement about the allocation of money for the maintenance and improvement of the classrooms aides. Conflict if managed well can lead to a healthy and constructive dialogue (1996).
Proper management of a conflict is essential to avoid the occurrence of dysfunctional conflicts. The conflict-resolution approach by (1976) can be adopted by the principal. The two factors to be considered in this approach are the degree of assertiveness and cooperativeness. These two distinguish the degree of extent by which both parties are willing to satisfy the needs of each other. By combining these factors, the principal can resort to five conflict resolution styles; avoiding, competing, compromising, collaborating and accommodating. Collaborative approaches are deemed most effective in generating positive outcomes because they meet both the needs of the parties involved. This is specifically applicable to merge the insights of the two parties and to acquire commitments through a consensus arrived at incorporating concerns of the parties (2002).
Both Cheryl and Martin have their individual issues against each other. After having to communicate their professional differences, the principal must establish an arrangement that is beneficial to both of them. A win-win solution is likely to occur if he is able to persuade his staff to compromise and engage in collaborative work. Evidently, the inability to mange her time was the core issue in Cheryl’s complaint. The principal thus should see the need to address this issue by altering the hours allotted to both the laboratories as stated in the first arrangement. On the other hand, Martin’s argument of allocating free hours is also another concern. While there is the need to maintain the security and quality of work in the school, the principal must also consider a change in this kind of culture so that the employees are able to work efficiently.
Encouraging Organizational Commitment
Organizational Commitment is an important work related attitude. It is an important factor in affecting collective action systems. The individuals with a high level of commitment can be motivated to act cooperatively towards a collective good. However, the existing condition of an individual is an important factor in encouraging commitment. As such can discourage or prevent an individual in breaking a commitment. In this particular case, Cheryl’s commitment to her present work is threatened because the condition with Martin. It is then the principal’s task to reinforce the commitment of his staff with their work by introducing a set of norms that shall be satisfactory to them. The principal and the staff should agree on a set of decision making principles. For staff members who are expected to work in a substantial period of time, a set of norms should be established. When the set of norms become acceptable and accustomed to the staff, they become motivated to impose sanction on those who break it and thus maintaining a credible commitment (1995).
There are several factors that contribute to the current predicament facing the principal. One of this is the lack of staff in the school that led to the assignment of Cheryl in the Physics and Biology Laboratories. Another factor is the hostility among the teachers and staff themselves as well as the principal. In this particular case between Martin and Cheryl, the nature of the conflict is rooted from personal differences and perceptions towards each other. Though hostilities towards co employees are inevitable, such actions should not be allowed to get in the way of the work. In assessing the outcome of the 6 month trial arranged by the three of them, it is crucial for the principal to alter the changes based on a consensus. Thus, it is only prudent that the principal get the accurate information and ask them for proposals. In this way, unbiased decisions will be avoided and the needs of both parties are taken into consideration. Ultimately, the settlement of this conflict is dependent on the principal’s ability to manage the conflict and implement change that shall cater to the objectives of the organization.
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