Essay On Foundations Of Social Work Interventions
During my final year graduation research report in 2013, I took the time to work as a social worker in my hometown. I came across Mr. John who is 45 years old man acting as a manager with a five-year history dealing with a problem of the social work. According to the interview, he sighted that he was going through a difficult situation at the organization where he mentioned that he was experiencing serious conflicts among his employees for over two (2) years. Despite our interview, Mr. John did not disclose or reveal the names of those employees. However, he was serious about his problem within his organization.
According to Mayer, (2012), work environment conflict is a clear type of conflict that happens in the workplace. Some of the conflicts arise from the personality clash, relationship conflict or diverse of ideas concerning certain tasks (or workplace task conflict). The conflicts that occur within the workplace may be elevated by the unique features of this environment. The nature of working hours employees spends at their work-place, the hierarchical structure of their organization, and the complexity, for example, financial consequences that can result through changing to a different work environment. With this respect, work environment shares more in similar with schools, for example, pre-college educational institutions whereby most of the students are less autonomous (or self-government), (Mayer, 2012).
Conflict within the work environment seems to be a serious fact of life. Majority of people have experienced situations whereby different people with different goals oriented and requirements have come into conflict, (Becker et al. 2006). Individuals have all often witnessed intense personal strong hostility that can result to conflicts in the workplace. However, organization leaders are responsible for establishing an environment that can allow people to develop rapidly and successfully. If serious battle, misunderstanding, and diverse opinion accumulate into conflict, as a leader, your role is to intervene immediately as much as possible. Note, intervening cannot be an option if you value your positive and your organizational culture. In managing conflict situations, mediation experience, skill and interventions are very significant.
According to Bowling et al. (2006), managing conflicts within the work environment is becoming a big challenge for most of the employers. In 2006 and 2007, the number of individual employment conflict that resulted in the employment tribunal increased to 134, 564 as compared with 119,538 for the previous years.
The greatest number of complaints is partly illustrated by the public’s increased awareness of employee’s rights and their recourse to litigate as well. There is no win or no fee; that lawyers can provide a platform to the employee who are dissatisfied to file a case against their employer at a zero cost, (Mayer, 2012).
Additionally, the establishment of new employment law in the previous years has increased to the challenges faced by employers. Since 2002, a new law concerning the employment has resulted into force avoiding discrimination on the ground of sexual, age, religion, orientation and belief.
Increased understanding- the discussion required to solve the conflict enhance people's awareness of the ongoing situation. Allowing them a deep intuitive understanding into how they can attain their objective without overlooking other people (Bowling et al. 2006).
Increased team cohesion- When there is a successful conflict resolution, the group members can create a greater mutual respect as well as restore faith in working together as a team.
Improved self-knowledge and experience
Conflict can cause individuals to evaluate their goals and objectives in close detail, which can allow them to understand the things that are most significant to them, improving their effectiveness and sharpening their understanding. Therefore, as a mediator it’s very significant to observe or take the following three steps into consideration while resolving conflicts within the workplace.
The use of active listening: During conflict resolution, the members engaged seem to spend most of their time talking to one another instead of listening. While every person is speaking, some people are spending time formulating their contradictions. In most cases, people judge others speech basing on their understanding or value, without putting their perspective into consideration, (Mayer, 2012). As this continues, many people choose to hear especially what they want rather than what the speaker tries to communicate.
A strong feeling derived from one's circumstances or moods can also interrupt the communication. When conflicts have accumulated emotionally, it becomes very complex or difficult to listen objectively. It appears to be the managers’ role as a mediator to listen objectively to each and every side. It is every important to ensure that all parties are listening and that every individual has a chance to state his or her opinions or ideas (Becker et al. 2006). The mediator can do this by only asking open-ended questions, expressing empathy for each side, applying feedback to the things understood, maintaining emotions under self-control and showing non-judgmental (Becker et al. 2006).
Deal with conflict collaboratively: it better to involve all parties in a neutral environment in order to establish a conflict resolution. Ask questions to each such that they provide a written statement before describing their situation respectively. These written statements will help you as a mediator to get insight into the possible cause of the conflicts at the workplace (Bowling et al. 2006).
During the discussion, allow each party to tell his or her side of the “conflict” or situation without interference him/her. Examine and analyze the problem from each perspective and collaboratively create and develop solutions to that problem. The mediator must agree to meet the agreement to check on whether the solution you provided to the problem has a significant impact (Becker et al. 200).
Clearly state expectations for future behavior: it is advisable to describe the dangers carefully to the organization as result of work conflict and the outcomes for the future inappropriate behavior. It is very significant to consider your role as manager (mediator) in conflict resolution. The manager is supposed to remain impartial and treating disputants equally. He cannot involve himself in conflict resolution if he/she has preconceived ideas about what is wrong or right in such situation (Mayer, 2012). If the mediator discovers that he/she cannot treat disputes equally, and then that person must reassign the discussion of the conflict resolution to another person such as the chief executive officer (CEO), (Mayer, 2012).
Managing or resolving a conflict is such challenging situation, but as an experienced manager or supervisor of the organization, your role is according to your territory. Your commitment to effectively intervene sets the platform for your success (Becker et al. 2006). It is better to craft your workplace that allows the success of the people who work in the organization. Conflict resolution is considered as an example of ‘practice makes perfect.’
Discussion and Analysis of the problem
According to Becker et al. (2006), conflict in the working environment always happens every day and with our frantic activity or hectic, ever-changing workplace. Conflict in the workplace is common because people come from different backgrounds and different beliefs. In the global environment, every individual needs to realize and develop the necessary skills that can help him or her to manage conflict within the workplace productively. When conflict is controlled and managed, it can provide an opportunity for the entire environment to learn from each other and improve their working methods, and to establish a team solidarity, (Mayer, 2012). Managing work environment will allow us handle conflict confidently and get positive results.
There is a framework that consists of basic assumptions about the nature of the social environment and how it works and about the natural behavior of people and how they act within their workplace. Therefore, there are issues of opinion, gender, culture, class and other related problem that evoke conflicts among the employees as explained bellow:
Interpersonal Conflict arises due to opposing personalities as well as personality crashes that may be caused due to different factors such as envy, jealousy or something that seem to be simple. For example, one employee developing a personal dislike to another in the same organization. Preconceived opinion based on race, cultural, religious, opinion, and sexual differences also can lead to conflict at the workplace. Usually, personal conflicts can create gossip that can affect other people within the working environment (Bowling et al. 2006).
Structural Conflict: This may happen when departments have different requirements, and they are not in a position to compromise.
Communication Barriers: This is commonly happening in a workplace or organization that has branch offices due to the geographic location that makes constant and periodic communication possible.
Employees have different goals: This may occur when organizational departments have differing goals, and each organizational department is working independently in order to achieve its goals, (Becker et al. 2006).
Mutual dependence of departments: it also happens when two departments are dependent on each other, and as a result of failure of either department affects the other departments.
Role dissatisfaction: some organization departments may realize that they are not receiving enough recognition. This may evoke a conflict between individuals groups.
Dependence on Common resources: in a situation when two departments largely depend on common resources, conflict may be involved between individuals, (Bowling et al. 2006).
According to the principles and foundations of social work interventions and approaches, such as enhanced performance as well as productivity, gain cooperation from group members. Others include minimizing stress and preserving the integrity, resolve problems as quickly as possible, enhance relationships and teamwork, improve creativity, and finally, increase staff morale. Basing on those interventions, my advice to Mr. John would be:
Firstly, I would advise him to learn how to prevent and minimize conflict. As a manager, he must learn different ways of dealing with conflict within the workplace. For example, developing team management techniques on how the team will resolve the conflict if it does happen. This can help them to focus on the best resolution behaviors, and allow the group to a process that is available if necessary, (Mayer, 2012; Bowling et al. 2006).
Secondly, to manage and resolve conflict successfully, Mr. John must develop good communication skills. This can include establishing an open communication platform by encouraging employees to talk issues concerning work. Listening to employee’s complaints will develop an open environment. Ensure that you understand what employees are trying to point out in relation to the ongoing conflict by only asking questions and focusing on their opinions of the problem, (Bowling et al. 2006).
According to Bowling et al. (2006) and Mayer, (2012), the workplace conflict sometimes appears to be interpersonal. Therefore, it is very important for Mr. John to ask himself if it is possible that the situations at work are the catalyst. It may be due to the supervisor’s incompetent. Employees may have set to compete for rewards and recognition within the organization by their bosses, this can create conflict between them. Therefore, the feeling may be that the awards and recognition were not fairly distributed among them by the management. So, drilling to the cause of the conflict is so critical while resolving the situation, (Becker, 2006).
Finally, it is very important to focus critically on goals of both parties in an early process. Sometimes the conflict occurs from the goal misalignment, and if this is not covered and addressed up early, then it could reduce the problems at a later stage. If there are some new members who have joined the team, then it would be significant to revisit this exercise ounce again, (Bowling et al. 2006).
Summary of the experience gained
I learned that the principles of intervention play a very significant role in guiding the manager or the mediator while dealing with the conflict resolution within the workplace. For example, the principle of cooperation with the group members, enhanced relationships and teamwork, and improve creativity of the mediator will allow him to solve the conflict quickly within the organization.
Conclusion and Recommendation
In order to manage and solve conflicts effectively in the work environment, managers must be active to any situation that may hinder the success of the organization goals. In addition, he or she must understand his or her responsibilities in relation to others in the environment, (Mayer, 2012; Bowling et al. 2006). It is a recommendation that Mr. John as a manager learns how to manage conflict at work. It can be easier for him through identifying the following: the signs of conflict, the cause of the conflict, the people who are likely to conflict with another at the workplace.
Becker, D., Weyermann B., (2006). Sheet 4: Dealing with the Past, Toolkit: Gender, Conflict Transformation and the Psychosocial Approach. Bern: Swiss Development Co-operation, 28(2), 209-239.
This source offers a significant mechanism while dealing with the conflicts within the work environment. This source also helped me to better understand the possible alternative of dealing with conflicts within the organization. It gave an insight of how conflict occurs in an organization or workplace.
Bowling, N. A., &Beehr, T. A. (2006).Workplace harassment from the victim's perspective:
A theoretical model and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(5), 998-1012.
This source illustrated different forms of or types of conflict that can happen in a working environment. It also provided solutions to those conflicts as well as managing and resolving them. It was very useful in explaining how conflict can accumulate at work.
Mayer, Bernard (2012). The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bas. 9(12), 456-462.
This book helped me to better understand the principles and interventions that a manager can use to manage and solve conflicts. This book was also important in that it explained how to manage and resolve conflict at work place.