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 The word "conflict" originates from the Latin language; its literal translation means "collision", reflecting the complex web of the causes, dynamics, obstacles, parties, and development of conflicts. Conflicts are functionally inconsistent phenomena, and the parity of their positive and negative functions should be comprehensively considered and assessed in order to reach the beneficial resolution. Conflicts can be caused by a great variety of circumstances such as the deficiency of resources, unequal contributions of partners to business, mismanagement, misunderstanding, unequal treatment at work, dissatisfaction of basic needs and interests of employees, and so forth.

Further, the conflict under scrutiny has emerged in a medium size organization due to strained relationships between Sarah Williams, working to provide administrative support for three executives, and Jack Griffin, one of the company executives. The actual conflict can be defined as a consequence or an escalation of a latent conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin. Despite the fact that Ms. Williams often works overtime for the company to perform her administrative duties and Mr. Griffin’s personal tasks, she has not been promoted for her 3-year employment. Although Mr. Griffin occasionally buys Ms. Williams lunch when she gets his lunch, gives her gifts, and compliments on her appearance, she considers him to be responsible for her inadequate career growth and compensation. Moreover, using profanity and yelling at employees, Mr. Griffin creates extremely stressful working conditions for his subordinates. Feeling underappreciated and tired of the stressful environment created by Mr. Griffin, Ms. Williams filed a sexual harassment claim against Mr. Griffin.

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Today, the phenomenon of sexual harassment in the workplace encompasses such issues as gender-associated interpersonal violence, abusive supervision, discrimination, inadequate payments, vague and ineffective communication, inappropriate comments, utilization of deterrent practices, derogatory treatment, unwelcome sexual advances, and unwanted offensive sexual attention.  Manifestations of sexual harassment can be both physical and verbal. In accordance with the definition provided by Howard, cases of sexual harassment generally involve four elements: 1) a physical, verbal, or visual action; 2) “the action must be unwelcome or unwanted in the target’s view”; 3) the action must be sexual or sex-associated and related to the target’s sex; 4) “there has to be a tangible economic impact on the target or a severely negative impact on the target’s work performance or work environment”. Thus, Mr. Griffin’s behavior at work and specific attitude to Ms. Williams can be identified as sexual harassment.

Furthermore, sexual harassment significantly decreases the efficiency of an organization. Efficiently functioning organizations are associated with skilful, high qualified, goal-oriented, motivated and satisfied with rewards and career professionals. The effectiveness of employees’ performance is inextricably connected with their job satisfaction. However, a great number of surveys and focus groups have indicated that issues related to sexual harassment negatively influence employees’ job satisfaction, inducing conflicts between personnel and employers. Instead of promoting collaborative working environments, Mr. Griffin’s power-oriented behavior and increased attention to Ms. Williams led to conflicts and her inefficient work performance. 

In order to get better results and suit a situation, both HR professionals and senior managers should implement different flexible approaches to the resolution of the conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin. However, despite their complete awareness of Mr. Griffin’s behavior, they have opted out of the conflict resolution before annual benefits and bonuses associated with Mr. Griffin’s performance. Therefore, the task of addressing the original needs of Ms. Williams has been complicated by the executives’ unwillingness to be involved in the conflict resolution. Senior managers of the company failed to establish beneficial equilibrium between their organization’s goals and working conditions due to their insufficient leadership and conflict management styles. 

The conflict management styles are traditionally divided into the following categories: avoiding, accommodating, cooperative problem solving or collaborating, competing, and compromising. Participating in the conflict under scrutiny, the executives and HR managers chose the management styles according to their aims, personal traits, Mr. Griffin’s influence, and specific features of the situation. Their tactics appeared to be avoiding when they withdrew from the conflict and refused to discuss the matter with Mr. Griffin. These actions caused the conflict escalation and Ms. Williams’ sexual harassment claim against Mr. Griffin.

It is essential to reduce negative emotions of opponent parties. Such practices as positive estimation of some actions of an opponent, willingness and readiness for agreement, involvement of an authoritative person, the critical evaluation of the self, counterbalanced own behavior, etc. are generally effective in the conflict resolution. The conflict at the between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin can be resolved by different methods, but such an intervention as mediation appear to be the most efficient procedure.  

Although litigation can lead to the complete achievements of Ms. Williams’ goals, it is a costly practice of conflict resolution. Moreover, a lawsuit can negatively influence the company reputation in general and Mr. Griffin in particular and, consequently, decrease the business efficiency. In addition, although interests and goals of employers and employees are not identical, “they both benefit when the organization is strong and growing, providing employees with jobs and employers with profits”. Issues of irrelevant compensation, labor discipline, training, inappropriate working conditions, professional expertise, and social protection are typical for both senior managers and employees. These factors determine litigation as an inappropriate method of the conflict resolution.

Mediation is an efficient strategy of conflict resolution aimed at compromise. Mediation, at the most basic level is a practice in which an impartial facilitator intervenes in order to assist parties in resolving a conflict. Mediation involves a joint discussion of an issue conducted between the conflicting parties with possible participation of a neutral third party. The third party can operate the process of negotiations and evaluate the conflict while breaking it into separate problems and revealing the true interests of both parties. It can help the parties to reach procedural and substantial agreements, allocate the most significant issues, and provide the parties with constructive feedback.

Practices of mediation are generally designed to resolve conflicts neutralizing contradictions between the parties. In addition, mediation provides organization with an opportunity to solve conflicts without initiating criminal proceedings. The third party is involved to clarify causes of conflicts and suggests ideas for solutions to help the parties reach an agreement. Furthermore, according to Doherty & Guyler (2008), mediation is highly cost-effective in terms of the immediate renewal of performance and the restoration of working relationships and job satisfaction. Thus, the mediation is the most effective strategy to resolve the conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin. Mediation is an efficient strategy in the following conditions:

  1. A conflict is long-running; parties are unable to solve it due to the absence of arguments, means, and agreement-oriented initiatives;
  2. Both parties defend opposite, mutually exclusive interests and cannot come to a settlement;
  3. Both parties perceive a possible resolution, dynamics and causes of their conflict in different ways;
  4. A conflict is not intensive, but parties cannot make a mutually acceptable decision;
  5. Parties make an agreement, but conditions require an objective external supervision;
  6. A mediator is able to resolve a conflict so that both parties can be satisfied with his decision.

Taking into consideration the presence of the mentioned factors in the conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin, the conflict resolution through mediation is an effective strategy.

The other forms of involvement a third party are conciliation and arbitration. In conciliation, a third party does not make a proposal of conflict resolution. In arbitration, a neutral third party makes a decision. However, this strategy does not correspond to the executives’ goals because in arbitration, an outside party is empowered to make decisions on rights, wages, and benefits of employees. Thus, mediation in conjunction with a compromising tactic of the conflict resolution is the most beneficial practice under the given circumstances.

A compromising tactic is frequently implemented when the conflicting parties are not able to achieve full collaboration, but are still willing to make some progress toward their ultimate goals or take some actions to preserve the relationship. However, while resolving a conflict, the steady uncooperative relationships between parties frequently remain. They are expressed in negative opinions on an opponent and hostile emotions associated with him/her. In order to efficiently start resolving the conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin, it is necessary to soften their uncooperative environment. The main goal at this stage is to lower the intensity of negative emotions experienced in relation to an opponent. The process of conflict resolution assumes the assessment of purposes and interests of both parties. If opponents aspire to resolve the conflict, they should concentrate on their goals and interests, instead of focusing on personal qualities of an opponent. Impartial and open minded evaluation of a problem, the ascertainment of the essence of contradictions, and parties’ abilities to identify and recognize the main issues promote a successful conflict resolution. The accentuation of attention to less significant problems, self-oriented behavior, and the absence of mutual understanding reduce opportunities to resolve the conflict successfully. When the parties unite efforts on conflict resolution, they should take into consideration their official statuses (official positions). A subordinate should realize limits of concessions which are presumed by his/her opponent. Enormously radical requirements can provoke a return to antagonism and exaggerate contradictions.

In order to properly deal with the matter, resolve the conflict successfully, and prevent its escalation into a lawsuit, the executives and HR Director of the company should re-evaluate their managerial practices. The situation has been aggravated by the specific leadership style and managerial practices of the executives and HR Director of the organization. A manager is an individual who manages employees, makes administrative decisions, and bears responsibility for them. It is assumed that, irrespective of spheres and industries, senior managers as leaders should be able to promote their business unit’s efficiency, organizational culture, and economic agility.  Leadership is a process that occurs in a group setting. Today, leadership is identified as a phenomenon that can occur in various places within an organization or business unit and is no longer focused only on formal leadership roles.

Furthermore, the role of leaders is not restricted to one or two things; rather, leaders can initiate and be involved in organizational changes, among other possible roles. Despite differences in leadership styles, all effective leaders are characterized by self-confidence, respect for associates and partners, openness to their input and ideas, discernment, competence, creativity, and loyalty. Effective business leaders should be able to deal with diverse issues, complexity, change, and uncertainty, be high tech and high touch, work independently and interdependently, and consider people the highest value.

Today, senior managers of companies face constant challenges of using a flexible and rational approach to a business unit’s personnel, providing optimal solutions to any issue, and manipulating financial, natural and technological resources of a company in order to avoid costly actions resulting from litigation. Contemporary managerial practices should be aimed at the right balance between business interests of different levels and employees’ needs taking into consideration gender-associated restrictions. Modern management is steadily becoming more complicated than the traditional models applied in all branches and spheres of life within many decades.

The company executives and HR practitioners should promote a strategy of the consent, search, and augmentation of common interests in order to prevent the emergence of conflicts in the future. In addition, the appropriate financial rewards can encourage and motivate Ms. Williams as well. According to expectancy theory designed by Vroom, correlations between effort–performance expectancy and performance–outcome expectancy have a considerable influence on the behavior and motivation of an individual. People are motivated to choose activities that have the greatest chance of producing desired outcomes and rewards. If organizational rewards are perceived by Ms. Williams as adequate and fair, she will be motivated to relinquish her action.

Ms. Williams identifies her career promotion and salary as inadequate for her personal contribution to the company’s performance. Thus, the senior managers of the organization should modify their payment policy. Wages and salaries are the basic sources of income; thus, they are closely connected with the population’s standard of living. A cadre which comprises of more competent and better-prepared employees is crucial to all organizations and business units. The relationships between employees and their supervisors in all types of occupations are critical elements that affect employees. Financial inability to motivate experienced and skillful employees may lead to failure in managerial practices of recruitment and retaining. Inadequate salaries are the most influential contributing factor to the escalation of conflicts.The executives and HR Director should design a pertinent reward program including a comprehensive compensation package, an inclusive, respectful and equitable workplace, along with an integrated system of broad corporate training, cash bonuses and competitive pay. 

Ms. Williams complained to the human resources department about Mr. Griffin’s behavior and was advised to address the issues directly with Mr. Griffin. Taking into consideration the fact, that the company executives cannot effectively handle the matter of the conflict between Ms. Williams and Mr. Griffin, it is imperative to involve a mediator. Third-party interveners provide information about the proposed process and promote it to the parties. Mediation can be both formal and informal. Formal or official mediation assumes the presence of the official status or powers to influence opponents. Further, official mediators are representatives of interstate organizations, official institutions, governmental or other national and federal commissions, public organizations, and labor unions. Senior managers of a business unit can also act as official mediators. Informal mediation allows parties to involve an authoritative person capable of resolving similar conflicts. Irrespective of his/her status, a mediator should be recognized and approved by both parties. Ms. Williams filed a sexual harassment claim against Mr. Griffin; consequently a formal/official mediator should resolve this conflict. The involvement of a third party, an authoritative mediator or labor union leader in the conflict resolution can significantly influence the company seniors to handle this matter and assist the parties in resolving their conflict. 

A labor union, trade union, or staff association “is a formal association of workers that promote the interests of its members through collective action”. Labor unions are primarily involved in the process of regulations of social and labor relations. Labor unions have become one of the basic social institutions. Therefore, requirements posed by labor unions and their activities can be identified as the most influential initiatives. The main goals of labor unions include protection of workers’ interests and rights. Thus, their participation in the conflict resolution is justified by their authority.

Employees are generally recognized as the most significant resource of any organization today; however, they can be rather complicated objects of management due to their personal characteristics, needs, requirements, skills, qualifications, and job responsibilities. Collaborative initiatives of labor unions can require the executives and HR Director to modify their personnel-oriented policies, monitor the efficacy of labor relations within their organization, resolve emerging conflicts, develop new efficient managerial practices, and consistently implement them in order to promote an organization’s success and profitability. Collaborating with the executives and HR Director, a mediator can be able to develop and consistently implement strategies to resolve the conflict in order to avoid litigation.

In addition, in order to prevent the occurrence of conflicts related to sexual harassment, the executives of the company can implement the following practices:

  1. Identification of manifestations of sexual harassment at work.
  2. Development of a policy statement against sexual harassment with clearly determined penalties.
  3. Development of the honor code of professional conduct.

In conclusion, in order to prevent conflicts and increase profitability of business performance, organizations should provide their staff with equal opportunities regardless of their race, origin, gender, age, religious beliefs, marital or any other status or condition.

Code: writers15

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