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Employee Relations - Conflict Resolution

Assume that you are an employee relations specialist in your company. The supervisor who is responsible for this project comes to you asking for your advice for the following issue.

Members of the group have been assigned to different tasks while completing the overall project. Ideally, all pieces of the puzzle will come together smoothly as they are completed. Kelly is working some overtime to ensure that her piece of the project is completed and to meet her deadlines. Donna is assigned to a different piece of the project but does not reflect any sense of urgency. Kelly does not appreciate the approach Donna is taking when attempting to work on her tasks. Kelly is becoming quite frustrated that Donna is barely meeting her personal deadlines.

Kelly comes into work to find out that Donna is taking the weekend off for vacation. Kelly is angry because she is already working overtime, and now she must cover for Donna this weekend.

If no one complains to you as the manager, how would you sense that a conflict is, in fact, brewing? Who is the problem owner?

Discuss problem ownership in which you address the following:

Is your own behavior causing the problem?
Is this a real issue?
What are the assumptions and are they true?
Is Donna aware of her own actions?

From an Employee Relations Specialist perspective, what recommendations do you provide management?
What strategies would you suggest for this situation?
Would understanding problem ownership be helpful advice to give to management? Why or why not?

Solution Preview

In this case, I do not believe my own behavior as employee relations specialist is the cause of the problem, due to the fact that I was not aware of the problem until it was presented to me by Kelly. But I do believe that it is my job as employee relations specialist, to observe employee interactions closely, in order to ascertain if there are any noticeable problems, which would give me the information to proactively develop the means in which to alleviate the problems before they grow more serious.

I do believe that the issue of Donna's apparent lack of commitment and effort to the ...