A Case Study on Conflict Management
Shirley and Abdul both work for a software development company. The manager of the new product division was originally the leader of the project team for which she interviewed and hired Abdul. Shirley, another project team member, also interviewed Abdul, but strongly opposed hiring him for the project because she thought he was not competent to do the job.
Seven months after Abdul was hired, the manager left the project to start her own company and recommended that Abdul and Shirley serve as joint project leaders. Shirley agreed reluctantly?with the stipulation that it be made clear she was not working for Abdul. The General Manager consented; Shirley and Abdul were to share the project leadership.
Within a month Shirley was angry because Abdul was representing himself to others as the leader of the entire project and giving the impression that Shirley was working for him. Now Shirley and Abdul are meeting with you to see if you can resolve the conflict between them.
Shirley says: "Right after the joint leadership arrangement was reached with the General Manager, Abdul called a meeting of the project team without even consulting me about the time or content. He just told me when it was being held and said I should be there. At the meeting, Abdul reviewed everyone's duties line by line, including mine, treating me as just another team member working for him. He sends out letters and signs himself as project director, which obviously implies to others that I am working for him."
Abdul says: "Shirley is all hung up with feelings of power and titles. Just because I sign myself as project director doesn't mean she is working for me. I don't see anything to get excited about. What difference does it make? She is too sensitive about everything. I call a meeting and right away she thinks I'm trying to run everything. Shirley has other things to do?other projects to run?so she doesn't pay too much attention to this one. She mostly lets things slide. But when I take the initiative to set up a meeting, she starts jumping up and down about how I am trying to make her work for me."
Question Regarding This Conflict
1. Abdul and Shirley seem to have several conflicts occurring simultaneously. Identify as many of these individual conflicts as possible.
2. What are the possible ways to deal with the conflict between Abdul and Shirley (not just the ones that you would recommend, but all of the options)?
3. Given all the benefits of retrospection, what could or should have been done to avoid this conflict in the first place?
In this case scenario there are several issues between Shirley and Abdul. First and foremost, Shirley feels that Abdul is incompetent, thus her perceptions of his capabilities are skewed and there is a lack of respect to begin with. Shirley also seems to have an issue with titles and placement of authority (as Abdul mentions in his summation of the conflict).