Workplace Conflict: Observing the Line of Function
The Conflict: The case is about two managers who had a misunderstanding because one of stepped on the jurisdiction of the other. Manager A is in charge of Operations, while Manager B is in charge of Marketing. However, Manager A felt that he has a bright idea that can help with the marketing of the company and its offerings. He drafted a proposal and sent it to the Board for approval. While the Board approved it, the draft was sent back to the Marketing office for further evaluation and, later, implementation. This led the draft to the Marketing Manager who felt bad that a manager of another department was doing his duty behind his back. Manager B read the draft and found the idea good, but he did not like that Manager A did not inform him of the proposal or the idea. He felt that it was his territory, and Manager A treaded on it. When asked, Manager A said that he did not say a word to Manager B about the proposal because he felt it was a good idea anyway, and that that he was afraid that Manager B will steal his bright idea.
Part II: In this case, I choose the side of Manager B. Manager A’s reason is not enough for him to bypass Manager B and his position.
Part III: Before the negotiations, Manager B spoke with the representative of the Board who gave him a copy of the draft. From him he found out that the draft came from Manager A and that it was intended for implementation by the Marketing Department prior to the department’s feasibility study. After establishing these facts, he seeks the help of the Human Resources Department with the case. The Human Resources Department representative made a written report of the grievance raised by Manager B. He then set a conference with the two managers.
Manager B was rather emotional at the conference, stating that his experience and length of service in the company should have earned him respect from his colleagues.
Manager A was rather relaxed, and surprised in most part of the conference. He says that all he wanted was to help the company grow. He felt that Manager B was prohibiting him from doing so.
The Human Relations Department representative was writing everything down while the conference was ongoing. From her notes, she formulated a negotiation plan for the two managers. She started by asking each of their expectations with the negotiation and between the two of them. Manager A said he would like to give a hand to other departments, while Manager B wanted a strict compliance of the line of function in the company.
The representative offered the managers solutions. Manager A was advised that he may continue formulating plans and contributing to other departments, but he has to get proper endorsement and acceptance by the head of the department he is assisting. He was told that if the department declines his offer, he cannot insist on his ideas. He was also told that he can apply his ideas to his department as well. Manager B, on the other hand, was assured that the line of function is being followed strictly. As a proof, the draft which was already approved by the Board was still given back to his department for further study. Both managers were amenable to the proposals of the representative.
The negotiations were effective. Before the negotiation, Manager B was emotional. He cannot accept the outstanding idea of Manager A just because he felt he was bypassing and offending him. Manager A was indifferent, not knowing that a grievance is already being cooked up against him by Manager B. During the negotiations, the discussions were heated, especially on the part of Manager B. But as the discussion progressed, the representative was able calm Manager B and create an agreement between the two. After the negotiations, the managers are back at work, though Manager B still feels bad about what happened.