Case Study #1:
Conflict in the Office
Ramya Roa and Ann Scheck McAlearney
Trisha Olsen has been an assistant director at Liberty Research Hospital for the past seven years. She currently manages eight people in the protocol department, which is responsible for ensuring that all research studies are compliant with research regulations and institutional review board requirements. Unfortunately, the protocol department has a reputation for high turnover rates, and many workers are rumored to have left because of how they were treated bu their boss. However, two of the protocol specialists have been with the department for more than ten years, and these two specialists have been promoted to team leaders within the past year.
Recently, the department changed its approach to quality control, requiring greater involvement and oversight by different employees. Whereas the former process required circulation of work only among the protocol specialists, workers now must circulate their work, and have it reviewed by all coworkers, including team leaders. This new approach has introduced some tension within the department and raised issues about work quality that had not been raised in the past. Team leaders have become particularly critical of others’ work, and tl1ey have also been unhappy when their own work has been returned to them with others’ criticisms that needed to be addressed.
Yesterday, tension within the department was particularly high. Trisha was away at a meeting at the tin1e, but apparently Stephanie, a protocol specialist, and Bella, a team leader, were overheard arguing about whether a comment should be made in a database about a minor change in the research protocol. The argument was heated enough that coworkers started to pay attention, and Trisha heard rumors about the incident after she returned from her meeting. To make matters worse, both Stephanie and Bella then e-mailed Trisha to describe the situation and give their points of view.
Trisha wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. She knew that Bella had a history of getting into arguments with coworkers and could hold a grudge for months. The department would certainly suffer if the tension remained, and Trisha could not handle further turnover among protocol specialists.
What should Trisha consider prior to addressing the conflict?
How can she help resolve the conflict?
Expert Solution Preview
The case study presents the conflict within the protocol department of Liberty Research Hospital, where Trisha Olsen is an assistant director. As a medical professor, it is crucial to understand how conflict resolution can impact not only the individuals involved but also the organization’s overall performance. In this scenario, Trisha needs to take appropriate measures to address the conflict and ensure that the department functions smoothly. This answer will discuss the factors that Trisha should consider before addressing the conflict and suggest ways to help resolve it.
Before addressing the conflict, Trisha should consider several factors. Firstly, she should assess the situation’s seriousness and determine whether it requires immediate action or if it can be resolved through natural channels. Secondly, Trisha should identify the root cause of the conflict and analyze whether it is a result of interpersonal differences, communication breakdown, or task-related issues. Thirdly, Trisha should evaluate the impact that the conflict is having on the department’s day-to-day operations, employees’ morale, and patient outcomes. Fourthly, Trisha should review the organizational policies and procedures related to conflict resolution and employee code of conduct to ensure that she complies with them while resolving the conflict. Lastly, Trisha needs to consider the long-term effects of how she resolves the conflict and whether it promotes a positive work environment or further exacerbates the conflict.
To help resolve the conflict, Trisha can consider several strategies. Firstly, she can encourage a face-to-face meeting between Stephanie and Bella to discuss the issue and find common ground. Secondly, Trisha can establish a standard process for quality control review and ensure that all employees are aware of it. This can reduce the likelihood of team leaders being overly critical or unhappy with their work returned with criticism. Thirdly, Trisha can provide training to all employees on effective communication, conflict resolution, and team building. This can enhance their interpersonal skills, promote better relationships, and prevent similar conflicts in the future. Fourthly, Trisha can consider a team-building activity to help employees to bond and gain a better appreciation of their respective roles in the department. Finally, Trisha can hire a professional mediator or an external consultant to help resolve the conflict if it persists or escalates beyond her control.
In conclusion, resolving conflicts in a medical organization is crucial to ensure effective service delivery, maintain employee morale, and promote a positive work environment. Trisha should consider several factors before addressing the conflict and adopt appropriate strategies to help resolve it. Through such measures, conflicts can be resolved positively, and the department can function smoothly.