Friday, October 30, 2015


The example I will be using regarding conflict and its resolution originates from my former workplace. The situation was a tragic consequence of the unequal balance between responsibility and liability. To give a little background information, the nonprofit organization I worked for had a manager that was also assigned multiple roles to fill out. By that order, I, being the assistant manager, was given these roles in a less direct manner. Thus I was given, to a lesser extent, the responsibility to manage HR, manage the resources, take the accounting department of the firm and lead it, among other things.

The problem with this setup is that for a new employee, getting to know the roles becomes a hurdle when there are so many to be fulfilled. A major conflict that happened was in the making of the database of the clients of this organization. The office manager gave this responsibility to me with a time constraint of one month while she teaches me the way around. The idea was to store the information, that was on paper, to a database that can be accessed easily and shared. While the typing of the forms took a long bit of time, there was a lot of potentially important information on there. My manager wanted just the names and the utter basics for the entries. I argued against it, but being the new employee meant that I lacked the self-confidence it took to implement my suggestion. I conceded to her insisting and continued to create this rudimentary database while somehow managing to do my other responsibilities aside from this project.

Instead of gritty details, I would prefer to go to the end of this job, where the database crashed, in a sense. My manager had asked me to redo the database multiple times, entering information selectively based on the needs of the current situation. Now this meant that, if there were 200 sheets and she made me redo it four times, I have had looked through 800 sheets. The amount of work this gave me pinned me down and I was resigned to be suboptimal at my managerial and assisting abilities. My choice to avoid conflict had caused an office-wide level of inefficiency.

A month after the most recent, and most complete rendition of the database had been formed, a new employee had been assigned to be my assistant, or rather my equal. My manager had two subordinates, and this was because of my absence from the job between two semesters. When I returned, it was chaos. The database could not only be shared, it could also be edited without restrictions. A week later, the database crashed. It appears that there had been so many temporary renditions of my database that no one was sure which one was the original one. I tried figuring out what went wrong by talking to my manager, but it resulted in an argument that heated up really fast. At the end of it I became very uncomfortable with my existence as a part of the organization, and I ultimately left it.

The avoidance of conflict and attempting to fix the consequences resulted in far more damage than if the attempt at this particular innovation had never been attempted.


  1. It is clear that you and your manager disagree about how to get the work done. But disagreement can occur without conflict arising. And disagreement can occur even if mistakes are made as long as there is learning from those mistakes. In the story you told, however, it appears the same mistake was made over and over again. While it didn't sound like there were overt expressions of anger about this, conflict does arise when the parties act in a passive aggressive way.

    Now, as to how you told the story, I admit some confusion on my part. You begin by saying the data entered weren't detailed enough, but then you talk about the database crashing. To me those sound like different problems, not one and the same thing. If they are related or really the same issue, you need to spell that out more so the reader can understand it.

    There is also a different issue at foot here, which is managing symptoms only rather than curing the real problem. People often doing this unknowingly, because they don't understand what the real problem is and they want a quick and dirty solution to address the symptoms they do see. This in itself is not conflict. But if one part in the organization does understand what the real problem is while the other does not, then the inability to communicate about the nature of the problem is conflict.

    Reading your post, it was hard to tell whether that was happening or not. It would be good to get clarification on this.

    1. Your third paragraph identifies the conflict correctly. The main problem was the occasional dismissal of my opinions regarding the database. I wanted to flesh out the reason, and may have lost my track while writing this. Ultimately, the database crashing was due to her taking charge of the database before I had a chance to complete it, and hence the events transpired and the conflicts that I have written about took place.