Conflict in an Organization

Organization Conflict is inevitable in organisations, it may produce positive and negative outcomes. Discuss on why conflict arises in an organisations and will it be harmful to the organization.

In an organisation, conflict is bound to happen due to difference in opinion of the people in the organisation. Conflict can be caused by anything that leads to a disagreement that arises when two or more parties perceive a threat to their needs, interest or concerns. Conflicts can arise from poor communication between the employees and their manager. It also happens when there is lack of understanding of the employee differences in seeing a task of a goal differently. Conflicts also occur when individuals fight for their own interest or goals, not considering the organisation’s goals.

According to Cole, it is much needed because organisation without conflict would experience passivity and contentment which would be harmful. For example, without anybody conveying disagreement in a decision-making process of marketing strategy, it would limit room to explore and innovate better ideas. This may result in a stagnant sales performance and the organisation would not be able to improve its sales and move forward.

Having a scares resources may also result in a conflict because people will need to compete to use the available resources to do their job. In an organisation, every employee has a differing personality which could cause misunderstanding when employees are not willing to accept each other’s approach to work and problem solving.

One such prevalent conflict between employees and management would be the Bell Curve system in performance appraisals. Employees are forced into specific rating baskets to fit into the bell-shaped curve. Some people are graded as “non-performers” or “below average performers” when that may not even be the case. The lower scoring employees could still be good performers who meet the role expectations, but are pushed into the bottom category simply because of the forced ranking nature of this system.

This evaluation method helps management to identify the top-performers in order to nurture and reward them which goes a long way in retaining the best talent within the organization. However, as only a limited number of employees can fall into the “top performers” basket, employees who had actually performed exceedingly well might be categorized into the “average performers” basket. This will lead them to feel demoralized and hence, reduced productivity overall.

Also, many organization’s today is still adopting the “bell-curve” system in HR for performance appraisal which often lead to conflicts between organizations and employees. Disagreements always exist when employees are not being evaluated fairly based on their actual achievements causing demotivation to rise. In real life, managers who is evaluating the performance appraisal on behalf of the company, still observed to adopt favouritism culture and biasness. I’m in opined that the bell-curve ranking system doesn’t really care about how the employees being evaluated. It forces management to have those difficult conversations about poor performance and consequently affect business operations over time when their morale is affected.

However, some scholars (Deshmukh, T. and Patel, J., 2019. pp.39-40) argue that they recognized “bell-curve” system as valuable where it has recognized top performs, identify employee-job fit in an organization, efficient and effective allocation of training of employees and minimizing the rate errors during appraisal process. Even with this positive note, conflict will still somehow exist. This can merely mitigate with giving better understanding and choosing proactive conflict resolution strategies to resolve the conflict.

The other reasons for conflicts to occur are due to competitions and leadership style and “conflict involving rivalries, jealousies, personality clashes, role-definitions and struggles for power and favour” (Omisore, B. O. and Abiodun, A. R., 2014., pp.119). For example, individual’s behavior to be in power and compete for power is a major pushing force for conflict to arise which must be avoided at any course.

Hence, in some of the research done by (Behfar, K. J., et. al. pp.171) individual styles or behaviors such as “avoiding, accommodating, compromising, competing, problem solving” are tools used in addressing the conflict management process. In my opinion, the crucial solution is to approach conflict in constructive communication and negotiations.

Conflict can neither be good or bad and this is often where most people wants to avoid. Organizations, foremost wants to avoid conflict at workplace to avoid detrimental situations which can affect the performance of business objective of the organizations. Even conflict can lead to implications on communication, absence of teamwork, decline in productivity, poor customer experience delivery and brand value deterioration and emotional stress. Conflict does not only occur to specific situation but it can even happen to any situations both traditional and modern organizations.

Yet till present, employees in any organizations still percept conflict as distress, a form of cold work-relationship which affects employees personal emotional at workplace. In simple lay-man understanding, in example of compensation policy. If it is not established and communicated clearly, there be a situation where organizations may face counter-suits from employees and disputes where the matter can be referred to industrial relations department for resolutions which may be costly for the organizations paying out compensations, etc.

As organizations strive to achieve their goals, it is necessary for organizations to manage conflict imperially to avoid forces causing high attrition of employees leaving the organization and bottom-line hitting the revenue and return on investments of the organization. According (Omisore, B. O. and Abiodun, A. R., 2014) argued that “not all conflict situations are bad”. A difference in personalities can lead conflict to be win-over if change is accepted sensibly to drive and encourage mind-openness and except differences in opinions. In real life, conflict bound to happen to anyone this includes even to age differences who might have different views or opinions which often lead to disagreements.

As a conclusion, the key success in addressing such conflict is through communications. Although, communication is considered the leading key success in overcoming conflict, the leaders who is involved in this communication must be equipped with appropriate knowledge and skill set in handling the conflict situation with clear vision and clarify to accomplish its communication objective. Therefore, improving communication with good conflicts can also be a driving factor for employees to enhance and improve their personal leadership skills to innovate and improve their personal development skills.


Cole, G.A. (2005). Organisational Behaviour: Theory and Practice. Nottingham, United Kingdom: Thompson.
Dr. Deshmukh, T. and Patel, J., 2019. Research Paper on Bell Curve Method of Performance Management. International Journal of Management (IJM). Vol. 10, Issue 1. January-February 2019, pp. 38-42.
Behfar, K. J., Peterson, R. S., Mannix, E. A. and Trochim, M. K. 2008. The Critical Role of Conflict Resolution in Teams: A Close Look at the Links Between Conflict Type, Conflict Management Strategies, and Team Outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol. 93. No. 1, pp. 170-188.
Omisore, B. O. and Abiodun, A. R. 2014. Organizational Conflicts: Causes, Effects and Remedies. International Journal of Academic Research in Economics and Management Sciences. Vol. 3, No. 6, pp.118-137.