Pros and Cons of the Five Parts
When conflict situations require the assistance of an outside, impartial professional such as a mediator, the process can take several paths. Generally, the initial practice is to gather and analyze the conditions and confirm organizational support (Coleman, Deutsch, & Marcus, 2014). An evaluation of the five parts noted in the case study at Metro Services are included below, as well an analysis of the key items that can be considered favorable or supportive to the managements position or the employees, as well as those that are unfavorable or not supportive of one of the two sides. Often a favorable aspect for one side is similar to an unfavorable aspect for the other side.
Items Favorable to the Management Group
Part 1. Metro’s business model appears to work since they are able to recruit a professional workforce (90% with degrees), turnover is low, and most stay with the business. They have a new larger facility, with training capabilities, that could be an inducement to retention.
Part 2. The letter from Mr. Baker confirms he was treated well and he acknowledges the partners manage the business well.
Part 3. The business conditions note that Mr. Baker had an earlier problem with management, and this could be used, if necessary, to show that Mr. Baker was a problem employee. Metro has experienced fast growth and no issues with customers, which indicates they must be doing something right. The CEO thinks a Mediator is a good idea, and given this conflict is new to them, having outside guidance is a wise practice.
Part 4. The employees have not created a plan yet, so they are early in process, and they only came up with three issues. The employees have not included any demands, which are favorable to management, as indicates there is room to resolve without requiring antagonistic negotiations. There were no comments about compensation in the employee concerns.
Part 5. The employee survey shows that most employees (92%) think the owner’s attitudes are good, and 80% think salary is fair & comparable.
Items Unfavorable to the Management Group
Part 1. The business has added pressure with their guarantee of returning the Find and Replace Fee, that requires periodic interaction with the contracting company, and the employees do not understand why this happens. The company has had great success, which can make management think they can do nothing wrong. Metro has likely taken on additional expenses or loans to cover the new facility, and this may have taken management attention away from the employees.
Part 2. The letter from Mr. James Baker appears to have touched a nerve with many employees, and was the catalyst of some unvented employee concerns.
Part 3. Metro’s management thinks they are paying their employees well in the market place, and they think the employees will not unionize. Management appears to be optimistic and they should be prepared for the worst, hope for the best. It appears the VP of Operations, Mr. Barcell, is out of touch with the employees as he feels the employees should be pleased they have a job, very old school. This is especially of concern given the very young workforce.
Part 4. The employees have selected a spokesperson, begun to organize and talk collectively, which indicates they wish to accomplish something. There have been no companywide meetings for the past 3 years, which keeps employees in the dark about what direction the business is taking. This is especially of concern with such a young workforce. It appears that management does not realize how they were making the employees feel, as being in the middle between Metro and the contracting company.
Part 5. The survey showed very few employees think there are opportunities for advancement, given the temporary model; this is likely how the condition are, but increased communications could help make this clear. Employees appear to want some diversity, and with the new, bigger facility, this may occur, but it does not appear that a plan has been shared with the employees about management’s direction.
Items Favorable to the Employee Group
Part 1. Metro has just three principles, and they appear to regard their reputation highly. This indicates management would likely wish to resolve this conflict quickly and quietly to avoid attention that could harm their reputation. If the employees push, they may get more than they seek. The employees are mostly young, average 30 years of age, and could likely come to consensus easily.
Part 2. Mr. Baker shared a finite value, 30% profits, and this level of detail is likely the root cause of the conflict. It makes the Metro Partners appear as though they are hiding something, and this is further strengthened, as it does not indicate if management responded, following two notices. Baker sounds like he is sympathetic to the employees, after all, he has a new job and has nothing to gain except to right a wrong.
Part 3. Metro’s management does not appear as if they are prepared or have been tested under these conditions. Management appears optimistic, this could include overconfidence, and they could be unprepared to meet the employee demands.
Part 4. The fact the employees have selected a spokesperson indicates they have begun to organize and talk collectively. They have listed three issues that appear legitimate issues. It appears that management did now how they were making the employees feel, which indicates they are not engaged.
Part 5. Only 6% of the employees indicated they were involved with their salary, and this indicates a lack of engagement.
Items Unfavorable to the Employee Group
Part 1. Metro has a low turnover rate and the employees stay long, which means the employees are loyal to Metro.
Part 2. Mr. Baker’s letter has minimal proof to back up his claim of excess profits.
Part 3. There is no blemish on Metro’s record with employers, they treat employees fair with a 401K, and overall they are a growing business.
Part 4. The employees identify only three issues, though they appear fair, they do not appear to be very significant, and there is no mention of compensation.
Part 5. The employee survey showed just over half of the employees think they are appreciated and have job security.
Points of Contention
The data in the Case Study notes a level of tension by the employees, as evidenced by the fact that have organized for the purpose of voicing their concerns, stimulated by the letter by Mr. Baker. The principle points of contention include poor communications and a lack of engagement. Further, there appears to be a small portion of the employees that are concerned with their compensation, but this may be a secondary point of contention. Cascio (2015) noted salary alone is not a primary motivator associated with employee retention, and there are several other more powerful issues affecting work force stimulation that can cause employee dissatisfaction.
Regarding the lack of communications, the fact they have not had a companywide meeting for three years confirms they have been avoiding the issue of sharing information, especially about the new facility. This new acquisition prompted Mr. Baker to make his claim of excess profits. Of further note is the lack of recognition that communications could be a concern of this young, millennial, work force, as evidenced by the lack of understanding of this from the VP of Operations, Mr. Barcell. Waal (2000) discusses the importance of clear and accurate workplace communications to avoid conflicts and relieve potentially inaccurate employee perceptions. Regarding the lack of engagement, all three of the noted employee concerns appear as though improved engagement practices could resolve these issues. The fact that employees are not engaged with salary negotiations or understands the driving reasons why Metro interfaces with the contracting companies, shows a lack awareness of the business’ motivation. Further, the engagement goes both ways, and this could allow employees to express their concerns up to management. A study by (Uhl-Bien (2014) noted that employees are most impressionable early on, and if properly engaged, they tend to be more motivated to support the organization’s efforts.
Following the close examination of the analysis of the conditions, and acknowledgement by Metro management on the observed points of contention, a well-planned strategy with milestone dates identified, would be the next step in the resolution process. Assuming Metro’s management has approved the idea of proceeding with a mediating approach, opposed to either an integrative or distributive approach, the outside, non-adversarial professional shall work with both groups to gain full support of the go forward plan (Boundless, 2016).
Working with the key representatives of both groups, sharing professional insight, the Mediator will present the plan that calls for actionable events and follow-up efforts to confirm the identified activities are working to their objectives. By the end of the first month, a comprehensive communications plan should be identified with quarterly companywide events for all employees to attend. A monthly newsletter will be initiated that will start in the second month, and routine sharing meeting with management and different groups will be schedule bi-weekly.
By the second quarter, a plan to create a management-employee engagement team will be started with the objective of evaluation and recommending solutions to address the three noted concerns voiced by the employees. The team will be given the ability to sanction other teams as necessary to look at other areas, such as training, professional growth, and the new approaches being used in other temporary employment services. After the first year, this team will become an ongoing process improvement oriented team.
Boundless. (2016). Team Conflict Resolution and Management. [Boundless Management]. Retrieved from https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/groups-teams-and-teamwork-6/managing-conflict-55/team-conflict-resolution-and-management-279-3938/
Cascio, W. (2015). Managing human resources, 10th Edition. [VitalSource Bookself Online]. Retrieved from https:// digital bookshelf.argosy.edu/number/books/1259671704/
Coleman, P., Deutsch, M., & Marcus, E. (eds.) (2014). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (Third Edition). San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.
Uhl-Bien, M., Schermerhorn, J. R., & Osborn, R. N. (2014). Organizational Behavior, 13th Edition. [Argosy University]. Retrieved from https://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/#/ books/9781119033110/
Waal, F. B. M. D. (2000). Natural Conflict Resolution (1). Berkeley, US: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.libproxy.edmc.edu