Effective communication is an important tool in dealing with conflict properly. The role of effective communication in an organization is paramount. Firstly, effective communication within human resource management (HRM) plays a significant role in attracting some of the most qualified employees to a company. Effective communication assists HRM in cultivating positive employee relations, increase competencies through the development of skill levels, and even limiting turnover on already hired employees. Human resource managers must be skilled communicators in order to deal with the company’s employment issues effectively. This demands to be able to listen to employees’ concerns and be ready to compromise in order to foster an open environment. Accuracy of job-related information is also an important ethical issue in management that helps avoid misinformation that can cause conflicts. The case study analysis below focuses on the problems that arise after a change of contract, which is handled inappropriately by the human resource management.
HR issue in the case and how the problem arose
The main problem of the HR department of the Great Southern University is poor communication. The HRM misled a new employee about the terms of his contract because of the poor communication in the department. This problem became obvious when the employee learned that his contract with the university has been changed. First, there seems to be a lack of communication between various employees in the organization. This is exhibited in the way they deal with the whole process of hiring new employees. For instance, the head of the Management Department, Professor Elizabeth Sinclair, communicated with Tao Wong, the new employee, without a full understanding of the formal contract details. This made her unable to convey the necessary information about the contract. To make matters worse, when Dr. Wong learned that the contract terms are different from what the head of the Management Department had explained to him, Anthony Rodrequez, the assistant human resource manager, delivered the message inappropriately, aggravating the situation even more. This happened through several faults in the conversation with Tao Wong.
First, Anthony Rodrequez failed to acknowledge that changing the terms of the contract caused a significant inconvenience for the new employee, especially considering the timing of the message.. As a result, he put the new employee in an uncomfortable position as if he is the one who brought the problem along. Secondly, Rodrequez failed to find any common area of agreement between him and Dr. Wong, a factor that made Wong feel misled. This means that the HR assistant was not ready to find a solution to a problem he was well aware the university has caused. This left Dr. Wong unsatisfied, a factor that may lead him to turn down the offer.
Due to his inability to confront the problem, Rodrequez demonstrates passive-aggressiveness where he indirectly criticizes Tao Wong through his comments. This makes Wong appear as if he is the cause of the problem.
How the situation could have been avoided
There are several ways in which this situation could have been avoided. First, when Anthony Rodrequez realized that the contract had changed to the disadvantage of their new employee, Tao Wong, he should have taken the matter as a difficult situation for both parties. With this awareness, he could have used clear and honest arguments and suggestions to resolve the problem. This could happen through outstanding oral communication and the ability to listen to and empathize with Dr. Wong.
After doing this, Rodrequez should have gone ahead to determine a solution in a fair manner in order to resolve the conflict that had already been created. This would have eliminated the conflict situation of deciding which party was wrong through their ability to compromise. Rodrequez could have left Dr. Wong satisfied by simply finding an area certain area of agreement with him, no matter how small it could have been. The HRM could have done this by being accommodative enough to generate multiple alternatives for Dr. Wong to choose from. This would help reach an agreement that would seem fair to both the university and the new employee.
Ethical issues involved in the case
There are several ethical issues involved in the case. The first one is the inaccuracy of information. The misinformation from Professor Elizabeth Sinclair led to a crisis, which caused a conflict between the university and its new employee. Being in an advantaged position due to her power and authority made it worse since she became the source of inaccurate information. When Dr. Tao Wong accepted the contract, he did not anticipate any changes. This even made him share private information about his planned relocation to Australia even before the contract was signed. At the end of the negotiation, he was informed of a change in contract terms. He was in a disadvantaged position. With the new terms, he had to pay for his airfares post-factum from his own wallet and forget about the additional relocation-related one-month salary as the earlier agreement suggested.
University’s loyalty to its employees is another ethical issue emerging from this case. Effective organizations are loyal to all their employees and stakeholders. This means that events such as unexpected and inevitable changes in contract terms should be handled with a lot of care, sensitivity, and an act of great moral significance. In the Great Southern University’s case of changing the contract terms, if the modification was justifiable, then the process should have been handled in a way that demonstrated genuine concern for Dr. Tao Wong. It is a moral obligation of all organizations to treat their employees with respect. This is through ensuring that individual managers do not use their authority to take advantage of those who work under their supervision.
Lack of justice is the other ethical issue in this case. Fairness as an ethical practice is demonstrated when communication is clear and when the voice of the employee is heard and respected. In this case, however, the university refuses to put Dr. Wong’s interests into consideration but chooses to focus on its own interest. In addition, the university fails to honor their policies in the first agreement and demonstrate respect towards their new employee.
Refusal to rationalize is another ethical issue that is exhibited in this case. Though Anthony Rodrequez is aware that the emerged conflict is not Dr. Tao Wong’s mistake, he chooses to condemn professor and justifies the HRM’s inconsistent behavior with a mere reason that the employee would have paid the airfares anyway. The human resource department assistant does not view his action as immoral since there is no evidence that his action is wrong. In addition, he does this as he is sure that the university will disregard the negativity of his action because he acted for the good of the university.
The other ethical issue that may be touched in this case is the lack of honesty. According to Lopen, honesty is the ability, to tell the truth in its entirety. Rodrequez seems to choose the manipulation to hide the dishonesty that the university afforded in regard to Dr. Tao Wong. This is seen when Rodrequez tells him that whatever Professor Sinclair had told him about the contract could be a lie as she had no authority to make any employment offer on behalf of the university (Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford 2003, pg 98). Any time honesty is compromised in a company, the university loses credibility and employees lose respect for the organization and its management.
Advice for Dr. Wong
The advice that is best for Dr. Wong is to turn down the offer to teach the university’s HRM a lesson. It is definitely necessary to explain why he came to this decision. This will help to address the incompetence of the managers. This would help by letting them know that their lack of professionalism cannot be tolerated. This decision will bring the attention of staff and non-HR management to the conflict, increasing the chances of eliminating similar problems with other employees in the future.
Employees must be honest, fair, sensitive, and respectful in communication with each other. Any organization whose goal is to make progress should invest in training its employees, emphasizing the significance of communicating ethically. This is important for all employees, whether managers or staff under their supervision. Managers should also exhibit the same qualities, especially when communicating with those working under them.