A common organizational conflict that limits institutional outcomes, especially for healthcare institutions, is interpersonal conflict. This type of conflict occurs between two or more individuals, who may be in competition for manpower resources or limited capital in an organization. It can also occur when individuals in an organization are in disagreement over organizational objectives or goals as is the case in healthcare organizations (Wilmot & Hocker, 2001). Operations and day-to-day activities in healthcare organizations must involve all stakeholders including top managers, physicians, nurses, other staff members, as well as patients. However, there are numerous issues or factors, either internal or external that result in interpersonal conflict in several healthcare organizations. With a focus on Atlanta Medical Center, some of the internal issues that result in interpersonal conflict in this healthcare organization and others are individual differences and unfair treatment (Wilmot & Hocker, 2001). Individual differences are common between physicians and top managers whereas unfair treatment is often targeted at physicians, nurses, and other employees as seen in circumstances where no rewards are given to them for their exemplary performances. From an external perspective, stiff competition among healthcare organizations, which is the reason for the lack of motivation among staff, is also a key factor that results in interpersonal conflict. Structural and relationship issues within healthcare organizations also contribute to interpersonal conflict. For instance, by making significant structural changes, new managers and employees come on board, and this often paves the way for poor relationships among stakeholders resulting in interpersonal conflicts in the long run. Economic and legal issues are other key factors that contribute to conflict in healthcare organizations. Of course, economic challenges and the failure to abide by governmental policies and regulations create a lot of frustration among organizational employees and employers resulting in endless interpersonal conflicts. Also, worth noting is the issue of power differentials and struggles in most organizations, which jeopardizes togetherness and cohesion, and thus, result in continuous interpersonal conflicts (Riaz & Junaid, 2011).
The greatest problem faced by Atlanta Medical Center, in Atlanta, Georgia, is interpersonal conflict among managers, physicians, nurses, and other staff members. Interpersonal conflict has jeopardized the institution’s commitment to realize set goals, mission, vision, as well as outcomes (Beheshtifar & Zare, 2013). From its historical background, Atlanta Medical has gone through a series of acquisitions and purchases over the years, which have seen the embrace of new organizational structures and managements. Instead of helping achieve the organization’s goals, the new structures have resulted in poor relationships between physicians and top managers, which have been extended to other staff members including nurses. Interpersonal conflict has had adverse effects on employee performance and productivity, decline in revenue generation and profitability, as well as loss of competitive advantage. Moreover, the poor service delivery that has resulted in the lack of patient satisfaction can be attributed to the endless interpersonal conflicts in the organization (Borkowski, 2011). As such, the concern has been on how to address interpersonal conflict and prevent the organization’s potential exit from the competitive healthcare industry not only in Georgia but the United States in entirety.
To address interpersonal conflict, which is the greatest challenge in Atlanta Medical Center, analyzing the conflict using a perfect analysis model would be the starting point. Based on the fishbone model, also known as the cause and effect analysis, Atlanta Medical can be classified under the service industry, which means that the potential causes of interpersonal conflict are categorized into policies, procedures, people, and technology (Ilie & Ciocoiu, 2010). These categories are illustrated in the diagram below:
Atlanta Medical’s processes in place to address interpersonal conflict are based on its policies, procedures, technology, and people involved in everyday activities. First, the organization has formulated new policies that will promote the freedom of its employees when it comes to dressing and behavior. This is effective as it will help address frustration and the lack of motivation among staff paving the way for the elimination of interpersonal conflict. Second, the organization has made significant changes in its procedures, which will see physicians and nurses make key decisions regarding service delivery without having to consult top managers. This process is effective as it will boost the morale of staff, and thus, doing away with potential interpersonal conflicts (Borkowski, 2011). Third, the organization has come up with guidelines on how various operations should be carried out, a move which could prevent ideological differences among staff paving the way for the elimination of interpersonal conflict. Fourth, the organization has crafted guidelines on how various technological platforms such as Internet should be used by staff. With these guidelines, emphasis is one the use of the organization’s technology for organizational-related and not personal issues. This is effective as it will prevent possible miscommunication and misunderstanding thereby preventing incessant interpersonal conflicts.
|Issue||Action||Responsible Party||Due Date||Outcome|
|Individual differences and unfair treatment: Individual differences between managers and staff as well as unfair treatment of staff result in interpersonal conflict||Creation of problem solving groups||Heads of administrative groups- management and staff departments||September, 2016||Patient satisfaction will rise from the current 5% to 30% by September, 2016.|
|Stiff competition from rival organizations: stiff competition from rival organizations has resulted in the lack of motivation among staff, hence interpersonal conflicts||Partnership with rival organizations in service delivery||Management||January, 2017||Enhancement in provision of healthcare with the potential increase in bed capacity from the current 536 to 1000 by January, 2017 (Teegardin, 2012).|
|Economic instabilities: economic challenges have created frustration among staff leading to interpersonal conflict||Acquisition of aid from financial institutions||Management||February, 2017||Investment capital will increase from $20 million to $ 70 million by February, 2017.|
|Inability to abide by government regulations: failure to abide by policies and regulations set by federal and state governments have seen the close monitoring of the organization’s operations. This has frustrated staff and subsequently led to conflicts.||Creation of a department to ensure staff abide by government policies and regulations||Management||October, 2016||Increase in revenue generation from $10 million to $35 million by October, 2016 due to a significant decrease in government fines, by October, 2016.|
|Power differentials and struggles: misunderstanding between management and employees of execution of responsibilities has led to interpersonal conflicts
|Mediation between top managers and staff including physicians and nurses||External management experts and consultants||September, 2016||Improved employee performance from the current 53% to 90% by September, 2016.|
|Ineffective Policies: outdated and ineffective policies have frustrated staff causing interpersonal conflict.
|Updating current policies and formulating new and more effective ones||Management||December, 2016||Enhanced patient care where one physician or nurse can attend to 10-15 patients in a day up from the current 5 patients in a day by December, 2016|
|Unfriendly and strict organizational procedures: staff members are under pressure to make decisions based on managers’ approval, which has demoralized them and resulted in interpersonal conflict.
|Coming up with friendlier and more acceptable procedures. e.g. allowing staff freedom to deliver service||Management||December, 2016||Productivity will increase from the current 45% to 89% by December, 2016.|
|Misuse of technological devices: technological platforms are the source of misunderstanding and miscommunication, and subsequent interpersonal conflicts||Training staff on the use of technological devices and how to use them for organization-related issues||Technology experts and consultants||November, 2016||Enhancement of service delivery to patients and enhanced patient satisfaction where the percentage of patient complaints reduces from 20% to 2% by November, 2016.|
With the above actions or interventions, key internal and external issues that jeopardize relationships, understanding, communication, and interaction among stakeholders will be solved or addressed. Interpersonal conflicts in Atlanta Medical currently are because of the compromised relationships, communication, understanding, and interaction among key stakeholders. The identified actions for each of the issues contributing to the problem at hand are likely to be more than effective. As such, it is expected that the incessant interpersonal conflicts in Atlanta Medical will be addressed never to be heard or witnessed in the coming future.
As it stands, good relationship between the management and employees is crucial to the resolution of incessant interpersonal conflicts. The organization’s management has the responsibility of coming up with new policies and procedures, which might face resistance from staff, thus limiting positive resolution of the problem.
Beheshtifar, M., & Zare, E. (2013). Interpersonal conflict: A substantial factor to organizational failure. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 3(5), 354.
Borkowski, N. (2011). Organizational behavior in health care. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Ilie, G., & Ciocoiu, C. N. (2010). Application of fishbone diagram to determine the risk of an event with multiple causes. Management Research and Practice, 2(1), 1-20.
Riaz, M. K., & Junaid, F. A. (2011). Types, sources, costs & consequences of workplace conflict. Asian Journal of Management Research, 2(1), 600-611.
Teegardin, C. (2012, February 8). Atlanta medical center, south fulton medical center seek consolidation. The Atlanta Journal Constitution. /
Wilmot, W. W., & Hocker, J. L. (2001). Interpersonal conflict. New York: McGraw-Hill.