What is Marsha’s conflict management style, and how has it influenced events in this case?
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Read and respond to the following question 250 WORDS:
What is Marsha’s conflict management style, and how has it influenced events in this case? What were Marsha’s goals, and what conflict management style would have worked best in helping her achieve them?
The Case of the Missing Raise
Prepared by John R. Schermerhorn, Jr., Ohio University
It was late February, and Marsha Lloyd had just completed an important long-distance telephone call with Professor Fred Massie, head of the Department of Management at Central University. During the conversation Marsha accepted an offer to move from her present position at Private University, located in the East, to Central in the Midwest as an assistant professor. Marsha and her husband, John, then shared the following thoughts.Marsha: “Well, it’s final.”John: “It’s been a difficult decision, but I know it will work out for the best.”Marsha: “Yes, however, we are leaving many things we like here.”John: “I know, but remember, Professor Massie is someone you respect a great deal, and he is offering you a challenge to come and introduce new courses at Central. Besides, he will surely be a pleasure to work for.”Marsha: “John we’re young, eager, and a little adventurous. There’s no reason we shouldn’t go.”John: “We’re going, dear.”
Marsha Lloyd began the fall semester eagerly. The points discussed in her earlier conversations with Fred were now real challenges, and she was teaching new undergraduate and graduate courses in Central’s curriculum. Overall, the transition to Central had been pleasant. The nine faculty members were warm in welcoming her, and Marsha felt it would be good working with them. She also felt comfortable with the performance standards that appeared to exist in the department. Although it was certainly not a “publish or perish” situation, Fred had indicated during the recruiting process that research and publications would be given increasing weight along with teaching and service in future departmental decisions. This was consistent with Marsha’s personal belief that a professor should live up to each of these responsibilities. Although there was some conflict evidence among the faculty over what weighting and standards should apply to these performance areas, she sensed some consensus that the multiple responsibilities should be respected.
It was April, and spring vacation time. Marsha was sitting at home reflecting upon her experiences to date at Central. She was pleased. Both she and John had adjusted very well to Midwestern life. Although there were things they both missed from their prior location, she was in an interesting new job and they found the rural environment of Central very satisfying. Marsha had also received positive student feedback on her fall semester courses, had presented two papers at a recent professional meeting, and had just been informed that two of her papers would be published by a journal. This was a good record, and she felt satisfied. She had been working hard, and it was paying off.
The spring semester ended, and Marsha was preoccupied. It was time, she thought, for an end-of-the-year performance review by Fred Massie. This anticipation had been stimulated, in part, by a recent meeting of the College faculty in which the dean indicated that a 7 percent pay raise pool was now available for the coming year. He was encouraging department chairpersons to distribute this money differentially based on performance merit. Marsha had listened closely to the dean and liked what she heard. She felt this meant that Central was really trying to establish a performance-oriented reward system. Such a system was consistent with her personal philosophy and, indeed, she taught such reasoning in her courses.
Throughout May, Marsha kept expecting to have a conversation with Fred Massie on these topics. One day, the following memo appeared in her faculty mailbox.MEMORANDUMTO: Fellow FacultyFROM: FredRE: Raises for Next Year
The Dean has been most open about the finances of the College as evidenced by his detail and candor regarding the budget at the last faculty meeting. Consistent with that philosophy I want to provide a perspective on raises and clarify a point or two.
The actual dollars available to our department exclusive of the chairman total 7.03 percent. In allocating those funds I have attempted to reward people on the basis of their contribution to the life of the Department and the University, as well as professional growth and development. In addition, it was essential this year to adjust a couple of inequities which had developed over a period of time. The distribution of increments was the following:5 percent or less35+ percent to 7 percent27+ percent to 9 percent3More than 9 percent2
Marsha read the memo with mixed emotions. Initially, she was upset that Fred had obviously made the pay raise decisions without having spoken first with her about her performance. Still, she felt good because she was sure to be one of those receiving a 9+ percent increase. “Now,” she mused to herself, “it will be good to sit down with Fred and discuss not only this past year’s efforts, but my plans for next year’s as well.”
Marsha was disappointed when Fred did not contact her for such a discussion. Furthermore, she found herself frequently involved in informal conversations with other faculty members who were speculating over who received the various pay increments.
One day Carla Block, a faculty colleague, came into Marsha’s office and said she had asked Fred about Marsha’s raise. She said that Marsha received a 7+ percent increase and also learned that the two 9+ percent increases had been given to senior faculty members. Marsha was incredulous. “It can’t be,” she thought. “I was a top performer this past year. My teaching and publications records are strong, and I feel I’ve been a positive force in the department.” She felt Carla could be mistaken and waited to talk the matter out with Fred.
A few days later another colleague reported to Marsha the results of a similar conversation with Fred. This time Marsha exploded internally. She felt she deserved just reward.
The next day Marsha received a computerized notice on her pay increment from the Accounting Office. Her raise was 7.2 percent. That night, after airing her feelings with John, Marsha telephoned Fred at home and arranged to meet with him the next day.
Fred Massie knocked on the door to Marsha’s office and entered. The greetings were cordial. Marsha began the conversation. “Fred, we’ve always been frank with one another, and now I’m concerned about my raise,” she said. “I thought I had a good year, but I understand that I’ve received just an average raise.” Fred Massie was a person who talked openly, and Marsha could trust him. He responded to Marsha in this way.
“Yes, Marsha, you are a top performer. I feel you have made great contributions to the department. The two nine-plus percent raises went to correct ‘inequities’ that had built up over a period of time for two senior people. I felt that since the money was available this year, I had a responsibility to make the adjustments. If we don’t consider them, you received one of the three top raises, and I consider any percentage differences between these three very superficial. I suppose I could have been more discriminating at the lower end of the distribution, but I can’t give zero increments. I know you had a good year. It’s what I expected when I hired you. You haven’t let me down. From your perspective I know you feel you earned an ‘A,’ and I agree. I gave you a ‘B-plus.’ I hope you understand why.”
Marsha sympathized with Fred’s logic and felt good having spoken with him. Although she wasn’t happy, she understood Fred’s position. Her final comment to Fred was this: “You know, it’s not the absolute dollar value of the raise that hurts. It’s the sense of letdown. Recently, for example, I turned down an extensive consulting job that would have paid far more than the missing raise. I did so because I felt it would require too many days away from the office. I’m not sure my colleagues would make that choice.”
In the course of a casual summer conversation, Carla mentioned to Marsha that she had heard two of the faculty who had received 4+ percent raises had complained to Fred and the dean. After lodging the complaints, they had received additional salary increments. “Oh, great,” Marsha responded to herself, “I thought I had put this thing to rest.”
About three weeks later, Marsha, Fred, Carla, and another colleague were in a meeting with the dean. Although the meeting was on a separate matter, something was said which implied that Carla had also received an additional pay increment. Marsha confronted the dean and learned that this was the case. Carla had protested to Fred and the dean, and they had raised her pay on the justification that an historical salary inequity had been overlooked. Fred was visibly uncomfortable as a discussion ensued on how salary increments should be awarded and what had transpired in the department on this matter.
Fred eventually excused himself to attend another meeting. Marsha and the others continued to discuss the matter with the dean, and the conversation became increasingly heated. Finally, they each rose to terminate the meeting. Marsha felt compelled to say one more thing: “It’s not that I’m not making enough money,” she said to the dean, “but I just don’t feel I received my fair share, especially in terms of your own stated policy of rewarding faculty on the basis of performance merit.”
With that remark, Marsha left the meeting. As she walked down the hall to her office, she said to herself, “Next year there will be no turning down consulting jobs because of a misguided sense of departmental responsibility.