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''Conflict is the process of opposition and confrontation that occur in organizations between either individuals or group-occurs when parties exercise power in the pursuit of valued goals or objectives and obstruct the progress of other parties'' (Wagner and Hollenbeck 2010, p.227) .
Oceanic Bank Plc is one of Nigeria's foremost financial services institutions. The bank serves customers spread across all tires of government, corporate organisation, small and medium enterprises and individuals. This review is focussed on the issues that relate conflict between marketing and operations functions and the performance on Oceanic Bank Plc .
A classic example of organisational conflicts is seen in the relationship between marketing or sales and operations or manufacturing (Rotemberg and Saloner,1995) and it was noted by Shapiro(1977) to be majorly caused by a difference in evaluation criteria for the different units.Taking Oceanic Bank Plc , Nigeria as a case study, the marketing staff are evaluated based on the number of businesses they generate while operations staff are based on how effectively and efficiently they carry out their duties while adhering to the bank's policies. Other causes of conflict as highlighted by (Mullins 2005) can be linked to differences in perception, Individual attitudes, departmentalisation and specialisation.This can result in different responses in individuals and differing goals.
In this analysis, the effects of conflict in reducing motivation and performance are discussed.The benefits of functional conflict as compared to dysfunctional conflict in Oceanic Bank Plc are analysed.The importance of communication and resolution approaches are explored. Also suggestions on how conflict can be minimised in the bank are proposed.
Conflict in Oceanic Bank Plc
Oceanic Bank Plc is a service oriented organisation with aim to maximise profit. The relationship between marketers and that of the operation staff can be classified as reciprocal inter-dependence (Wilson and Rosenfeld 1990). In other words, the output of one function is the input of another.Marketers get customers to complete an account opening form which they pass on to operations staff.The account is opened and cheque book issued.All relevant information about the account is passed by operations to the marketers for effective management. Where the two departments are required to interact intensively and yet not bound up in common reward, the tendency for them to conflict is increased (Dutton and Walton 1966). Marketers in the bank are rewarded based on the number of businesses they are able to generate while operations staff is rewarded based on how effectively and efficiently they carry out their duties while adhering to the bank policies. Generally, Marketers enjoy a higher compensation and faster promotion than the operations staff. This create resentment which can impact negatively on the organisation overall goals and objectives.
Sometimes these conflicts are promoted by the bank which leads to dysfunctional relationship between groups impeding the aims and objectives. For example, marketing department is constantly put under enormous pressure to generate risk asset and liability and even tweak the rules if possible in order to meet profit targets. At the same time, an operations staff is under obligation to make sure that all documentations are in place and both department have different reporting line.
A classic example is the bank's policy of paying third party cheques.The policy states that any cheque above five hundred thousand naira must be reconfirmed by the marketers before payment.This policy lead to serveral confrontations between operations and marketing staff. This is as a result of the fact that customers are delayed because markerters fails to reconfirm their cheques on time. The Marketers become confrontational after such instances suggesting that operations staff destroys customer relationship developed over a period of time while operations staff maintains that bank policy must be adhered to.
This dysfunctional relationship leads to poor communication (Mullins 2005).This was seen in situation whereby the marketing group find it difficult to get the services from operations staff that they would normally have gotten easily and vice versa.
Effects of Conflict:
Thomas (1976) as summarised by Wall and Callister (pp. 515-558, 1995) suggested that negative emotions can result in low job satisfaction which can reduce motivation and performance.This is exemplified in the branch with decrease in the branch overall performance. The job functions of the staff in the branch became a routine, and resulted in loss of intrinsic values with staff going to work because of the monentary value. There is more resistance than team work(Mullins 2005) and this was seen as the distance between marketing and operation staff increased. The rate of absentee based on health issue increased as a result of stress and this had a negative impact on the bank performace.
Oceanic Bank Plc Conflict (Functional or Dysfunctional)
The interactionist view on conflict see conflict as positive and necessary for organisation performance (Mullins 2005). According to (Hatch 1997), conflict can be functional and dysfunctional.When the intensity of conflict is at optimum level, it is functional and at other levels it is dysfunctional. In Oceanic Bank Plc, the conflict between the Operations and Marketing staff can be regarded as dysfunctional conflict because of the negative effect on the performance of the individuals and the bank. An instance is when marketers give operations an account opening package with in complete documentations and promises to regularise but fails to do so thereby generating conflict.
Dysfunctional conflict can have destructive consequences and therefore important to detect, and act to prevent recurrence (Bloisi et al 2003). As suggested by Cosier and Schweak (1990) dysfunctional conflict can signal needed change. Also a situation where operations staff refuse to attend to customer's request without a recourse to marketing unit resulted in dysfunctional conflict. However with the intervention of the managers in clarifying set goals and objectives of the bank and improving communications channels between the departments can turn dysfunctional conflict to functional conflict.
Functional conflict which can create breakthrough should be managed to achieve most beneficial result for the bank (Bloisi et al 2003).It can improve the quality of decisions made, stimulate creativity and innovations(Robbins 1998) thereby enhance performance. The negative behaviour that arised from cheque confirmation as illustrated above made the bank to come up with another policy of confirming cheques on the system online. In this regard marketers now confirm online before the cheques are presented and this has reduced the conflict between operations and marketers while increasing performance in the bank.
(Robbins 1993) suggested that "problem in communication process act to retard collaboration and stimulate misunderstanding". Oceanic Bank Plc in this regard needs to restore communication and set goals clarification and also there should be a continuous inter-departmental contact with well-developed channels of communication (Millman 1982) and this will enhance team working culture and build up trust and reduces hostility. "Communication is central to individual and organisation" (Buchanan and Huczynski 2010 pp.225) for sustainable development. It is important to know that the critical issue here is really not how to eliminate conflict but rather how to manage it productively to get positive results and avoid negative consequences.(Bloisi et al 2000).This will increase the performance of both the employees and the bank in terms of increase in account opening, increase in transactions and profitability.
There is a need for managers of both operations and marketing in Oceanic Bank Plc, to develop courses that will help the two functions to become more sensitive to each other's need bearing in mind how the differences in education and training influence relationship (Shaw, Shaw and Enke 2003).In order to achieve this, the bank can train staff to recognise and deal with conflict resolution (Linstead et al 2004). The managers have to emphasis one of (Thomas 1976) distinguished resolution approaches which is collaborating. This approach solves problem by clarification of differences (Robbins 1998). The ability to solve problems jointly and also confronting differences and sharing ideas and information as noted by (Linstead et al 2004) should be adopted by the staff of the bank
An appraisal system that will reward total organisational performance rather than individual or group accomplishments (Bloisi et al 2003) should be introduced.
The review of the study showed that the dynamics of the industry resulted in the conflict between operations and marketing staff.
Understanding conflict and it effect on individuals, group and organisation is important in appreciating the factors that enhance and impede group conflicts and creates ways for addressing dysfunctional behaviours and circumstances that leads to conflict and construct ways of encouraging functional conflict that drive performance and good corporate in Oceanic Bank Plc.
The use of collaborating approach in handling conflict should be encouraged as this will enhance teamwork in the bank.
The importance of effective co-ordination and communication which can build up team culture and trust in the bank has been highlighted .
The suggestions made in the report, once implemented would be beneficial for the bank.It would minimise or eliminate the intensity of conflict and enhance the performance of the staff and organisation as a whole.
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