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Conflict at Hotel Fortina Essay


Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss the conflicts that are likely to arise within and between the departments of Hotel Fortina. Conflicts often occur in organizations when employees are not able to tolerate their colleagues’ influence. Organizational conflict is usually undesirable since it can cause low morale and productivity, as well as, high labor turnover.

The factors that are likely to cause conflicts at the hotel include motivation, group work, organizational structure, and leadership style. The forms of conflicts that are likely to occur at the hotel include interpersonal conflicts, role conflicts, and intrapersonal conflicts.

These forms of conflicts can occur within departments and between departments. The management of the hotel should focus on implementing preventive measures in order to avoid the occurrence of these conflicts.

Introduction

In order to overcome competition in the hospitality industry, hotels must focus on generating high revenue and improving their efficiency. In most cases, hotels fail to achieve their financial growth targets due to internal organizational conflicts. Conflict refers to “all forms of intolerance, which results from an incompatible influence between individuals, groups, and organizations” (Griffin & Moorhead 2011, p. 112).

Employees and managers normally face interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts at their workplaces. The confusion and frustration associated with these conflicts often cause stress, low productivity, job dissatisfaction, and burnout among employees (Luthans 2006, p. 324). Conflicts usually occur in organizations because employees have different opinions, priorities, interests, and beliefs.

Additionally, conflicts can occur due to organizational structure, leadership style, motivation, and poor teamwork (Phillips & Gully 2011, p. 79). This paper will focus on organizational conflict by analyzing Hotel Fortina. Concisely, it will shed light on the conflicts, which may arise within and between the departments of the hotel.

Hotel Fortina

Hotel Fortina is a leading firm in the United Kingdom’s hospitality industry. It is located in Sliema town in the island of Malta (Hotel Fortina 2013). The hotel started with 65 rooms, but has since developed into a 4-stars hotel with 200 rooms and over 5 restaurants.

The hotel’s organizational structure consists of a general manager and five line-managers that are in charge of various departments. The departments include rooms; food and beverage; human resources; marketing and sales; and accounting. The conflicts that can occur in the departments and their causes include the following.

Motivation

The level of employee motivation at the hotel can be a major source of conflict. According to Rollinson (2008, pp. 34-123), motivation refers to a state that arises due to internal and external occurrences that prompt a person to engage in an act that leads to the achievement of a specific goal.

Motivation is important because it energizes employees, thereby facilitating achievement of organizational goals (Yammarino & Danserau 2009, p. 245). Concisely, it influences the performance of the organization by determining the persistence of employees in their pursuit of organizational goals, as well as, the direction and intensity of their behaviors.

At the department level, motivation can lead to role conflict among employees. Role conflict occurs due to situations that are related to the duties assigned to different employees in the same department. For example, in the food and beverages department, the manager can instruct a steward to work for extra hours in order to serve all customers.

However, the steward might lack the motivation to work for a longer shift since she also has a duty to attend to her children at home. In this case, the employee will have to decide on whether to obey the manager or to return home at the end of her shift. Similarly, a conflict can result between the manger and stewards due to the differences in the goals associated with their roles.

For instance, the manger can instruct the stewards to take the least time possible to serve food to customers. The rationale of this strategy is that it will enable the hotel to serve many customers in order to meet its revenue targets. However, the stewards might not increase the speed with which they serve customers.

This is because quick services might limit their ability to pay attention to customers’ needs, thereby causing customer dissatisfaction. In this case, conflict will arise because the manager and the stewards are pursuing different goals (Islam, Zaki & Ismail 2008, pp. 344-362).

Role conflicts usually occur because employees have different needs. According to the expectancy theory, employees decide on what to do based on the expected outcome of their actions (Bacon & Blyton 1999, pp. 638-654). Since the employees at Hotel Fortina are aware of the consequences of their behaviors, they will only engage in actions that are beneficial to them.

Consequently, there will always be conflicts between line-managers and members of their departments if they do not have a common goal or if they disagree on the strategies for achieving the goals (Rahim 2010, p. 55). Motivation can also lead to conflicts between the departments of the hotel. According to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, motivators and hygiene factors determine employees’ morale (Hellriegel & Slocum 2007, p. 67).

Hygiene factors include salaries, job security, and working conditions. Motivators, on the other hand, include the application of company policy, quality of supervision, and interpersonal relationships (Miner 2007, p 97). The distribution of hygiene factors such as salaries in different departments can be a source of conflict.

According to the equity theory, employees in different departments will always compare their salaries, working conditions and other rewards in order to determine the level of fairness in the organization (Stringer, Didham & Theivananthampillai 2011, pp. 161-179).

For instance, employees in the sales and marketing department might be working for the same amount of hours and completing tasks of comparable difficulty or complexity as their counterparts in the accounting department. However, employees in the accounting department might be paid more than their colleagues in the sales and marketing department.

In this case, sales and marketing officers will feel that they are not treated fairly. Thus, lack of fairness will lead to dissatisfaction, thereby causing a conflict between the marketing department and the human resources department (Garg & Rastogi 2006, pp. 65-78).

Leadership Style

Witcher & Chau (2010, p. 89), define leadership as a “process in which an individual exerts his or her influence on other group members in order to attain defined group or organizational goals and objectives.” According to Kotter (1988, pp. 76-120), leadership is a process that involves formulating a vision for a group or an organization, as well as, being able to achieve and to sustain it.

The leadership style used in an organization can be a source of conflict since it determines the relationships and interactions between employees and the management (Adair 1984, pp. 47-160). According to the contingency theory, effective leadership should enable members of a group to achieve high performance (Fiedler 1978, pp. 12-45).

Consequently, Hotel Fortina uses transformational leadership to achieve the highest level of motivation and productivity among its employees. This leadership style involves effective delegation of tasks, staff development, easy access to leaders, and challenging conventional approaches (Fiedler & Chemers 1984, pp. 82-114). Even though this style of leadership seems to be effective, it can also lead to conflicts at the hotel in the following ways.

First, it can cause interpersonal conflicts, especially, between the managers or supervisors and their juniors. This is because, not all managers and supervisors are transformational leaders. Transformational leadership depends on the values and personality orientation of the leader (Hunger & Wheelen 2000, p. 117).

Thus, individuals who lack charisma, as well as, inspirational and communication skills are not likely to use it (Hitt, Ireland & Hoskisson 2009, p. 278). At the department level, poor communication skills can lead to a conflict between the managers or supervisors and their juniors. Concisely, it can lead to misunderstanding of information, thereby causing a conflict between the managers and the employees.

For instance, cooks in the food and beverages department can misunderstand instructions from the head chef if the instructions are not clear. Consequently, they will make mistakes when preparing meals and beverages. The persistence of these mistakes will always cause interpersonal conflicts between the head chef and his juniors. Similarly, poor communication skills can be a source of conflict between the departments.

Communication breakdown can occur if one department fails to provide the information that is required by another department. For instance, the accounting department depends on the information generated by the marketing and sales department to prepare its revenue reports. Consequently, when one department fails to provide the other with adequate information in time, conflicts and tensions will arise.

This type of conflict is destructive and, thus, should be resolved through mediation or managerial interventions. The interventions should focus on improving communication between the departments in order to eliminate the conflict (Bodtker & Jameson 2001, pp. 259-275).

Second, conflict of interest is likely to arise if some managers are not able to use the transformational leadership style. Transformational leaders are expected to incorporate the opinions of their juniors in their decisions (Knights & Willmott 2007, pp. 341-367). Furthermore, junior employees are allowed to challenge the decisions made by their seniors in order to improve the productivity of the organization (Morgan & Zeffane 2003, pp. 55-75).

However, non-transformational leaders might not be willing to accept any challenge, especially, from their juniors. According to McClelland’s theory of learned needs, individuals have three needs namely, achievement, affiliation and power (Bucic, Robinson & Ramburuth 2010, pp. 228-248). Thus, non-transformational leaders in the hotel will focus on attaining personal achievements such as promotions and power.

However, these interests might conflict with those of the hotel and other employees. For instance, the sales manager might set very high targets for her sales team in order to improve performance. She is likely to be promoted to a higher position if the high sales targets are met. However, the stress associated with meeting the targets can lead to dissatisfaction among the employees and high labor turnover.

This is against the hotel’s interest or objective of retaining its employees. In this regard, the conflict of interest between the sales manager and the sales team will be destructive. This conflict should be resolved through measures that align employees’ goals to those of the company, as well as, using intrinsic rewards to augment performance-based rewards (Wilhelmson 2006, pp. 495-507).

Group work

Group work is an important tool for enhancing productivity in the service industry. A typical group involves at least two people who interact, cooperate, and depend on each other in order to achieve a common goal (Lantz 2011, pp. 75-96). Hotel Fortina has organized its employees into groups in order to improve efficiency and productivity.

Each department has a team of employees who are responsible for a specific task. For example, the reservation team is responsible for managing room booking activities. Group work can lead to the following conflicts within the hotel. To begin with, group work usually leads to role conflict. A typical group consists of members who are responsible for performing specific roles.

These roles include the chair, shaper, plant, monitor-evaluator, resource investigator, and company worker (Belbin 2010, pp. 10-150). The chair is the equivalent of a supervisor who leads various teams within each department. The shaper is the employee who leads others in the execution of a given task, whereas the plant is the member who generates ideas for the group (Belbin 2010, pp. 10-150).

Monitor-evaluators assess the effectiveness of ideas, while resource investigators work with outsiders to acquire new ideas and resources for the group (Belbin 2010, pp. 10-150). The company workers are responsible for transforming ideas into tasks. Role conflict can arise when the duties of the group members are not clear (Houle, Chiocchio, Favreau & Villeneuve 2009, pp. 270-285).

In this case, the members are likely to compete for the opportunity to perform some duties and avoid others, thereby conflicting with each other. For example, the beverage manager and the head chef can have different opinions concerning the quality of the beverages that are served to customers. In this regard, a conflict will arise between them if their job descriptions do not define the person who has the final say on beverage quality.

Role conflict can also occur when some members’ duties are too difficult to be performed (Tidd & Friedman 2002, pp. 236-257). Conflict of interest can arise if the group members have different goals and objectives (Marjosola & Takala 2000, pp. 146-158). For example, the laundry team usually performs routine tasks such as cleaning visitors’ clothes.

Since these tasks are monotonous, some members will always avoid them at the expense of the group. The hotel uses a performance-based reward system to promote high productivity among group members of each department. The problem with this strategy is that underperformers are always punished through negative rewards such as little or no bonuses (Bagher 2008, pp. 51-75).

This worsens their dissatisfaction, and intensifies the conflict concerning the distribution of rewards among the employees (Milne 2007, pp. 28-38). Intrapersonal conflict will also arise in the groups in various departments if members have different values. For example, a housekeeper might not be allowed by the hotel to provide extra services such as carrying visitors’ luggage.

However, this might be against his personal values concerning his obligations to customers. According to Bagher (2008, pp. 116-120), the value-expressive function enables individuals to obtain satisfaction by expressing attitudes, which reveal their core values. This means that the housekeeper will prefer to assist the guest in order to achieve high satisfaction.

Consequently, the housekeeper will find it difficult to choose between helping the client with the luggage and observing the rules of his team. Finally, conflicts can arise due to unfair distribution of resources (Cortes, Saez & Ortega 2007, pp. 45-57). This can happen when the same task has to be done by groups from different departments.

For example, designing tasks and training cooks has to be done by groups of employees from the food and beverages department in conjunction with their counterparts from the human resources department. In particular, on-the-job training has to be done by the food and beverages department, while off-the-job training has to be facilitated by the human resources department.

In this regard, unfair distribution of training resources between these departments will lead to conflicts. According to McCray and Palmer (2009, pp. 465-476), conflicts within groups can be resolved by enhancing trust among the members. Additionally, rewards must be shared equitably, and the members should have a common goal in order to avoid conflict of interest (Clements & Washbush 1999, pp. 170-176).

Organizational Structure

Organizational structure refers to the formal system of interactions and coordination that is used to synchronize the tasks assigned to individuals or groups of employees in order to achieve a predetermined goal (Stacy 2003, pp. 34-171). It is a means of distributing responsibilities and authority, as well as, determining the reporting structure in an organization (Griffin & Moorhead 2011, p. 451).

Organizational structure is important because it is the legitimate source of authority. Similarly, it is a means of identifying the employees who have the authority to make decisions for the organization (Schein 1980, pp. 149-151). In this regard, lack of a clear organizational structure can lead to conflicts. Hotel Fortina’s organizational structure has two levels of reporting in which employees report to their respective heads of departments (managers) who in turn report to the general manager.

The hotel’s organizational structure can lead to the following conflicts. To begin with, Interpersonal conflicts can arise within various departments due to the quality of supervision (Gerard 75, pp. 475-488). In particular, ineffective supervision can lead to a conflict between the managers and their employees.

The appraisal system used by the managers to measure the performance of employees can be a source of conflict if it is not fair (Iverson 1996, pp. 122-149). Employees will be dissatisfied if they believe that the appraisal system is not taking into account some aspects of their productivity and contributions to the organization (Benligiray & Sonmez 2012, pp. 3890-3905).

Similarly, conflicts will arise between the managers and the employees if the appraisal system benefits some staff at the expense of the rest of the organization. The reporting structure can also be a source of conflict if the managers fail to take into account the feedback of the employees in their decisions. Front line employees usually interact with customers on a daily basis.

Thus, they play a fundamental leadership role by channeling customers’ feedback to the top management. However, the front line employees can be demoralized if their opinions are not taken into account by the management (Cruz, Perez & Cantero 2009, pp. 478-490). Most employees are likely to believe that their efforts are not appreciated by the hotel.

Thus, they will develop apathy and low motivation (Cruz, Perez & Cantero 2009, pp. 478-490). In some cases, the employees will rebel against the organization. Interdepartmental conflicts can also arise if one department tries to impose its decisions on the others (Cruz, Perez & Cantero 2009, pp. 478-490). For example, the human resources department might formulate new administrative policies without consulting other departments.

The other departments are likely to reject these policies since they were not consulted. This is a destructive conflict since it can jeopardize the achievement of the organization’s goals. Thus, the organizational structure should be strengthened so that the reporting system and terms of interaction between departments is clear to all employees.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper was to discuss the conflicts that are likely to arise within and between the departments of Hotel Fortina. Conflict refers to any form of intolerance that may be experienced in an organization due to the incompatible influences between its members. The factors that are likely to cause conflicts at the hotel include motivation, group work, organizational structure, and leadership style.

The forms of conflicts that are likely to occur at the hotel include interpersonal conflicts, role conflicts, and intrapersonal conflicts. These forms of conflicts can occur within departments and between departments. The management should focus on implementing effective preventive measures in order to avoid these conflicts and to improve the competitiveness of the hotel.

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