Role Conflict AmongService Employees Chapter 9: Case 1 Darren Bumann David Standley Amy Tomich Patrick Wilson Brian Kennedy
Case Summary Maggie Beckhard was recently hired as a supervisor of approximately 20 telephone customer-service operators. Her previous job was supervision of productions, a much different focus than customer service.
Case Summary Maggie now has to deal with employees who are facing cases of role conflict and lack of clear responsibility. • As customer service operators, their job entails providing quality customer service regardless of time and resources. • As employees, they are charged with serving the most amount of customers in the fastest and most efficient manner.
‘Roles’ in Business Advantages • Increase internal communication • Handle specialized or priority problems • Increase task identity • Allow specialization in tasks/training Disadvantages • Role Conflict • Incorrect Role Expectations/Perceptions • Employee Dissatisfaction
Role Conflict Role Conflict- A situation in which an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations. Ex. Studying for a test on Friday • Education- study to get good grades • Social - go out late Thursday night Ex. Work vs. Home Life/Family
Problems Serving Two Masters (Opposing external Role Expectations) • Employees’ role conflict comes from being forced to choose between opposing constituents (opposing internal role perceptions) To meet managerial objectives, operators must abide by training guidelines and have high caller turnover To serve customer needs, operators must be allowed sufficient time and flexibility to make sure customers are satisfied
Problems From Managerial Perspective • Increased Turnover and Absenteeism • Lower Job Satisfaction • Increased Turnover Costs • Maggie believes that role conflict leads to these problems because operators can never satisfy both constituencies.
Solutions Eliminate Role Conflict in Operators • Make management serve in customer- contact positions periodically Gain perspective, lead to more realistic goals/objectives for operators • Encourage upward communication from operators to management Having ideas and suggestions taken seriously can increase task identity, autonomy, and job satisfaction in operators
Solutions Eliminate Role Conflict in Operators • Survey Customer Satisfaction Market research of customer needs/complaints can show operators where to focus to better serve customers • Reduce Emphasis of Management on High Call Turnover Implement corporate culture of customer service and Total Quality Management • Ever-improving customer service • Customer retention through satisfaction
Solutions Take Advantage of Role Conflict • Empower operators to handle conflicts • Distinguish between high- and low- priority calls • Use as catalyst for increased communication to management
Role Divergence in Teams Role conflict in a team • Conflict can arise between the goals of an individual and goals of the team • Role divergence can occur within a team A team “leader” may not be accepted by others as a team “member” A team member may not want to oppose team views (groupthink)
Question #1 What’s the source of role conflict here? • Maggie’s employees experienced opposing role expectations. They believed: Customers wanted their undivided attention and limitless time to solve problems Managers wanted high caller turnover and as many calls handled as possible
Question #2 Are there functional benefits to management from role conflict? • In this specific case, operators may feel more obliged to serve customers as well as they can • Role conflict may encourage upward communication about concerns
Question #3 Should role conflict among these telephone service employees be any greater than a typical employee who works as part of a team and has to meet the expectations of a boss as well as team members? • On one hand, a member of peer team may experience greater conflict because satisfying both management and team members over the long run can create difficult decisions. • On the other, these operators’ internal conflict can not be eliminated without creating better service for customers. Inferior service leads them to lower job satisfaction, higher absenteeism, and higher turnover.
Question #4 What can Maggie do to manage this role conflict? • Eliminate operators’ perception of role conflict Enhance culture of TQM and customer service Make managers serve as operators to understand the situation and gain perspective on managerial objectives Encourage employees to communicate needs and concerns with managers about service