As you are all probably aware from reading previous posts, I am studying a unit dedicated to conflict in the workplace. To complete the unit successfully, we were required to conduct a simulation, a workshop, to present to managers about possible scenarios involving conflict within the workplace.
Myself and my three fellow team members of ‘Vitality PR’ now had the challenge of coming up with the simulation’s content, what to include and how best to communicate to the managers so everything we were saying would be understood effectively.
The simulation had to last no longer than 20 minutes so we had to be specific in what we were to include. Because of the time restrictions it was necessary to be straight to the point and to focus on one case study and one example only.
Vitality PR, whilst researching possible examples of conflict in the workplace, kept discovering stories of sexism in the workplace. They were all predominantly about women experiencing inappropriate behaviour towards them by their male colleagues and bosses. To represent this a video was shown to the managers that identifies females being discriminated in the workplace.
Pantene: Labels Against Women
However, we wanted to take a fresh perspective on it and focused on finding cases where the male experienced discrimination. This was now the topic for the simulation. The case study that provided the inspiration for the role play was an experiment that the Guardian newspaper conducted to establish the severity of sexism in the workplace. (Click image to read experiment)
The simulation included: Definitions, theories, videos, sound clips, poster cue cards, role plays, interaction and a ‘Vitality PR guide to conflict resolution handout’.
The simulation was introduced by identifying a definition of conflict, alongside fox’s model ‘Conflict: Four frames of Reference’ (1966, 1973). The four frame of conflict was significant to the simulation as it identifies four differing perspectives of conflict, which the narrator of the simulation would refer back to throughout the presentation.
A role play was performed, shortly after, that allowed the team members to act out an example, inspired by the case study, of the male (me) being discriminated by female colleagues and boss. The scene was based around an interview opportunity for a permanent position as the female boss’s PA. The candidates are the male: an efficient, hard working and enthusiastic intern who was passionate about the possible job. The female: a party goer who turns up late for work nursing a headache and lacks motivation for the job. The interviewing process identified the sexism in the workplace. It goes without saying, in this scenario, that the male was shown nothing but disinterest and a lack of cooperation during his interview with his passion and enthusiasm dismissed abruptly, which contrasted with his female competitor’s smooth and breezy interview. The use of freeze frames and voice clips, suggesting what each character was thinking, aided the message of sexism being communicated effectively to the managers.
The male then took centre stage communicating and expressing his frustration and upset with big cue cards. He wrote that he was not being treated equally because he was a male and asked the manager’s for their advice. Do I confront my boss? or do I suffer in silence? The narrator identified, with the help of the managers, that the male was a ‘unitarist’ - one of the four perspectives of the frames of conflict that was outlined at the beginning of the simulation.
Managers said that the male should not suffer in silence but should confront his boss. But confronting management may result in conflict… This issue can be resolved with the help of Oade’s positive negotiation model (2010).
The role-play then rewound to the interviewing process where the male, now adopting an interactionalist approach, went through the process of Oade’s model and showed the managers how employees can address their issues professionally and respectfully – showing passion and knowledge that should establish a common ground between them both.
The simulation tested all of us who were conducting it and it actually made us reflect on how we would tackle this issue if we were involved in a similar situation in the future. It was beneficial to present and participate in the simulation conveying and adopting possible alternative actions and identifying positive or negative results. The whole unit has fully equipped us for working life and has greatly benefitted me personally. I feel supported in all the knowledge that I have gained from the unit and feel less anxious when starting work in the real world. BRING IT ON! I’M NOW ARMED WITH MY KNOWLEDGE! Thank you!