Ethical and Professional HRM Essay Example

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14Ethical and Professional HRM

Ethical and Profesional HRM

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Managing the conflict 4

Classification of conflicts 4

Affective conflict 5

Substantive conflict 5

Conflict of interests 5

Conflict of values 5

Goal conflict 6

Analyzing the situation at DHS 6

Three ways to resolve the conflict at the Department of Human Services 7

Reconciling the parties interests 7

Using listening, feedback and counseling 8

Designating representatives 8

Taking a generic approach 8

Having a neutral staff 8

Right based process 9

Power based resolution 9

Choice of interest based method due to ethics and professionalism 10

Conclusion 11

References 13


Conflict of interest in workplace can occur in situations where the personal interests of the officials are against the workers’ interests (Effron, Gandossy & Goldsmith, 2003). In most cases, conflict is inevitable. When two or more groups or individuals come into contact while trying to attain their objective, their interests may become incompatible. The perception of difference among people is known as conflict (Crane & Dirk, 2004). In organizations, conflict is a major problem. According to Effron, Gandossy & Goldsmith (2003), the neo-classical view of conflict advocated for the elimination or minimization of the conflict in the organization for it to function properly. There is a held belief that by minimizing the conflict, the organization can be able to run effectively (Dana, 2001). The modern view of conflict looks at conflict as inevitable and a good indicator of the organization progress. This is through a view that if the conflict is within certain limits, then it is acceptable (Dana, 2001). Having little or no conflict in an organization is taken as harmful to the organization. It has also been noted that if the conflict is left unattended for a long time, it can lead to adverse harm to the organization.

The federal government Department of Human Services (DHS) was accused of trying to squeeze work from the public servants which was valued at $100million. The department then claimed that the community and the public servants were making demands valued $1 billion from its enterprise agreement (Towell, 2014). This is a conflict situation involving the management at the federal government and public servants. The human resource management is supposed to step in and manage the conflict before it escalates to unmanageable levels (Crane & Dirk, 2004). This essay will look into this conflict as the human resource manager and explain the three options that can be used to manage this conflict. It will then choose one method and justify it based on the ethical and professional behavior.

Managing the conflict

The conflict at DHS requires handling well before it escalates into a big issue. The department of human services can use the human resource department in making sure the matter is solved to the best of the conflicting parties (Crane & Dirk, 2004). As the human resource manager, I will make sure that I utilize the means which can lead to the matter being solved amicably. The first step as the human resource manager is ensuring that there is a clear and well outlined statement of values related to conflicts that may occur in the organization. Having well outlined values in an organization helps in shaping the response to conflicts. The values also help in making the workers understand that conflict management is not solely for the human resource management. The conflict should be solved by the employees with cooperation from the human resource department. There are three main ways in which conflicts are managed. The methods are:

  • Reconciling the parties’ interests

  • Establishing who is right

  • Determining who has more power.

Classification of conflicts

According to Effron, Gandossy & Goldsmith (2003), conflict is described based on its source. There are several sources of conflict which includes values, goals and tasks. The main types of conflicts are affective conflicts, substantive conflicts, conflict of interest, and conflict of values and conflicts of goals (Crane & Dirk, 2004).

Affective conflict

This is a conflict that occurs between two social entities when working to solve a problem. When the two social entities discover that their emotions or feeling are incompatible, conflicts arises. This type of conflict is known as psychological or interpersonal conflict (Effron, Gandossy & Goldsmith, 2003).

Substantive conflict

This is a conflict that occurs in situations where two or more members in an organization come into a disagreement due to task or current issue. This type of conflict involves the group members disagreeing on their opinions and ideas (Harper, 2004).

Conflict of interests

Conflict of interests occurs in a situation where there is inconsistency between the preferences of two parties when allocating the resources. Each of the party involved may be having different type of solution in cases of sharing the resources (Harper, 2004).

Conflict of values

This occurs when two different social entities have different values or ideologies. This can be seen in such situation where two supervisors cannot agree on the hiring method. Having different values in an organization fuels this type of conflict (Harper, 2004).

Goal conflict

This is a conflict that is based on inconsistent outcomes of two social entities. Having different goals fuels a conflict which in most cases involves the management.

Analyzing the situation at DHS

The conflict at the department of human services is a conflict of interests. This is due to fact that the two parties are in conflict based on their preferences. The workers in this case feel that the department is squeezing work from them which is valued at $100million. The department feels that the community and the public sector union have been making $1billlion demand which they base on the new enterprise agreement (Towell, 2014). The conflict of interest is evident between the public servants through their union and the company. The department interest lies on being able to make extra money from the employees increase in working hours without paying the employees. This is justified by the increasing demands on the department by the union and community. On the other hand, the employees feel that the increase in their working hours without pay is an assault on their working conditions. As a human resource manager, I have to utilize one of the three methods in conflict resolution.

Before applying any of the methods to resolve the conflict, use of conflict management principles will play a major role (Dana, 2001). The first principle is accepting the conflicts are bound to occur. This is through acknowledging that conflicts occur and it is not a bad thing. Having conflict in an organization can be used in boosting the quality and the organization level. The next step is making the stakeholders aware that there is a system that is used in managing the conflict. The process of managing the conflict should be clear and attain good support. This is a process that have steps making it easy to use in the organization (Harper, 2004).

The interests of all those involved in the conflicts will have to be considered. This can only be achieved by including all the stakeholders when coming up with a system to resolve the conflict. Including all the stakeholders makes them feel that they own it and are indeed part of the conflict resolution. The dispute resolution system should not be designed only by the management and handed over to the stakeholders. This will ensure that all the stakeholders’ interests are taken care of (Rothschild, 2000).

Conflict resolution system used should be fair and the stakeholders should be able to support it (Dana, 2001). The stakeholders’ perceptions are important in determining how fair the system is. A good conflict management system should be capable to be used and accessed easily. The system should involve representatives from the workers and the department. According to Rothschild (2000), all levels of employees should be represented in this case making it possible to put all issues on the table in the right time.

Three ways to resolve the conflict at the Department of Human Services

Reconciling the parties’ interests

This is a process which involves looking at the interests of the public service workers as well as those of the DHS. Using this process, it will be faster to solve the dispute and achieve higher satisfaction. The process should involve use of creative solutions which will make the outcome better than using the legal methods (Harper, 2004). Using this method, there will be no need for formal rules of evidence. The perceptions among the parties will be used in coming up with the solution. The human resource department can use interest based options and make them available to the parties.

Using listening, feedback and counseling

DHS should set up a place in which the workers can give their views and describe the situation to someone who serves as a reality check. This will help DHS to give feedback and information on the state of the situation and how they are doing to solve it. Using this channel, the disputant will be able to see the situation in all angles and come up with ways of solving it (Kruk, 1997).

Designating representatives

As the public workers may need someone who can represent them, DHS can provide them with one or alternatively use the union. This is due to fact that workers may fear reprisal or may feel the need to remain anonymous. The organization should assign a staff who will act as the representative together with the workers union (Kruk, 1997).

Taking a generic approach

Since the issue of extra working hours is raised by everyone, it should be handled in a generic perspective. The matter should not be segmented and all those involved should be given same chance of resolving the conflict. This is a process that will help the management as they will be able to manage the broad issue without having to look at the issue on individual party bases (Dana, 2001).

Having a neutral staff

The organization should assign an employee a neutral staff or union official. The person should act as an ombudsperson. In this case, the human resource manager will act as the neutral and assist the employees in a generic fashion (Lowry, 2006). The human resource manager will be involved in mediating the dispute between the union and organization. As the human resource manager, having credibility will be vital in this position (Dana, 2001).

Right based process

This method involves two processes which in most cases are short. The first process involves investigating, looking for facts and adjudicating. The human resource manager in this case can act as the ombudsperson and ensure there is no conflict of interests (Winstanley& Woodall, 2000). The process of fact finding is vital as it can help the solution to be reached without the need for adjudication. In this case, the fact finding should look between the claims by two parties and come with sufficient data based on the facts (Crary, 2009). The department of the human services claims that the demands by the union and community are worth more than $1billion while the department is accused of squeezing workers an extra $100million. These claims are what the department should embark on and establish their authenticity. If the fact finding process finds any of the group to be in the wrong, the resolution process should be based on the evidence.

The second method is appeal. This is a process in which the disputant can be allowed to appeal the decisions made. The management can use the senior management, peer review and boards which are specifically made for arbitration (Dana, 2001).

Power based resolution

This mechanism is used to resolve the conflicts by using power. The outcome from the resolution is mostly based on the disputants who have more power. Power based resolution involves war, strikes and voting (Dana, 2001).

Choice of interest based method due to ethics and professionalism

Professional behavior requires all members of the organization to conduct themselves in a manner that does not act to discredit the organization. The members are required to make sure they treat others they way they would want to be treated (Dana, 2001). When managing a conflict ethically, the following factors should be looked at: Facts, ethical issues involved, fundamental principles involved established procedures and alternative course of action(Dana, 2001). All these factors are catered for in the dispute resolution process using the interests based method. The method also ensures there is confidentiality in handling the conflict and coming up with the solution. The method weights all the possible alternatives and consults all the stakeholders before coming to a conclusion.

By looking at the situation, the best method to use in this case is interest based solution. This is due to the fact that interest based solutions are more satisfying and less costly. The human resource should use interests based methods such as mediation, negotiation and reconciliation. The power based solutions are expensive and more damaging to the organization ethics. Having a strike may lead to loss of productive hours and damage the reputation of the organization. The method involves the stakeholders which makes it possible to act on their interest. The method follows the principle of fairness and the organization moral duty towards the stakeholders. The organization using this method is able to uphold the respect of the persons by treating them rationally and with dignity (Crawley & Graham, 2002).

Through recognizing the employees the main stakeholders, this method is the best to use in reconciling the dispute. The employees have a great importance in the firm hence their involvement in dispute reconciliation is vital (Buchholz & Sandra, 2005). When the employees are not engaged in the conflict resolution, they create a state where they see as if the organization has no concern for them. The employees should be treated morally during a dispute resolution (Lafer, 2005). The method ensures that the resolution have the lowest cost and the most satisfying outcomes for the organization. Power based solutions have outcomes which may not go well with the employees’ ethics.

The fact that the interests based process looks at the interests of all the involved parties makes it the most ethical method to use. The method does not only look at the legal or organizational rights, but is able to look at each party individually and analyze their interests. There are also higher chances of making every party satisfied and coming up with the best creative solution (Crary, 2009).


Conflict in an organization is common and in most cases inevitable. In this case, the conflict involves the public service employees and the Department of Human Services. It is important to understand that not all conflicts are bad as they may help the organisation to improve if handled well. In this case, the conflict can be handled in three main methods. The methods are reconciling the parties’ interests, establishing who is right and determining who has more power. Among the three methods, reconciling the parties’ interests is the best method. This is due to fact that it looks at all the ethical considerations of both parties involved and comes to a conclusion that favors all. The method is less costly and faster than the rest. The method provides several interests based options to the parties making it possible to solve conflict easily. The human resource manager in this case can act as the mediator.

The method considers ethic factors through looking at relevant issues, following ethics, looking at fundamental principles, establishing internal procedures and looking for alternative courses of action. This will ensure that the public service employees and the Department of Human Services are all catered for. The employees are vital in any organization and failure to address the conflict can lead to a serious problem. The method also ensures that the parties are able to put their demands early making it possible to have a quick resolution.


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Crane, A. & Dirk M. (2004). Business Ethics, a European Perspective: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization: Oxford University Press.

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Effron, M., Gandossy, R. & Goldsmith. M. (2003). Human Resources in the 21st Century. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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Kruk, E. (1997). Mediation and conflict resolution in social work and the human services. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

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Lowry, D. (2006). HR Managers as Ethical Decision-makers, Asia-Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 44(2): 171-193.

Masters, M. F. & Albright, R. R. (2002). The complete guide to conflict resolution in the workplace. New York: AMACOM.

Rothschild, J. (2000). Creating a Just and Democratic Workplace: More Engagement, Less Hierarchy. Contemporary Sociology, 29(1): 195-211.

Towell, N. (2014). Union outrage as Human Services prepares ‘shocker’ squeeze on work conditions, The Canberra Times, 8 July 2014, service/union-outrage-as-human-services-prepares-shocker-squeeze-on-work-conditions- 20140709-zt066.html#ixzz378wiptyA

Winstanley, D. & Woodall, J. (2000). The ethical dimension of human resource management, Human Resource Management Journal 10(2): 5-20.