QUESTION 2. If the meeting does take place, how should Kelly try to make it more productive and less hostile?
In such a context, the role of Bobby can hardly be underestimated. Bobby should meet needs of his subordinates. In this regard, Shirley and Jeannie need to put the end to their conflict and to improve their relationships. Therefore, Bobby, as the leader of the organization, should assist and encourage the second meeting. However, he should stress the responsibility of Kelly for the outcome of the meeting. His involvement in the process of communication between Shirley and Jeannie will stress the importance of their positive interpersonal relationships for the entire organization that will facilitate their communication because they will have the common purpose to reach.
Therefore, Kelly should act carefully and responsibly before and in the course of the second meeting. In fact, it is Kelly, who mediates the communication between Shirley and Jeannie and she should help them to improve their relationships. The failure of the first meeting is her responsibility because Jeannie asked her to set the meeting but Kelly apparently failed to understand the essence of problems and, what is more, causes of problems between Shirley and Jeannie. In this regard, the difference in the management style of Shirley and Jeannie and the difference in their personal characteristics are the major causes of conflicts between them. Consequently, Kelly should have taken into consideration these causes before setting the first meeting. In such a way, she could prevent the failure of the first meeting and help both parties to solve the problem or, at least, start changing their relationships.
If Kelly gets the second chance, she should come prepared to the second meeting and she must be present on the second meeting. In fact, Kelly should keep both parties cool and calm avoiding outbursts and communication going out of control. Obviously, it is unacceptable when either party involved in the communication process outbursts and offends another party. This situation is particularly dangerous when a subordinate offends the manager, as it was case of Jeannie in relation to Shirley. At the same time, the nervous, hostile ambiance prevents the meeting from the effective communication. In fact, when both parties are hostile, they are not ready for the negotiation and compromises. Therefore, Shirley and Jeannie will be unable to come to agreement, if they are nervous and hostile. Instead, Kelly should create a friendly ambiance to help Shirley and Jeannie to feel being at ease. For instance, she could invite them to dine out and to have the second meeting in the course of which they can be relaxed and friendlier. To make them friendlier, Kelly should help them to learn some information about each other. For instance, before starting the conversation concerning their relationships and their business, Kelly should ask them to tell a little bit about themselves. Moreover, she just could tell a little about herself. In such circumstances, sharing some personal information will be very useful because the parties will understand that all of them may have something in common (Johns & Saks, 2008). For instance, they may have children and discussing their behaviour or sharing some information on their children, their habits, problems and so on may help them to find some common interests. As soon as they found common interests, Shirley and Jeannie will be ready for the open, sincere dialogue. Therefore, they will be ready to communicate, they will be able to understand each other better and, thus, the second meeting will be more effective compared to the first one.
The effective communication between Shirley and Jeannie is extremely important because they have serious problems in their relationships and the main problem is that they cannot communicate with each other. In fact, they need the assistance of Kelly to conduct their communication and it is Kelly, who should make their communication effectively. In this regard, Kelly could try a transformational leadership style to serve as a guide to her subordinates and as a partner willing to help them. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the transformational leadership style is particularly effective in the context of structural organizational changes as is the case of the company, where Kelly is working in.
In fact, Shirley and Jeannie faced problems in their relationships because of the restructuring, which actually made them work together. The transformational leadership style can help Shirley and Jeannie to understand that the organization is in the course of consistent, structural changes (Johns & Saks, 2008). Therefore, this is the time, when the staff working within the company should be united. Hence, Shirley and Jeannie have to unite their efforts to complete the change at their organizational level successfully. Kelly should help them to understand their responsibility for the restructuring of the unit headed by Shirley and the successful integration of the branch head by Jeannie is a part of the successful accomplishment of the organizational restructuring.
Furthermore, Kelly should prepare a plan of the meeting. As the matter of fact Kelly did not look as if she had a plan in the course of the first meeting. She did not interfere in the communication process and what is more she did not event attempt to encourage Shirley to respond somehow to Jeannie. The lack of response from the part of Shirley was the main problem of the first meeting, which actually led to its failure. In such a situation, a well-elaborated plan will be very helpful. In fact, Kelly should study carefully the situation to understand causes of problems in relationships between Shirley and Jeannie to be able to find strategies and methods to help them to tackle their problems. At first, Kelly should study the background of both Shirley and Kelly, she should study their personal characteristics and find possible ways to improve their relationships.
In addition, Kelly should communicate with either party to get insight toward their mood, expectations and needs to meet them in the second meeting. Kelly should recommend Shirley and Jeannie to elaborate their suggestions concerning the improvement in their relationships. In such a way, Kelly will be able to create a strategic plan of helping Shirley and Jeannie to improve their relationships. If necessary, Kelly should encourage Shirley and Jeannie to tell about their vision of ideal relationships between them. As a result, both parties will be able to communicate and elaborate some possible changes in their relationships to ease the tension.
At this point, Kelly should make both Shirley and Jeannie recognize that they do have problems in their relationships and that both of them should take action to tackle these problems. At the same time, Kelly should find some common interests of Shirley and Jeannie. Moreover, she should attempt to make their relationships less formal and friendlier. Dining out is one of possible measures to reach this goal. In addition, Kelly should make Shirley and Jeannie working on the common task. The mutual work will help them to understand better each other but this will be possible only when they make the first step toward improvement of their relationships. Moreover, Kelly should encourage Shirley and Jeannie what they are ready to sacrifice for the sake of positive interpersonal relationships. In such a way, they will define possible ways where they can negotiate and finds plausible solutions to their problems.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that poor relationships between Shirley and Jeannie is a dangerous challenge to the effective performance of the unit headed by Shirley. The main problem is the poor communication between Shirley and Jeannie and their different views on management and leadership. In such a situation, the failure of the first meeting has aggravated their relationships. Therefore, Bobby should request Kelly to set the second meeting but Kelly should come prepared to the second meeting. In fact, Jeannie is ready to change her behaviour and avoid outbursts she slipped to in the course of the first meeting. Kelly should encourage the dialogue between the two parties in the second meeting. She should make the second meeting less formal and friendlier. To meet this goal, she should find some common interests between Shirley and Jeannie, which do not refer to their professional life. After that the efficient communication can start.
Johns, G. & A. M. Saks. (2008). Organizational Behaviour: Understanding and Managing Life at Work. Toronto: Pearson.