Employment can be related to dating or being in a relationship; both parties need to have something in common to start the engagement. The other key factor is the intention or goal of starting the courtship. As time lapses, what happens as the dating continues? Much like being in a relationship, the dating could end abruptly before it gets serious because it was immediately realized that this was a misfit. The second possibility results in the two parties entering in a vested work relationship that leads to eventual retirement. The most difficult of possibilities is when there is a misalignment in the work relationship that leads to conflict.
An individual starting employment with an organization may start out with all good intentions. They are testing the relationship to determine if they can commit to it long term or if they are there temporarily for the camaraderie, to make money and to enjoy the time together.
As time passes, the employee loses sight of the goals or disagrees with the direction the organization is going, changes their perspective, has communication challenges or decides to enter into an open work relationship with neither party being direct and telling the other the relationship has changed. The harmony ends and the conflict begins. Although this group of conflicted employees may only represent 20 percent of a workforce, employees that are not engaged are costly to the organization.
There are employees who do what is required of them and cause the least amount of discord. That is, until they start to feel neglected and see others getting more time, attention and less work (perceived or actual). The jilted employee may have passive-aggressive behavior or position others in an unfavorable way. The response causes the workplace to be less harmonious. The manager may not be aware of what is going on in the beginning.
But, it is reflected in the employee becoming disengaged and not working as a team. Communication may increase in writing and less direct interaction occurs with the team. The newer employee has a sense of not belonging because they are not making a connection with the key players. Overall, it could become a hostile workplace or some individuals may decide to leave.
It has been found that when there is conflict in the workplace, managers tend to put their heads down and ignore it, indicating the lack of time to deal with their employees and the pressure to get things done. Competing and multiple goals have teams and individuals working against one another rather than working together to achieve.
The other concerns are that managers have not been trained on how to handle people and performance management. It is believed that it is easier to get some level of work out of individuals rather than not having them at all or dealing with the challenges. This behavior will either have the manager pass the employee off to someone else or move him or her into a new role. Or the challenge will persist until it spills over to change the culture of the organization or the tension will escalate to some form of dismissal. In either case, the lack of engagement and performance mismanagement promotes conflict that costs the organization.