The Coca-Cola Company is the largest manufacturer of non-alcoholic beverages across the world. From a managerial and legal perspective, the corporation does not operate as a single entity, but its system is distributed across multiple local channels. The company has over 250 bottling partners all over the world, and since it does not control or own all the bottling partners, workplace problems have been reported in franchises located in different parts of the globe. Various employee issues such as racial discrimination, hiring, promotion, and diversity have been reported in its places of work (Shena, Chandaa, D’Nettob, & Monga, 2009). For instance, in 2000, the company had to settle a lawsuit worth $192.5 million as a result of discrimination accusations. The management decided to change how it treats, manages, and promotes its minority workers. Some of the problems that have been identified include role conflicts, communication problems, lack of cohesiveness, and intergroup conflicts. This paper analyzes the four workplace challenges affecting the company, offers recommendations, and suggests training program to enhance group productivity.
Role conflict takes place when an employee is tasked with numerous and incompatible duties and when his/her job description fails to consistently match his/her value judgments. When a person has to perform different tasks which are incompatible, it often leads to job conflict since he/she becomes torn between which duties he/she will attend to (Yeşiltaş, 2013). For instance, an individual may be given the roles of both a normal employee and that of the management in the same department, and this usually leads to conflicting roles. On most occasions, some subordinate workers are usually required to perform multiple tasks that may end up clashing in the course of fulfilling their duties.
Scholars have shown that ambiguity in an employee’s role usually contributes to job stress. Furthermore, the latter is associated with reduced job satisfaction, since personnel are not motivated whenever they are in their workplaces. In a beverage company, a subordinate employee may be tasked with the role marketing, sales and delivery of firm’s products. These multiple duties may prove to be not only monotonous, but also bring problems when it comes to balancing invoices at the end of a work shift (Yeşiltaş, 2013). This scenario leads to role conflict since the employee performs multiple tasks which sometimes become conflicting. Role overload and role strain are some of the factors that are associated with role conflict, and they often end up becoming pervasive.
Communication challenges can take place in an organization at a wide scale, like between employees and the management, and at minimal scale between employees in teamwork. When effective communication fails, it usually results in conflicts which affect the productivity of a team. Poor communication tends to harm an organization since teams that are tasked with the role of performing specific work fail to produce the intended results (Fapohunda, 2013). Furthermore, when group members are unable to communicate effectively, they cause delays in the performance of a particular project. For instance, in a beverage company, the manager may assign different teams with tasks of marketing, sales, procurement, and advertisement. When one of the groups is unable to perform its tasks as a result of communication challenges, the productivity of the entire organization will be affected.
The same applies to a project manager who is unable to communicate effectively with various teams. It becomes difficult for such a project to be completed without delays or cost overruns since the performance of different groups is not monitored. Studies have shown that poor communication creates uncertainties among teams since their members cannot clearly understand what is required of them (Fapohunda, 2013). Furthermore, uncertainties reduce motivation and innovation as well as working towards the achievement of a common goal. This leads to workplace stress and conflict particularly when an employee feels that other team members are not fulfilling their duties or working towards positive performance of the group.
With increased globalization of the economy, businesses have hired employees from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Although these workers may be enthusiastic about working together, the background differences may lead to misunderstandings which reduce the cohesiveness of the team (Shena et al., 2009). For instance, the Coca-Cola Company in India has been accused of favoring foreigners and giving them better remuneration packages compared to domestic employees. In the U.S., the corporation was blamed for racial discrimination, and it was forced to pay millions of dollars to settle the lawsuit. These are some of the problems associated with diversity in the workplace and they severely affect the productivity of an organization when they are not adequately addressed.
On most occasions, some employees may refuse to work with other staff members from different ethnic backgrounds. They may also demonstrate egoism, biasness and stereotypical attitudes against workers from different backgrounds. This reduces the cohesiveness of the teams and limits the ability of a team member to be productive. Studies have shown that an employee can only be innovative when he/she is motivated and is satisfied in the workplace. However, when diversity among group members is compromised, the ability of professionals from other ethnic backgrounds may fail to contribute positively to the performance of the team (Shena, et al., 2009). Workplace diversity is often associated with differences in language, communication styles, association, and collaboration in the team. On various occasions, an employee may perform exemplarily when he/she works with colleagues from his/her cultural background. However, the same worker may have a difficult time expressing himself/herself when he/she is exposed to a diverse group.
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On several occasions, groups interrelate with the objective of attaining organizational goals, but this may also be accompanied with conflict. Certain types of intergroup conflicts such as functional ones are often regarded as positive since they promote performance and enable the organization to identify various weaknesses (DeChurch & Hamilton, 2007). However, dysfunctional conflicts are confrontational and different groups of employees aim at harming each other. Such types of conflicts hinder the organization from achieving its goals since different teams try to weaken each other. Intergroup conflicts are caused by a number of factors, including goal differences, work interdependence, perception peculiarities and influence of individual members.
Furthermore, limited resources and differences in remuneration and reward structures often lead to intergroup conflicts, and this makes different groups set different goals. When a team perceives that it is being less appreciated and recognized compared to other groups, negative intergroup conflicts arise (Omisore & Abiodun, 2014). The impact of this conflict is that members of the same team assume their own differences and unite with the aim of harming the opposing group. Problems tend to arise whenever groups start to lose concentration on organizational goals. Moreover, when a team is closed off from the general group, dissent begins to be manifested. Isolation and lack of close collaboration is usually associated with decreased level of communication.
One of the main ways of solving work-related challenges is implementing an open and efficient communication channel. Role conflict can be adequately addressed when employees are able to communicate with their supervisors and present their grievances. This will enable managers to strategize and develop an effective work pattern that will eliminate job ambiguity in the workplace (Spaho, 2013). Communication challenges in a team can be solved by selecting a group leader who will be given authority to control the direction of a team. Furthermore, each team member should be assigned specific tasks and ensure that progress is communicated effectively during meeting. Rumor mills and gossips should be avoided and all members should rely on the official communication channel established by the group. Failure to listen and issues associated with attitude and ego can be tackled when all team members are given a chance to raise their opinions during meetings. It is important to note that when a person wins in an argument, it does not imply that the concerns raised by the other member are invalid. Effective communication procedures will be essential in solving such challenges.
Team members may demonstrate lack of cohesiveness as a result of diversity, but this can be addressed by implementing an organizational culture that embraces workplace diversity. Recent studies have shown that professionals from different countries tend to possess unique skills and talents which are instrumental in enhancing the competitiveness of an organization (Shena et al., 2009). Therefore, any company should have a code of conduct that promotes equality in the workplace and advices how to avoid biasness and stereotypical attitudes in the workplace. Training programs can also be instrumental in enhancing cohesiveness and reducing the risk of a group to underperform due to diversity. When employees are trained to appreciate the contribution of other team members, there will be increased productivity in the group.
Lastly, managers have several options that can be used to solve intergroup conflicts. First, expectations of different groups should be clearly outlined. Teams should also be selected carefully to avoid unnecessary competition and resentment. Dissent should be quickly addressed to prevent it from escalating to intergroup conflict. Resources need to be shared according to the demands of an organization, and all groups should be recognized equally to promote positive competition. Moreover, effective communication is considered as an important tool that can enable different teams to collaborate and share their goals (DeChurch & Hamilton, 2007). Lack of effective communication negatively affects interdependence among groups, and it should be addressed urgently to avoid miscommunication which is the stumbling block for several organizations.
Past studies on group dynamics have revealed that there are numerous policies and programs that can be implemented to enable an organization to manage and prevent conflict and promote practices that can enhance group productivity. Company-wide training programs have been recognized as some of the most effective ways of handling team conflicts. These programs involve all employees in the organization since the top executive team is responsible for initiating training programs for other employees. In an environment where companies compete with other multinational organizations, the management team must ensure that all workers are effectively trained to embrace diversity and other varieties (Niazi, 2011). Reducing internal differences is one of the steps that will enable firms to promote collaboration and reduce competitive pressures. Cooperation also enables the management team to identify the most effective programs that will have tremendous benefits to an organization. These programs may assist managers to make better and accurate decisions, enhance motivation in the workplace, and develop effective measures of solving work related conflicts.
Productivity can only be enhanced if the management teams are able to promote programs that tend to boost internal cooperation. With companies operating in the global environment where employees are increasingly diversified, it is important to develop measures that will motivate employees and enhance innovation. For instance, a firm can start from analyzing the challenges that affect the productivity of different teams when working towards the achievement of a certain goal (Niazi, 2011). If the issue is concerned with biasness and is discrimination-based against certain ethnic background, the management team needs to implement a training program that will change the mentality of its workforce. Another crucial aspect can involve development of an appropriate code of conduct that will be instrumental in developing an organizational culture that promotes diversity. Basically, conflicts in an organization can only be tackled based on the unique attributes of the organization and considering the severity of the problem. This will be one of the most effective ways of enhancing productivity among all workers.
In conclusion, this paper has critically analyzed the four major workplace challenges that affect companies, and has provided recommendations and suggestions of tacking the problems. From the above analysis, it is evident that role conflict tends to impact on the performance of an employee negatively due to ambiguity of his/her job description. Workers who have to perform multiple tasks of different job-group levels may be subjected to stress since their roles tend to clash. Next, communication problems affect the ability of different teams to coordinate with other group members. Poor communication leads to escalation of problems that prevent the ability of employees to be productive. When workplace diversity is not appreciated, biasness and discrimination based on ethnic background usually lead to lack of cohesiveness. Lastly, intergroup conflict arises when groups start to lose focus on organizational goals. The most important issue for the management team is to create an open and effective communication channel that will be used to quickly address any conflict. Company-wide training programs should also be implemented to educate employees on the significance of diverse workforce.