Perhaps Steve Jobs is afraid of conflict if he were to open lines of communication with his employees to raise their morale. To answer this concern, Springer (2006) describes the constructive side of conflict thus: “Fostering conflict to enhance decision quality while simultaneously building consensus requires the stimulation of debate, keeping conflict constructive, insuring that the process is fair and legitimate and being able to reach closure” (p. 9).
The author offers many ideas on nurturing conflict instead of preventing it, e. g. by role playing – a unique form of organizational communication that compels employees to disagree so as to generate new ideas for their project, team and/or organization. Also according to Springer, once the conflict is resolved the employees should be able to agree on the final decision made by their supervisor, provided that their team is in the habit of nurturing conflicts for positive change. The author insists that decisions made by supervisors should be perceived as fair. In order to achieve a sense of fairness in its decision-making, the organization must seek to avoid all negativity during the conflict.
Furthermore, the decision that is ultimately made is expected to “build consensus,” seeing that all team members are required to participate in a constructive conflict (Springer, p. 9). Certainly, Steve Jobs should not maintain his authoritarian attitude. Apple is bound to lose valuable employees in addition to customers if Jobs does not work on raising employee morale through effective employee communication. Apple can make good use of “information flows” as a result of corporate blogging (O’Connell, 2008).
After all, the twenty first century organizational effectiveness is all about gathering invaluable information to gain or maintain a competitive edge. If Steve Jobs is worried that he would not be able to manage the flow of information at Apple, he should consider another essential concept in organizational behavior, that is, knowledge management. Asking employees to “shut up and do their jobs” is a communication problem that is harmful to the organization (McNamara, 2008). Employees at Apple need to feel that they are trusted, integral parts of the organization.
If their need for belongingness is not met at Apple because Steve Jobs would neither communicate effectively with them nor allow them to open channels of communication among themselves – employees are highly unlikely to do their best at their jobs. What is more, Apple may very well lose its competitive edge soon enough, seeing that disgruntled employees would fail to satisfy Apple’s customers. Not permitting employees to effectively communicate with their employer would also obstruct the growth of the company. Steve Jobs does not want to admit this, but perhaps many of Apple’s employees are smarter than him!
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