Situation: Vicki is an employee in a small training company. Her boss, Maria, has been frustrated with Vicki’s lack of initiative, inability to prioritize her workload, and her lack of interpersonal skills. Vicki is frustrated with Maria because she thinks her boss expects too much from her and the pace of the work is much too fast for a small company. Vicki has been taking a lot of “sick” days lately and is often not following through with small assignments. The following conversation is just one of many “small” conflicts that has been going on for approximately six months now. Read the dialogue given below, and then, answer the discussion questions that follow.
Maria: Hey, Vicki. I was wondering where you put that file for the Spring Conference next week.
Vicki: Which one? You give me a lot of files.
Maria: The really big blue one with our logo on the front.
Vicki: That’s the one you said you’d follow up on. I just assumed you did.
Maria: No, I remember very distinctly from our debriefing session that you said you wanted to do it because you had worked with Ed on last year’s conference. We all took different assignments, and that’s the one you took.
Vicki: I definitely took a lot of assignments, but the Spring Conference folder wasn’t one of them.
Maria: Okay . . . I guess what we really need to do is not figure out who lost it, but where the file is now.
Vicki: Who “lost” it? It was never mine, so how could I lose it? I’m sick of always being blamed for everything that goes wrong around here. If everyone would just sit still for a minute, maybe all this stuff wouldn’t fall through the cracks.
Maria: Wait a second. I wasn’t blaming you for anything! I just really need to find the folder. I’m wondering where it is, and I need to write the follow-up evaluations.
Vicki: Well, I don’t have it. (Vicki returns to completing her timesheet on the computer).
(Maria retreats to her office and doesn’t say what’s really on her mind. She’s trying not to get too angry. She meets with another colleague later that afternoon and asks the colleague what his thoughts are about Vicki as their support staff.)
Answer the following question
- Do you think that this conflict between Vicki and Maria could have been prevented?
- Should Vicki and Maria just drop the conflict and not discuss it at all?
- What do you think Maria and Vicki could do to prevent more of this potentially time-wasting and destructive conflict?