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General Hospital’s Case of Conflict Management

The Conflict That Is Occurring at General Hospital

Instances of conflict are said to occur when one party feels that another party has negatively or always negatively affected equipment or a service that the first party cares or is supposed to manage (Javitch, 2007). According to the views of many, nothing is good or bad but our thinking makes it so. Thus in our case, the conflict that is occurring in the General Hospital is that with the nearby medical center having undergone renovations and acquiring modern hospital equipment, the General Hospital occupancy capacity dropped by 65%, Mike Hammer as the CEO decided that the hospital had to do away with the departments where the returns were low and increase investment in the departments where there was high patient capacity.

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With a 35% increase in Medicare and Medicaid patients, these government plans generated fewer revenues compared to private hospital plans and thus there was a need for the hospital to find survival mechanisms. Mr. Hammer realized that cutting costs to improve the promising current hospital services was the only option an issue the physicians openly refused to cooperate and this initiated the conflict between the CEO and the physicians.

With the little cooperation he received, Mr. Hammer hired a new Chief Operating Officer (COO); Miss Harding who was supposed to implement the cost-cutting strategies. Given the full authority by the CEO, she embarked on the process by automating the EKG system; this resulted in the firing of one of the most respected doctors in the hospital Dr. Boyer whom in all his life had never misinterpreted the EKG readings and had never delayed. While this was a positive dimension towards cutting the costs, the computerized EKG interpretations were wrong which resulted in misdiagnosis and misfiling.

The problem became so overwhelming that the hospital physicians got furious and they convened a meeting to discuss the issue. Though Miss Harding stuck with the adoption of the Automated EKG reading system, the physicians threatened to transfer all the patients to the nearby hospital. The conflict arose where some wanted the operating costs in the hospital to be cut and enable investments in a promising field. Physicians would hear none of it and thus the problems. Miss Harding entered into a conflict with the board of Trustees by firing Dr. Boyle (though she was not the one who had hired him) without even informing the board.

There was also a conflict between the COO and the board of directors, whereby after they convened a meeting, instead of her attending the meeting she sent her junior a situation that was not appreciated by the stakeholders. This kind of conflict is most of the time defined as an intergroup conflict in which disagreements and disputes arising from the different existing groups within an organization. In our case, the conflict was between the physicians and the management.

The Conflict Management Styles That Are Evident in the Case

The way an individual manages a conflict is perceived to be the preferred conflict management style. According to Copley (2008), a conflict management style is a “general and consistent orientation towards the other party and the conflict issues. Manifest in observable behaviors that form a pattern and share common characteristics over time”. (p.10)

The conflict management styles evident are The cooperative or collaborative problem-solving style whereby in this style, people try to find a solution that helps everyone meet their interests while still maintaining a cordial relationship. In the case of General Hospital, this is evident when the CEO Mike Hammer, during his early days, tried to convince the Director of Medicine that the staff physicians had to be cost-sensitive in their decision making to which the physicians adamantly refused to adhere to.

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When this failed, he later decided to employ the competing strategy; in this strategy, a person puts his or her interests before anyone else interests and most of the time those who use this style end up even ruining friendships. In the case of General Hospital, this was evident when Hammer hired Miss Harding as the Chief Operation Officer and gave her the unilateral authority of cutting the operating costs even if it meant placing new contracts and firing those employees who were not willing to adhere. This does not auger well with the other physicians especially after Dr. Boyle was fired and then she introduced the automated EKG reading machine which was giving poor instructions resulting in misdiagnosis: An issue that had never been experienced when Dr. Boyle used to give the EKG readings.

The last conflict management style that comes to play in the case of the General Hospital is the avoiding style. After Dr. Williams informed Mr. Hammer of the existing problem within the hospital and the organized meeting which was to be held late, Mr. Hammer did not attend the meeting on excuses that he was busy allowing the other members to go and discuss the issues alone though he knew that without his approval none of the proposals would work.

How General Hospital Could Have Used Teams to Address the Cost Reductions Needed to Stay Competitive

Mr. Hammer (the CEO) rather than hiring the new Chief Operations Officer Miss Hardin, should have organized a team to solve the cost reduction issues. The advantage of using teams over individuals is the fact that a group of individuals could have given a broader base of ideas on the cost-cutting strategies providing both the likely opportunities and challenges which could have arisen as a result of implementing the suggested cost reducing methods. This could have resulted in the creation of multiple solutions for solving the cost issues and the opposition and the problems which were faced could have been avoided thus finding a balance between the physicians and the hospital management.

How Hammer Can Use Negotiation Skills to Get Buy-In for the Cost Reductions

Mr. Hammer as the CEO of the General Hospital could have well known that the physicians would be interested in receiving some favors in return to the cost reduction strategies he was aiming at their departments. Instead of only concentrating on cutting the costs from their department he ought to have offered them some new investment proposals to make them feel fully involved in the cost-cutting strategies as this could have resulted in a win-win situation. He could also have organized the doctors according to their specialties (e.g. orthopedics, pediatricians, etc) and then scrutinize past cost records, analyze the patterns and then hold a consultation meeting with all involved parties to decide on the way forward.

A Strategy for Hammer to Resolve the Problem

As the CEO, Hammer should convene an emergency meeting with all the involved stakeholders, discuss his thoughts out and what he thinks should be done to reduce the operating costs to place the General Hospital in a competitive position. He should then discuss the negative and the positive outcomes likely to result from the cost-cutting strategies, ask them of their opinion and after reaching a consensus, forge the way ahead and implement the desired changes. Finally, rather than adopting an automated EKG interpretation system at once he should ensure that it is adopted slowly to withstand the challenges that may arise as a result.

Reference List

Copley, R.D. (2008). Conflict Management Styles: A Predictor of Likability and Perceived Effectiveness among Subordinates. Web.

Javitch, D.G. (2007). Conflict in the Workplace. Web.

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