Article (January-2017)


Case Study - Behavioural conflicts lead to stress ?

Dr. Kavita Singh

Designation : -   Professor, O.B. FMS

Organization : -  University of Delhi, Delhi


365419 Total View        

The shrill rind of the telephone woke up Vikas Sethi. It was 1 a.m. His heart missed a beat for the fear of unknown when he picked up the phone. It was the security guard of his office building and he sounded very tense. He had found the back door of the office open and wanted Vikas  to come there as soon as possible. Vikas wondered as to what could have gone wrong and started to get ready to leave. The call had woken up his wife. She glared at him and indicated without saying a word that he locks the door from outside.

Vikas  was the general manager of All Time Service which began its operations 8 years ago. The company was in the business of providing services to customers anytime, anywhere. The owner, Seema Rastogi, had lost her husband 10 years ago and had started All Time Services to support her two children who were now teenagers. Vikas and Navneet Sikand, the operations manager, were the first two employee recruited by Seema. The total staff strength was 28 now.

While driving towards his office, Vikas  tried reflect on his work. His days at work had become monotonous and so full of work that he was exhausted by the time he reached home. The frustration was so much that it was affecting his behavior at home. Arguments with his wife had increased lately, and he often found himself scolding his two children for minor things that would not have had an impact in him earlier.

There had been a major crisis in the office 2 days ago. The chairperson reached the office in a state of fury and demanded the monthly report which she had to present in the board meeting. She had to review the report so that she was prepared to answer the questions posed by the board. The report was to have been prepared by Vikas, but he had not been able to complete it on account of other work pressures. He blamed himself internally for his oversight. After the chairperson has left, Vikas went to Navneet to tell him that he needed a clerical person to help him out with this kind of routine work. Navneet was of the opinion that the company was already overstaffed and  with so many competitors in the same field, it had become difficult to get new clients. He observed that they were also losing their permanent client to competitors. The expenses on additional manpower would only make matters worse. Navneet took these remarks personally as he felt that Vikas was hinting at the performance of two new employees who were hired on Navneet's recommendation. This led to an argument between the two which ended up in Vikas walking out of Navneet's room.

When Vikas came out of his room in the afternoon, he saw three customers waiting at the front office with no one to attend them. He attended to their needs personally. After the customers had departed, he went to look for the three front office attendants who were supposed to be at the reception. He found two of them sitting at the coffee bar and one attending to a personal call on his mobile. This sent his blood boiling, and he summoned all three of them to his office. He yelled at them and demanded an explanation. They kept their heads down and said nothing. He then called their supervisor Naman  Malhotra to account for this. Naman had been with the company for the past 4 years and was considered an asset to the organization. Vikas asked Naman for an explanation. Naman replied that he had no control over the attendants as   they were directly reporting to Navneet. Whenever he would  try to ask them for reasons for their misconduct, Navneet would interfere and ask Naman to mind his own business. Naman complained that he was losing all control over his subordinates. Vikas  was thoroughly frustrated by this time, but he still tried to keep his cool.

Before leaving in the evening, he called on his secretary (appointed on Navneet,s recommendation) and asked for the letter that he had asked her to type. While going through the letter, Vikas noticed two glaring mistakes that had changed the entire context of the letter. He decided to stay back and retype the letter.

As he drove down to his office after the telephone call from the office guard, he wondered how the grave mistake of leaving the backdoor open could have happened. Who was the last person to leave the office? As far as he could remember, when he left yesterday, Navneet was the only person remaining in the office. So, was Navneet responsible or could it be someone else?

Questions for Discussion
1.    What symptoms of stress is Vikas exhibiting in this situation?

2.    Is Vikas exhibiting any symptoms of bias in this situation? If yes. How?

3.    Identify the sources of stress for Vikas. Is he responsible himself for this?

4.    How can Vikas improve the situation and manage his stress?

5.    How could the organization help Vikas alleviate his stress?