Presentation on theme: "Solving Interpersonal Conflict on the Job A Deer Oaks Presentation A resource you can trust."— Presentation transcript:
Solving Interpersonal Conflict on the Job A Deer Oaks Presentation A resource you can trust
Goals of this Training Seminar 1. Why resolve conflicts? 2. Identify the high costs of conflict. 3. Is conflict inevitable? 4. The role of the supervisor. 5. Empowering employees to solve their own interpersonal conflict. 6. Evaluation & feedback.
Why resolve conflicts? Conflict can cause: –Lost time –Wasted resources –Decline in efficiency When resolved, conflict can lead to: –New ideas –Better decision-making –Improved performance
The costs of workplace conflict In the job setting, unresolved tensions can lead to: –Serious losses of productivity. –Loss of trust. –A damaging work culture. –A negative reputation for the company. –Frequent absenteeism. –Unnecessary turnover. Other costs in your workplace?
Conflict is inevitable As long as there is more than one person in any work setting, some degree of conflict will naturally occur. But misunderstandings do not have to lead to unresolved conflicts and tension.
When employees complain Employees routinely have complaints about each other. Sometimes complaints are made at a lateral level (to other employees), and sometimes they are made vertically (to a supervisor or subordinate). Sometimes complaining is appropriate, and sometimes it is not.
Lateral complaints Sometimes employees complain to each other about another co-worker. The employee may be seeking validation of a concern or perspective. Keep conversations private. Close the door. Define and maintain the boundaries of the communication. Develop a problem-solving approach. The intent must never be to gossip.
Vertical complaints - 1 Sometimes employees take their complaints to subordinates. This suggests possible feelings of insecurity and recruiting others to be in your camp. It can be unprofessional and inappropriate. It forces subordinates to have to choose in situations where they should not be involved, much less be forced to pick sides. It also gives a negative impression of you.
Vertical complaints - 2 Sometimes employees take their complaints to the supervisor. This should only be entertained when the employee’s own attempts to resolve the conflict have failed. Define and respect the boundaries of the communication. Maintain a problem-solving stance. Do not encourage tattling or gossip.
Bottom-line: No Gossip Allowed Regardless of whether the attempt to resolve the conflict is lateral or vertical, the bottom- line rule must be: No Gossiping. Focus on problem- solving only.
An example for discussion Bobby, who works in the cubicle next to mine, deals with his personal problems over the phone at work. For instance, he fought with his partner the other day and he began to raise his voice. The conversation was very distracting to me; moreover, when he raised his voice I could not concentrate on my work. On another day, Bobby was singing to himself so loud I could not hear the client I was speaking to over the phone. At times I do enjoy his music and at times we go out to lunch together, but I don’t know how to approach him when his behavior is distracting me from my work and negatively affecting my work performance.
Examining this fictional situation If you were Anne, what would you have done in this situation? What would you not have done? Do you think Anne overstepped her responsibility? If so, why? If not, why not? Where are the conflicts in this situation? Whose responsibility is it to resolve which conflict? What alternative behaviors may have prevented this situation?
When supervisors err A common error made by many supervisors is taking direct responsibility for resolving employee conflict. What are the dangers of supervisors intervening in employee conflict? How does a supervisor decide when to intervene and when to empower employees to handle their own conflicts?
Sometimes supervisors need to “push back” The “hands-off” approach allows you to focus on your own work. It forces employees to develop conflict- resolution skills of their own. It decreases their dependency on you. It means that you cannot be accused of favoritism or of taking sides. Must be applied consistently.
Another fictional case example Aaron comes to you with the complaint that he is having problems getting along with Dan. “I can’t stand working with Dan. He interrupts me all the time and I cannot get my work done. When I make time to talk to him, he either does all the talking or he asks all kinds of nosy questions and then goes and repeats my business to others. I swear, Dan has no boundaries whatsoever. Please do something about him!”
The three errors of intervention If you the supervisor intervene in this situation, you may end up committing any of three critical errors: 1. You send the message that problem-solving is always top-down. 2. You’re hurting your own job performance. 3. You’re missing a valuable opportunity to coach your employees in conflict-resolution.
Your Role as a Coach Overly dependent employees are a corporate liability. Organizations benefit more from employees who can think independently, analyze problems, and develop effective solutions. Coaching employees to handle their own conflicts initially takes time. But in the long run you help create a culture in which problem-solving is everyone’s responsibility, not just the manager’s.
Some final thoughts 1. Just because an issue is urgent does not mean that it is important. Don’t burn yourself out dealing with petty conflicts. 2. Listening and supporting is not the same as taking ownership. 3. Think of conflict training as your fire drills; do them often even if a fire never occurs. 4. Training should be ongoing; this workshop is therefore just a start.
More final thoughts 5. Set clear guidelines for employee behavior. 6. Coach employees to focus on behavior and its consequences, and not on personality. 7. Avoid making or encouraging subjective judgments. 8. Managing conflict should be a core competency, regardless of an employee’s position in the company.
More final thoughts 9. Remember that the absence of complaints does not mean the absence of conflict – so keep that open door policy in place. 10. But don’t let employees go back to using your office as the official “dumping ground”. 11. Include conflict-resolution as part of the performance appraisal process. 12. Help to create a culture in which conflict management is valued and appreciated.
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