Monday, 12 August 2013

Managing Conflict at Work

Over the years I have observed that many managers struggle with dealing with conflict at work, and I include myself in that. I have had to deal with personality clashes between team members, resolve instances of harassment and dealt with conflicts with another manager over competing priorities and resources. Managing conflict is never easy but there are some practical steps that you can take as a manager to minimise the likelihood of it happening in the first place as well as deal with it when it does. I find that the following are particularly useful: • Set clear expectations. It is vital to be clear with your staff that you expect them to behave professionally and work in a cooperative and effective manner with their colleagues. I do not expect my staff to be ‘best friends’ but I do expect them to behave professionally and find it unacceptable when someone complains that they cannot work with a colleague because they ‘don’t like them’ or ‘cannot get on with them’. • Monitor team relationships. Being clear about your expectations is one thing, but you also need to monitor the interactions and behaviour of team members too. It is important to keep an eye on what is happening in the workplace, and during meetings etc. • Deal with issues promptly. I have found it invaluable to intervene quickly in cases of conflict and confront the problem head on. My own experience has been that people generally don’t resolve the conflict on their own, and it more often that not escalates into something far more serious. • Learn to act as a mediator. One of the most effective things I have learned is how to act as a mediator to resolve a conflict between team members. Mediation is not about taking sides, it’s about facilitating discussion and agreement. In a mediation situation, it is not you that makes the decision; it is the two parties that agree to the decision. • Use official procedures if necessary. It may be necessary to invoke the use of disciplinary or grievance procedures. Being prepared to use official procedures demonstrates how seriously complaints and issues are taken. • Watch your own behaviour! As a manager it is important that you maintain a professional presence by not engaging in office gossip, backbiting or inappropriate behaviour, and keeping any issues confidential. I remember once working for a guy who was very unprofessional in the way he dealt with issues and it had a big impact on the behaviour and morale of our team. Many managers struggle with managing conflict at work as managing conflict is never easy. However, I have outlined above some practical steps that you can take as a manager to minimise the likelihood of conflict happening in the first place as well as deal with it when it does. Conflict is inevitable and managers need to have the skills and be able to manage conflict. Our conflict management training courses enable managers to successfully resolve challenging conflict at work. To find out more click here: Or contact us on 0845 409 2346 / click here:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

How Not To Get On in Your Organisation!

Today there is intense competition for products and services and even stiffer competition for jobs. The one thing no one needs to do is make matters worse by shooting themselves in the foot. Over the years, I've noticed a number of behavioural traits that really annoy the hell out of managers, and particularly senior executives. I’m not talking about things that might annoy slightly but career-limiting behaviour that's actually bad for the business, and far outweigh whatever benefits the employee thinks they bring to the organisation. I have seen bright, intelligent and capable people dig deep holes for themselves when they thought they were doing the right thing, but they weren't! While I've typically been on the annoyed side of the equation, I have to admit, I'm not a paragon of virtue and I have been on the annoying side several times myself -- and really, really wished I hadn't. So be forewarned. Here's are the some types of employee you really don't want to be: • Know-it-all. Everyone dislikes a know-it-all, but it's particularly annoying to managers who didn't get to where they are by not knowing what they don't know. And they know you don't have all the answers, either. • Buck passer. This type of person won't engage and he won't be held accountable. You tell him over and over to take responsibility and get on with it and he says okay, but it never happens. When you follow up, all you get are excuses, and the things that he didn’t deal with just end up on your plate! • Similar to the above is the ‘Trust me’ person. If you're a star performer who has proved your worth time and again, then you're one of an elite group of trusted individuals. But if you're not in that category, saying "trust me" or "don't worry" to a skeptical manager sends up a red flag a mile high. Just don't do it. • "I can do anything you want." For some reason, some employees think that, no matter what you want or need, all they have to do is smile and say, "Sure, I can do that" - whether they can or can't. They mistakenly think that's a "can-do" attitude. It's not. It's promising what you can't deliver! • Similar to the above is the "yes" person. Say what you will about managers wanting their staff to kowtow to them, but successful managers want to know the truth, and they want it straight. To them, sugar-coating "yes" people are simply a pain and not worth employing. • Talk, talk, talk, Most senior managers are pressed for time. They want you to tell them what they need to know, listen to what they have to say, and then leave them! If they want a social chat they will let you know! • The Victim. Most things ending up being a drama, whether it’s a personal issue, a co-worker who is out to get them, or a litany of excuses. Whatever it is, it's more important than getting things done. • Bureaucrat. Responds to every request with a boatload of inane reasons why he or she can't do it or arcane things that must happen first. The opposite of a flexible, “can-do” attitude. • "This is how we did it at XYZ company." It's one thing to apply your experience to new situations, but you can't just blindly assume that because it worked there, it'll work here. Every situation is different; there are lots of ways to do things, and one size rarely fits all. Besides, it's really annoying. As I mentioned above, I've noticed a number of behavioural traits that really annoy the hell out of managers, (and me!), and while I’m sure the above isn’t an exhaustive list it’s important for us all to recognise these annoying habits and avoid them as ultimately they are bad for the business and can be very career limiting! Some effective managers have recognised these traits in themselves and sought the help and guidance of one of our experienced coaches and are amazed by the impact that our coaching has on their work satisfaction and career as a whole. We have lots of case studies and testimonials on our website so visit to find out more.