Is your company’s culture causing problems? Do you find that employee morale is at an all-time low? Most importantly, are you concerned with your management’s inability to change? Unfortunately, many companies have an internal culture problem. Most companies are able to resolve their internal squabbles and put an end to the constant bickering. Unfortunately, some aren’t. For those unwilling, or unable to change, the consequences of inaction can be severe. Sometimes it means losing business and market share.
Category Archives: Workplace Conflict
Management techniques have been the subject of much empirical research for many years now and one of it’s students was American psychologist, Rensis Likert. He studied management styles for 30 years and came to the conclusion that there were four types of management systems. One of which was named “Exploitative Authoritative” and Likert defined this as consisting of:
- Threats, fear and punishment are used to motivate employees
- Managers at the top make all the decisions
- Concerns of those lower down are ignored
- The manager has little or no confidence or trust in employees
- There is little teamwork or communication between managers and subordinates
The thing about managing through fear is that although it may have the desired effect in the short term but it is not a sustainable way to manage people if you are looking to achieve long-term results by creating and maintaining the most productive workplace you can.
Fear as a motivator is little more than a scare tactic and for that reason the results of it are usually short lived. The consequences can often be more damaging, such as lower morale, which is notorious for spreading like wildfire and in turn becomes lower productivity anyway.
It’s a great way for a manager to alienate themselves from their people. They appear unapproachable, unreasonable and people don’t want to work for them. This can create relationships whereby people would rather just agree with their manager when being asked for their opinion, instead of saying what they really think. Once people are afraid to go against a figurehead’s point of view, their importance diminishes considerably as does their feeling of self-worth.
It’s also a risk that managing through fear could scare off even the best members of the team even if those tactics aren’t employed with them directly. They will soon seek employment elsewhere if they don’t like what they see – which is a style of management that cultivates dishonesty, ‘brown-nosing’ and colleague sabotage.
So can a leadership and management style ever be used to the benefit of the company and its employees? Have you ever been on the receiving end of such practises? Perhaps you think there are times when it’s appropriate to rule with an iron fist?
Some people couldn’t care less about swearing while others are highly offended by it. Bad language can be a divisive topic in it’s own right, but swearing at work seems to cause an even greater split.
There is evidence to suggest swearing in the workplace can have a positive impact on morale and relieve stress therefore boosting productivity, creating a better team spirit and improving bonds between colleagues.
The reason for this is that it enables people to be themselves and express themselves in a way that they naturally would outside of the office. When colleagues see this happening, it helps to break down barriers because you are seeing more of the personality behind the job title.
Others might argue that swearing is just rude, immature, unjustified, and a lazy way of expressing feeling. Of course, context is everything. It can be very easy to interpret swearing as nothing more than straightforward anger and aggression.
While cursing the computer system for crashing on you for the tenth time today may be seen as humorous, using foul language to abuse your boss for increasing your workload will probably paint you in a bad light.
But what about when bosses and managers swear? Does this make you feel comfortable? These are the people you are supposed to look to for leadership so you want to see someone who is strong and in control and if that means using ‘strong’ language then that’s great, right?
On the other hand, if the person managing your team is always ‘effing and blinding’, doesn’t this display a lack of control? Shouldn’t they be more sensitive to their team members since the negative consequences of not swearing surely outweigh the positives of swearing?
Think back to Barack Obama’s reaction to the BP oil spill when he was said not to care enough about the incident – until he told a reporter he wanted to find out “whose ass to kick”. And it was only recently that Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron was widely criticised for referring to a member of the opposition party as a “muttering idiot.”
In some workplaces, they play it safe by having a zero tolerance policy on swearing in any context, be it humorous, light-hearted or otherwise. Others may want to encourage an open environment, freedom of expression and so forth. Whatever is decided, it’s important to be consistent and practice what is preached.
What are your feelings on swearing in the workplace? How much depends on where you work? Would you speak out if you manager’s language made you uncomfortable?
Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.
Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:
- Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
- Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
- Lack of capability because of ill health
If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?
Poor Work Performance
It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.
You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.
It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.
A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.
As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.
Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:
- Poor timekeeping
- Poor attendance
Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:
- Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
- Consumption of alcohol while on duty
Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.
Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst
We’ve all been in jobs where the atmosphere is, shall we say, less than harmonious. People grumbling, gossip flying, unmotivated individuals and conflict galore. Nobody wants to spend eight hours of their day in a place like that.
While it’s not so straightforward to create and maintain a happy working environment but there are certain things that can be done to help cultivate one. The result is a more productive workplace with motivated personnel and a happy workforce.
There are so many factors at play so here are just five things that can help. We encourage you to let us know what works for you in the comments section below.
1. Be Positive
Show that you are positive, approachable and willing and able to lend a hand if asked. Even things like smiling and pleasantries convey a positive demeanour and people will remember you for a simple, ‘hi, how are you?’ Also, be respectful; do not engage in tittle-tattle or gossip, and ask questions before making assumptions – particularly when talking about other people.
2. Be Sociable
Be the one to buy someone a birthday cake or get the morning coffee and don’t be afraid to suggest a quick drink after work. Getting to know the people behind the job titles you see day in and day out can really stand you in good stead should problems arise.
3. Personal Space
Don’t invade personal space whether you are talking to someone at their desk or sitting next to them spilling paperwork everywhere. If you share a desk or workspace, come to a mutual agreement as to where the boundaries are and stick to it. This shows a mutual respect and means if there is a pre-arranged agreement both parties know where they stand.
4. Be Honest
Be ethical and do the right thing. Don’t promise things unless you know you will be able to deliver them. Whether that is a reward for a completed task or saying you will have something delivered by a certain time. If you say yes just to appease somebody then this will only lead to trouble further down the line so be honest about what you can and cannot do and don’t feel pressured into taking on too much responsibility.
5. Don’t Assign Blame
Or at least, don’t vocalise this even if you do think someone else is at fault. This normally leads to snippy remarks, arguments and a general unproductive and unpleasant atmosphere. If you are the one to appear only too happy to listen to the other person’s point of view and willing to show empathy then the person with whom you have a problem will likely be much more receptive to negotiation.
One source of feedback that we all use, when available, is other people. We notice how other people react to what we are doing. Their reaction might be positive, negative, planned or spontaneous.
Whatever their response, or lack of it, we will draw conclusions about what that response means. We are then likely to modify our behaviour based on those conclusions, especially if we consider the other person credible. Feedback drives us to change.
We modify our behaviour based on the conclusions we draw about someone else’s behaviour. How do we know our conclusions are correct? How do we know for sure that their behaviour was in response to ours?
Maybe that smile was a sign of approval for our actions, or maybe our actions just reminded them of something funny, or maybe they were daydreaming about a joke from the pub last night and didn’t even notice what we were doing.
Most feedback we get from other people is unintentional: that is, they don’t have a planned outcome in mind. They just react, and we then react. It is an informal process, but nonetheless very powerful.
As a manager, you need to be conscious of this power, and to be aware of what your body language and behaviour might be saying to people, because they will use it as feedback. To improve your informal feedback to others, you should be consistent in your approach and behaviour.
A small proportion of the feedback we receive from other people is given by them on purpose. And this kind of personal feedback can be incredibly useful.
In an ideal world, the other person gives us valid and useful information about what we are doing with our best interests in mind. In a less-than-ideal world, we sometimes get criticism.
We all know about criticism and the damage it can do to us – to our confidence and self esteem. But what is criticism and how is it different to feedback?
The simplest way to tell the difference is to consider whom the comments will benefit. Are they for the benefit of the giver or the receiver?
Feedback is for the benefit of the receiver. Its purpose is to help them grow and develop, and reinforce positive behaviour or actions.
On the other hand, criticism always benefits the giver. In most cases, it is done to make the giver feel in some way superior to the receiver. It is often negative and judgemental. It is in many cases subjective rather than objective and it is usually destructive.
Types of feedback
- Purposeful feedback can be divided into two types:
- Positive feedback
- Constructive feedback.
Positive feedback is also known as ‘praise’. This type of feedback is mainly used as a motivator. It recognises the good work that someone has done and rewards them for it.
Constructive feedback is letting someone know that they did not do something in an appropriate way, or that they did something incorrectly. The message is constructive and helps the individual to improve, rather than just being a message about what they shouldn’t do.
We have all at some time or another lost our temper and been around people who have lost theirs. You may even have found yourself in a confrontation where you need to diffuse the situation but be unsure of how to do it. There are certain disengagement techniques people use for just these types of situation.
In the workplace, it’s arguably even more important that we know how to deal with our emotions and, of course, that can include anger. So here are a few tips on…
To diffuse anger in a situation, one of the things to consider using are Distraction Techniques. But it’s important to recognise the following distraction techniques won’t work in every situation.
- Give the other person a direct command. Be assertive but be sure of your ground
- Be funny. But ensure the humour is directed at yourself and steer clear of sarcasm
- Pay the other person a compliment
Something else to consider when trying diffusing anger are Calming Techniques.
- Speaking softly
- Slowing down the conversation
- Sitting down with the other person
- Allow the other person to vent their frustration
- Show them you are listening by doing things like maintaining eye contact
Finally, see what solutions are possible which satisfy both parties. You can do this by:
- Trying to understand the situation from the other person’s perspective
- Listen to their ideas
- Put forward you own thoughts in an open way
It’s also important to remember that if you feel you are in danger in any way whatsoever, that you should remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
If there are any techniques that you have found particularly useful for these types of situation, we’d love you to share them in the comments section below.
Visit our website at http://www.cbduk.biz/Catalyst_Business_Academy.asp to see how we can help train your staff in soft skills just like these.