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Tag Archives: workplace conflict

Is fear a good management style?

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?

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Language in the workplace: should leaders and managers swear?

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?

 

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Employee issues – capability and conduct

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.

Capability

Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health

Qualification

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.

Ill Health

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.

Conduct

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:

  • Theft
  • 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

 

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It’s not nice when people ‘snap’ is it? Here are some anger diffusion techniques

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…

Diffusing Anger

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.

Make sure you communicate clearly by: 

  • 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.

 

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The inevitability of workplace conflict

It’s inevitable that at some point managers will have to deal with workplace conflict of some kind. Why is it inevitable? Because people are involved and it’s human nature for people to have differing opinions, therefore managers need to know how to identify potential problems.

But that’s just the start; they then need to step in to resolve issues in such a way that they actually have a positive outcome for the individuals involved, the team as a whole and the task.

Not too difficult then!

Walk into any office in the world, talk to the staff and you will be given any number of reasons why people get annoyed and irritated by their colleagues – anything from talking loudly to being ignored in meetings.

It’s all workplace conflict and it’s possible to put these into three categories:

Intrapersonal: this is conflict within the individual, for example, frustration with goals or achievements or when we are at odds with a decision we have to make. This type of conflict often leads to…

Interpersonal: this is between individuals. This could typically be a disagreement with a boss, an argument with a colleague, or a heated debate in a meeting.

Intergroup: this is between groups, teams and departments in the workplace and often stems from a lack of understanding of how one another works and how one impacts on the other. 

By the same token, we can also put what causes conflict neatly into three categories:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first one is Communication. Whether it’s sarcastic, insincere or just plain lying, infrequent and ineffective communication can lead to any number of conflicts.

Personal issues can cause conflict whether through a difference of opinion, differing personalities, or a perceived lack of respect or empathy.

People can sometimes view the Process as wrong, ineffective or inefficient and hold the belief that things should be done in a different way and this where conflict stems from.

At Catalyst we can show you how best to deal with such conflicts, eradicate personal and communication problems and make process issues work in your favour. Check out our website for more information and to book a course:

http://www.cbduk.biz/Book_Leadership_workshop.asp

 

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