How would your business run without any employees?
Not very well, huh? When you consider all that your employees do to keep your business going, they are crucial…almost as important as your customers.
Yet having employees isn’t easy, is it? You pay them, pay a portion of their taxes and if they are lucky…you offer employees benefits. On the other side of the coin, employees offer a valuable function to any business and offer such benefits as:
• The “front line” for your business in some cases
• All-important customer service
• Create loyal customers
• Receive crucial feedback from customers on products / services
• Offer suggestions to improve work flow efficiency
Without employees the wheels of progress would come to grinding halt. Your staff is indispensable. But one thing I guarantee that you have encountered conflict and disputes with and between your employees. Disputes come with the human element and stem mainly from conflict, rumor and backbiting.
For example, the last thing you need is Bob following Stan onto the sales floor continuing their “discussion” that started in the break room over some disagreement. In this case I could care less about the reason for the dispute, but don’t bring your “dirty laundry” out in public. Through quality employee conflict training the negative effect of these situations can be lessened.
Okay, I think I have adequately established that your company is made up of individuals, would you agree? All of these individuals come from diverse backgrounds. Ah, but if we were all the same, imagine how boring the world would be. In some cases I think we would take boring over yelling, screaming and complaining…huh? Anyway back to being serious, it is a fact that individuals think differently and communicate uniquely. Those characteristics make conflicts highly probable. First the cause of the conflict needs to be determined.
Five causes of conflict (Booher, 1999)
1. Personality – one individual may be an introvert and the other an extrovert.
2. Goals – consider two driven employees having their objectives conflict.
3. Values – the most difficult disputes concern individual values. Values are very deep seeded in a person’s life and are therefore important.
4. Issue – consider two employees wishing to take vacation at the same time.
5. Facts – these facts are sources, authorities and definitions.
Keep in mind because we live in an imperfect world, sometimes the cause of conflicts may not be from just one cause. Oh, this is the good part…sometimes the conflict arises from more multiple causes. So, the source of the conflict needs to be identified. Conflicts will always be a concern. Will resolving conflicts make projects and your business run more efficiently? The answer is a resounding, YES!
Specifically when individuals are brought together for a team project, barriers can arise from one or more of three sources:
1. Your company
2. The team leader
3. Team members
Your company may lack resources: time, money, or supplies. So, employees may fight over these specific resources like a pack of wolves…or starving piranha. This blood-letting may be alleviated by restructuring which could mean:
• Eliminating staff
• Acquiring more financing
• Locating more efficient suppliers
The team leader may be unwilling to take risks, share information and ultimately share leadership of the group. This is why it is so important to place compatible people in teams with capable and complementary leaders. Leaders must be able to:
• Gain “buy-in” from team members in whatever the task may be.
• Have the respect of the team members
• Have open communication with the team and its members
• Periodically take stock of the member’s requirements
• Get feedback from members and make changes if need be
• Track progress and contribution of each team member
Team members may fail to provide and solicit feedback, work with minimum supervision, or speak up when he or she disagrees with the team leader or team members. Make it clear that team members are required to:
• Provide honest feedback on the project and members contributions
• Empower one another with accountability to the team as a whole
• Communicate when disagreements arise
I mean really…can’t we all just get along!