Monday, July 29, 2013

Managing Employee Differences

imageThis article was written by Barry Mc Kinley, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

It is human nature that when more than two people work together there will be conflicts and disagreements. This tends to happen more frequently in companies that lack accountability and where the management is not properly trained. These conflicts can also be caused by companies that are struggling or that are in industries that are in a state of turmoil or flux. The expense to the company can be high due to time wasted and “He Said-- She Said” arguments. These struggles can lead to employee’s resigning, customers discontinuing doing business with your company and lawsuits and legal action. Learning to work with difficult employees requires using proactive steps and the willingness to have challenging conversations. If you have that problem person you need to consider the following;

If the person is doing a good job for your company but does not work well with others, can they be placed on job assignments where they work on their own? At the same time you need to make the employee aware of why you are doing this. Be clear in your explanation that on the occasional interaction with fellow employees they won’t create problems. It would still be prudent to investigate the cause and possible solution for the disagreements.

If this is not possible you must determine the reason for these conflicts and how to resolve. Meet with the person that seems to be the main focus of all conflicts to hear their side and opinions. Listen closely to determine if the causes are created by company policy, other employees or the lack of the problem employee not willing to fit in. This type of conversation is very hard for many managers but must happen if the problem will ever be resolved. Using the ostrich strategy just produces worst results and additional turmoil.

The problem employee needs to be made aware of what the outcome might be if the situation is not resolved. For example you might choose the policy of the employee receiving two warnings with discussion and the third offense is termination. To make this effective and send a message to the other employees you MUST follow your policy.

In your discussions with the difficult employees you may want to ask some of the following questions;

· What would you like to see happen?

· What does that look like for you?

· What does it take to be able to move forward?

· What are your suggestions to obtain those goals?

· Are you willing to except part of the impact of the situation?

· Would you like to hear my opinion?

· What are your suggestions to meet both our needs?

· What has been the most disconcerting part of this situation?

· What is most important to you?

Continuing open communication with employees helps to eliminate staff problems. Making sure you have clear-cut concise job descriptions, with well-defined levels of responsibility and brief description of management responsibilities. Many times employee conflicts start over who is in charge and who supervises whom. Make sure that is clear to all employees.

Employee turnover is extremely costly to your business and its customers. Good management on your part of employee conflicts will keep your business running smoothly and profitable.