Relationships – What NOT to Do

As a conclusion to our discussion on workplace relationships this month, this week we are going to focus on what NOT to do. Our last post addressed what to do to ensure that a potentially problematic relationship or situation with an employee doesn’t cause excessive friction at work, resulting in a loss of productivity and morale. What are the no-no’s? What are some things you should avoid to ensure not only that conflicts are resolved quickly and efficiently, but possibly prevented in the first place?

Poor Communication

Being a poor communicator as a manger is quite possibly one of the worst things you can do to sabotage relationships with your employees. One of the leading causes of conflict in the workplace, failing to communicate anything from changes in tasks and duties, alterations in policies and procedures, and even the day-to-day pleasantries can make your employees feel undervalued, allows them to form (often wrong) assumptions, and perpetuates the dreaded rumor mill. This in turn leads to the decrease in productivity and morale that we all strive to avoid.

Avoiding Conflict

Right next to poor communication, attempting to avoid conflict (often with the sincere desire to prevent even more conflict) can cause irreparable damage to the relationships you have with your employees. There is no escaping conflict. Much like being attentive to the needs of your employees, it is vital to the maintenance of a harmonious workplace that you are able to recognize conflict, understand why the problems have developed and escalated, and can successfully bring about a quick and fair resolution. If any of these important steps of conflict resolution are skipped over or avoided, the issues can fester and quickly develop into deep resentment and ongoing friction.

Lack of Attention

Part of being a good leader is being in tune with the needs of your employees. When your employees are dissatisfied, productivity and performance suffer. Conflict is an inevitable side effect of dissatisfaction, particularly discord between a manager and an employee when the employee feels their manager doesn’t care about their professional (and often personal) needs. Be attentive. Many employees need ongoing performance feedback and input, some require regular pep talks and one-on-ones, and others simply want to ensure that they are valued. By knowing specifically what each individual needs, you are paving the way for trusting workplace relationships built on mutual respect.

Poor communication, avoiding conflict, and being inattentive to the needs of your employees are three surefire ways to sabotage your workplace relationships. Being an effective communicator, recognizing and quickly resolving conflict, and being in tune with the individual needs of each employee are skills you can constantly work on to ensure that you can not only effectively manage workplace conflict, but can mitigate and avoid it, allowing you to focus your energy on further developing meaningful and loyal relationships with each and every employee.

Managing a Difficult Relationship

We have been talking about relationships in the workplace this month, addressing the various components that define a “good” workplace relationship, and discussing how to deal with romantic relationships that are often bound to pop up between coworkers. Now that we have outlined a few of these relationship-related topics, another applicable and important factor that we often have to deal with at work how to manage a difficult situation. What should you do when a relationship goes south? How do you manage a disgruntled employee and prevent the situation from turning toxic and disruptive?

Mentoring and providing guidance is part of managing employees. When it comes to your attention that an employee is having a difficult time or is irritated about something, it is always best to nip it in the bud and address the situation before it gets out of hand, potentially affecting morale and productivity.

Actively Listen

One of the most powerful tools you have the ability to listen. Active listening is hard work and involves the active search for meaning. The receiver reserves judgment, weighs words, and places himself or herself in the sender’s position. The goal is to receive as much of the original meaning as possible. By actively listening and focusing on what your employee’s are trying to communicate, you don’t only fully comprehend their message and needs, but it proves to them that you genuinely care about their problems and truly want to work with them to reach a solution or compromise.

Don’t Take Things Personally

It is important to note that while emotions are valid and at times, warranted, it is important try not to take things personally, particularly if the frustration has to do with management. If an employee comes to you with an issue that has to do with you, with process, or with management in general, focus on channeling your energy into productive ways to address and rectify the situation rather than feeling irritated and resentful as a result of the conflict. You cannot control another individual’s emotions or behavior, but you can manage your own reactions and how you respond and move forward.

Engage the Other Party

Everyone has the basic desire to feel important. This need to feel important drives how people operate and see the world. The desire to feel important is different for each person. The key to successful interactions with your employees is to understand that this need is satisfied differently than yours. Particularly when your employees are upset or dissatisfied in any way, make them a part of the solution. Not only will their engagement and participation in finding a mutually beneficial situation make them feel appreciated, but encouraging their involvement in being a part of the solution can help increase morale and loyalty, in turn minimizing the risk of future conflict.

Conflict is an inevitable part of managing employees. That being said, there are ways to mitigate and manage conflict in the workplace to ensure that your relationships with your employees continue in a positive, productive, and peaceful manner. Your employees are your best resource. Having the tools in place to effectively handle workplace conflict can make the difference in having mediocre interactions with your employees and building and maintaining long-lasting, respectful, and positive workplace relationships.

Love is in the Air!

Valentine’s Day is swiftly approaching this weekend and love is in the air. In our personal lives, many of us are gearing up for a day of romances and surprises. At work however, there are boundaries that need to be adhered to, particularly during this week in which love abounds.

It is a simple reality that people spend much of their time at work and end up sharing their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and intimacies with co-workers, so it is inevitable that many friendships blossom into romantic relationships. How do you keep this from becoming disruptive and problematic?

The key for any organization is to manage these relationships rather than banning them all together. Has your organization established written guidelines that can create a fair and professional environment? Such guidelines should include standards of conduct expected of all employees, mention of fraternization, and other applicable factors pertaining to romantic workplace relationships. Consider offering an open discussion on these guidelines to answer any questions that may arise and clarify what is and is not acceptable in the workplace.

There are a few simple rules that most companies adhere to: Avoid relationships that can create a conflict of interest (e.g. managers and their subordinates) as this tends to cause perceptions of favoritism and evoke concerns regarding breaches of confidentiality. Require that employees do not flaunt their affections at work. Such excessive display is unprofessional and causes discomfort amongst other employees. As it applies to many aspects of employment, treat your coworkers with respect and dignity.

HRCentral specializes in assisting organizations with mitigating potential conflict that may arise with challenging workplace situations, including those that may arise regarding workplace relationships. Contact us if you have any questions regarding creating policies that apply to romance in the workplace or if you have any concerns with any difficult situations.

What is a “Good” Relationship?

It’s the month of February and with Valentine’s Day looming, relationships are a force to be reckoned with. Just as they are in your personal life, establishing and maintaining successful relationships in the workplace is an important aspect in the success of your career. (more…)