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?
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.
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.