Conflict, tension, …whatever you want to call it. Not a favorite for many, but it certainly has its place. It moves the needle. It draws light to areas for improvement. It can draw relationships closer together. You can find it most anywhere.
Learning how to work through conflict can ease the angst. Whether you are having problems with an employee at work or have recently gone through a big change you aren’t liking or having problems at home with a loved one, these three simple things can help you navigate and get a grip on conflict. Take conflict from a negative and turn it into something productive.
1. Stop telling yourself stories – our brain has a way of taking something small (or big) and making it bigger in our minds. You know what I’m talking about. You tell yourself what the other person is thinking, why they are acting this way, and what their feelings and intentions are. We make it up in our heads and I’d venture to guess that at least 8 times out of 10, our story is way more dramatic than it really is. The truth is you don’t know any of these things until you talk about it!
“I wanted to stop by and tell you something, but I don’t want you to say anything.” Sound familiar? As an HR professional, it is sometimes hard to know who to tell and who not to tell. It can also be just as tricky to know how to properly safeguard information so that only those that need to know, do. So what’s actually considered confidential?
The answer? Much of it. Much of the information kept within HR should be confidential. Employee records must be maintained in such a way that only certain HR employees have access to employee data and information should be closely guarded through proper security measures. What does this mean? If records are electronic, access should be thoroughly safeguarded and if information is paper, it should be guarded via lock and key. Health information must also be maintained with a high degree of security and are generally to be stored separately from an employee’s file. An audit of employee files and safeguarding practices should help you gauge the strength of internal controls around employee information.
Various versions of the mantra, “To be unclear is to be unkind” have been stated by leadership gurus like Brene Brown and Dave Ramsey, and I can identify with their perspective. As leaders, we can’t ignore issues, and it doesn’t serve anyone to dance around the elephant in the room in hopes that it will magically go away. Caring about your team members means having the courage to deliver difficult feedback. They say the best friends, true friends, are the ones that care enough to tell you something you don’t want to hear…but need to hear. We all know that we need to do the right thing in addressing employee issues, but it’s a tricky recipe of timing, empathy, attitude, and the list goes on. Here are three reminders I strive to incorporate as I prepare to address an employee issue.
1. Check your attitude and assumptions.
It’s so easy to go down the path of making assumptions and weaving a storyline in our heads about the motivations (or lack of motivation) of a team member. Harboring resentment is completely unproductive when it comes to handling an issue with an employee. The key is realizing the minute we start down this path. I personally find it helps to write those negative thoughts out…literally get all of my assumptions out of my head and down on paper. That way, I have the opportunity to move all my opinions to the side and focus on the facts and desired outcomes. I love how Henry Cloud positions how we should focus feedback: “hard on the issue, soft on the person”.
It would be unheard of to make it through a career without having coworker conflict along the way. They say that you spend the most time with those you work with, so it is only natural that situations will arise. When more than one person is involved, there will be conflict. Conflict in general is just a fact of life. Now that we’ve agreed there will be conflict, what is the best way to deal with it? Perhaps flushing out what not to do first would be best.
1. Don’t stir the pot. In other words, do anything that might add to the conflict. This includes gossiping about the issue, responding in a harsh tone, showing them who’s boss, or getting back at the individual. All these responses to conflict will certainly only escalate the issue. Not to mention your superior will be judging you on your response, so keep it professional. This point also addresses any conflict you might witness while at work. Getting others bothered over someone else’s actions is never helpful.
2. Don’t keep pushing the issue aside. In most cases it would prove beneficial to address the issue instead of pushing it aside. Instead of blowing up over a small issue, deal with the small issues one by one to avoid a larger conflict. A quick conversation with those involved, will go a long way.
Voluntary turnover is the number one factor influencing workforce planning needs according to the most recent AgCareers.com HR Review report. Industry employers cited voluntary turnover as most significant at 74.26%, well above things like retirements (38.61%) and recruitment difficulties (48.51%). It has always been a best practice to focus on retaining your A player employees, but it sounds like our industry human resource leaders are emphasizing the challenges they face there. Let’s dive into three common reasons good employees make the decision to leave their employer, along with potential safeguards to hopefully reduce departures.
When we keep someone who is unproductive and underperforming on a high performing team, we are rewarding (paying) for mediocre. Our A players can quickly become frustrated by the lack of results and dead weight, and they’ll begin looking elsewhere. Safeguard against this scenario by ensuring performance metrics are clearly outlined and measured, regardless of the role. This simple (but often surprisingly overlooked) action can serve to place accountability on the manager and team member, so performance and team dynamics can be addressed before good employees get fed up and leave.
Barbie® was integral to my childhood playtime, creating my own imaginary world, picturing myself as a veterinarian, or even a rock star someday. After all, Barbie said I could be anything! I didn’t foresee my adult work life actually intersecting with one of America’s most iconic toys, especially during an out-of-the-blue conversation with my 8-year-old child about job hopping.
“Mom, did you know Barbie has had 130 careers in her lifetime? AND, she’s only 58 years old!” That’s a new job every six months!” – my 8-year-old
“Barbie is a job hopper, my dear.” – my response
That’s some deep thinking by a child that already recognizes the concept of a career change in elementary school! The stats might be even higher, as the official Barbie media website indicates she’s had more than 150 careers on her resume. Born in 1959, that’s more than two new careers per year. Plus, Barbie wasn’t just changing jobs, she was going from an equestrian to an executive, a beekeeper to a bakery chef!
An employee will leave a company for a wide number of reasons, but what are those reasons? Is there a rumor that employees leave your company for the competitor down the street for more money, when in fact they just feel underappreciated? How will you know the difference if you don’t ask, and more importantly, how will you fix what you don’t know? The answer: conduct an exit interview
The only way to ensure good talent doesn’t leave is to actively fix the issues that are causing employees to walk out the door. It is easy to blame employee turnover on speculation, such as they didn’t seem to get along well with others, or they didn’t seem to really like their position. The real issue could be the employee had little to no training and didn’t understand the essentials of their position. Once the real reasons of turnover have been determined, management and human resources should work together to ensure issues are remediated. What’s the point in learning about a problem if it isn’t fixed? Taking the time to sit with employees and discuss their employment experience can be fruitful for both the manager and employee. The list below describes just some of the reasons exit interviews are so important.
1. What does your company do well? Good data about your company walks out the door once the employee leaves. Maybe there is a manager that excels at developing employees or the flexible scheduling is what most employees love about your company. These are good tidbits you might already have wind of but, having concrete data that shows employees love them is important to have. Good data also walks out the door once the employee leaves.
2. Last chance to make a good impression. While there are occasions that an employee may leave due to no fault of the company, if an employee is disgruntled, the exit interview may be the last opportunity to hear out and smooth out any issues. A dissatisfied employee may have no issue telling their neighborhood about ABC Company’s crass managers, for example. In turn, bad publicity may deter others from applying for open positions, thus prolonging any recruiting pains.
Our world at work is changing, and more people are working remotely than ever before. AgCareers.com has been no exception in embracing this trend, and we’ve grown to include more offsite employees in recent years. If I reflect on my own personal experiences, I would say managing remote team members is probably one of the hardest aspects of my role. This has nothing to do with the people who are offsite. It has everything to do with the level of intentionality required to successfully create a winning environment…and the journey is never really over in that regard.
We have to strive to keep learning from experiences, and continuously manage expectations from both perspectives. It’s very important to consider individual personalities and work styles. I’ve asked for feedback from remote team members here at AgCareers.com in order to compile three quick tips to keep in mind when you have a remote team.
Working late, during happy hour after work, over lunch, or a by-chance meeting outside of the office. You never know when or where an office romance may bloom for employees in your organization. While nothing is sweeter than two people finding their meant-to-be, an organization stands to possibly suffer from budding love.
While you may wish your staffers well, inevitably issues can creep in. Negative implications could quickly arise in the form of rumors, gossip, that leads to perceived favoritism, partiality, and bias. It doesn’t take much to lead someone down the thought path to discrimination. There could be loss of productivity, protocols and processes could be compromised. The company could suffer from the absence of both employees during family vacations and events. What happens when one of the two ends the relationship? How do they continue to do their jobs and remain cordial?
Do a simple internet search of “marijuana and the workplace” and you’ll likely find differing advice for each given year and state. Staying up to date on the latest news regarding marijuana in the workplace is a daunting task for any employer. As if the amount of information isn’t overwhelming enough, many sites offer conflicting information, making the task even more discouraging. What’s an employer to do when a once very black and white issue now seems so gray?
1. Check with your legal counsel. To ensure correct application of laws surrounding marijuana in the workplace, always consult with your legal counsel. As each state is different, your legal counsel will be able to give you the most relevant and up to date information.