Tips For Dealing With Inter-Office Conflict

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Inevitably, at some point we will all have to deal with inter-office conflict.  The following are some tips for how to handle conflict with co-workers when it arises:

  1. Use “I” statements.  It sounds cliché, but focus on YOUR feelings, not the other person’s actions.  Calmly explain how the person’s actions make you feel.  The louder you get, the more likely the person is to feel that you are attacking them, so try not to raise your voice.
  1. Step away from the computer.  E-mail is great for business purposes because it is fast and efficient.  However, it can also be easily misunderstood due to the impersonal nature of the communication.  If you receive an e-mail that upsets you, don’t just fire off an e-mail back.  Talk to the person face-to-face to get to the bottom of the situation.
  1. Pay attention to body language.  Pay attention to your posture and expression when discussing problems with a colleague.  Don’t tap your feet, cross your arms or furrow your brow.  All such actions indicate that you are closing yourself off and are offensive or defensive gestures indicating conflict.  Try to maintain eye contact and keep your body language open by maintaining a relaxed posture with your arms to your sides.
  1. Call a time-out.  If you and a colleague are talking in circles or you feel like an explosion is inevitable, take a break.  A walk around the block or floor can help you organize your thoughts and calm down.
  1. Find a referee.  During a disagreement, it can be difficult to hear what the other person is saying because you are busy finding fault with his or her argument or thinking about what you want to say next.  Ask a supervisor or other impartial co-worker to act as mediator.
  1. Meet in the middle.  If you can’t reach an agreement on what to do, try to compromise.  It doesn’t have to end with one person right and the other wrong.

A Happy Employee is a Productive Employee

English: Ken Olsen's primary concern about cus...
English: Ken Olsen’s primary concern about customers and employees “Our Employees are our greatest Asset” was distributed on a coffee mug, to encourage all employees. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business owners cannot afford to forget how important it is to inspire, motivate, and empower their employees, especially in tough economic times.  Great business owners value loyalty and know that they have a responsibility to edify and encourage their employees.  Bad business owners forget that their support staff needs their support, too.

Great leaders know how to inspire and motivate their employees.  They work to create an environment that supports, develops, and expands employee creativity and productivity.  They encourage initiative, nurture decision-making abilities, and supply their employees with opportunities to be successful.

Here are several ways business owners and managers can encourage and motivate their employees:

1.  Keep the lines of communication open.  Be open about expectations and willing to listen to suggestions or problems.

2.  Freely give praise when deserved.  Don’t be one of “those bosses” whose employees only hear from them when they have made a mistake.  That’s encouraging.  Acknowledge when your employees have done a good job, and be intentional about letting them know that not only do you value their contributions, but you value them.

3.  Implement a system of rewards or an incentive program to recognize employee contributions.  Bonuses are great.  In tough economic times, however, it may be impossible to reward an employee adequately with a bonus.  You can also give gift cards, extra vacation time, or even treat them to lunch as a thank-you for their hard work.

4.  Be a coach, not a dictator.  Coaches provide feedback and encouragement in an effort to help develop a person’s skills.  Dictators just want the job done their way and don’t care if a person becomes better.

5.  Don’t throw an employee in the deep end.  Before giving an important task to an employee, make sure that they have the right skills, knowledge, and resources to complete the task well.  Failing at an assigned task because it is beyond their expertise or ability will do nothing to motivate or empower an employee.

What are the best ways that you have found to encourage and motivate your employees?  Do you do ENOUGH to encourage and motivate them?