Ways Managers Are Inattentive to Employee Conflict
Not slowing down long enough to understand the broader picture or focus your attention in the other direction shortchanges your staff and weakens your reputation. When you have your head down in front of the computer or when you’re barreling along to meet a deadline, you may cause ripples in the pond without even knowing you threw the pebble.
How you present situations to your team impacts their reactions. If you’re always fired up, your crew will likely follow suit. A hyper-emotional approach to problems cultivates the feeling that no one has an eye on finding solutions. Keep day-to-day reactions below a simmer, so when things do get tough, your employees don’t boil over. You set the example, and your team is looking to you for direction.
Misunderstanding the real issues
Looking at the surface issues of disagreements and ignoring the underlying values and emotions at play means you’re missing an opportunity to find better, more durable solutions to problems. You can accomplish a lot more if you know how to read between the lines and capture what’s most important for your employees. It may take some time and a little research to really get to the root of the problem, but it’ll be worth it when you’re able to help employees resolve the real issues.
Looking the other way
You may be tempted to ignore a problem when you don’t know what you can do to stop behaviors that adversely affect your team. But overlooking signs of unrest erodes your authority and your reputation. Watch for the following:
Bullying: Bullying is one of the most obvious yet commonly overlooked behaviors.
Power struggles: Playing tug of war is a fun activity at the company picnic, but it has no place on a functional team. If a staff member is trying to one-up a colleague, is putting a team member down to build himself up, or is lobbying against his co-workers, check out what may really be happening with that person.
Less obvious but perhaps just as frustrating for your staff is when you ignore their requests for your time. Scheduling, and keeping, face-to-face time is essential.
If someone has the courage to talk to you about an issue, pay attention. Disregarding emotions or anxiety an employee feels about a situation with his co-workers (including you) may cause him to skip coming to you next time. Instead, he may go behind your back, go over your head, stew, or adversely affect the company by carrying out negative actions.