Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies
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If you communicate in unclear ways to employees, then conflict will occur. Employee expectations and goals must be clearly understood to prevent inefficiency. The directives you give on a daily basis that have the potential to cause problems between your employees, include:

  • Using hazy terms to give what you consider to be clear instructions. Telling an employee “This is a priority” sounds pretty clear, but what’s missing in that directive is a description of what this is a priority over.

  • Assigning a task or responsibility to more than one person. When you assign a task to more than one person, it almost always causes tension between those people.

  • Couching language because you’re worried an employee may not react well to an instruction. If you sugarcoat the fact that you need an employee to work overtime when you say, “Run those numbers when you can,” he won’t be too happy when he learns from someone else that you need the report for an 8 a.m. meeting tomorrow.

  • Making promises or setting expectations with vendors, customers, or people from other areas of the company and then expecting your staff to deliver disappointing news. Putting employees’ professional reputations at stake is always a bad move. If you’ve mistakenly set an unrealistic expectation, admit the error to the outsider instead of ordering your employees to do it for you.

  • Setting expectations that are beyond what an employee can accomplish. Setting unrealistic expectations can cause your employee to have low self-esteem and feel overwhelmed and stressed, which, in turn, may lead him to give up, quit, or talk trash about his situation.

  • Employing a military-type approach that includes barking orders at subordinates. On the surface, this approach may seem to be the most efficient way to get a clear and concise message out to the troops. But if you’re leaving out important parts of the instructions (like the strategy behind them!), you run the risk of creating infighting while team members stumble into each other in their panic to react.

About This Article

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Vivian Scott is a Certified Mediator in private practice and a retired Microsoft marketing manager. She is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and volunteers as a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties.

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