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Why Conflict Resolution Is A Matter Of Matching Values

In essence, anything that allows a person to identify a distinction or difference can become a potential source of conflict.

Dr John Demartini

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Wherever you find people working or interacting within some sort of group or relationship, you will find conflict.

In the workplace, in homes, at schools and between the most loving of families or couples. As a result, conflict resolution is essential to any happy and productive relationship – whether it be within an office or when on holiday with a spouse.

Resolving conflict, and also mitigating the likelihood of conflict, is an important and ongoing process for us all.

At its core, conflict can be whittled down to a difference in values – and the resulting expectations – between the parties involved.

Generally speaking, the law of ‘similarities and differences’ governs people and their relations, in that no two people will have the exact same values, but there will always be certain similarities and differences that can potentially act as unifying forces (or polarising forces).

Related: 4 Ways to Prevent Office Bullies

Reflective vs. Reactive

In my view, every conflict is resolvable. When working with companies, at every level, I follow a very specific process when addressing and resolving even the most deeply entrenched of disputes.

To begin with, I seek to understand the core values of each party involved, and what their fundamental hopes and expectations are.

  • What does each person want out of this scenario?
  • What are they feeling aggrieved about?
  • What they do most value and care about?

It is worth acknowledging that most people don’t go to work because they care about the company and its mission – whether it is wealth management or welding. They go to work because they are seeking a sense of purpose, belonging, knowledge, engagement and personal fulfilment (in addition to the obvious financial obligations).

With a deeper understanding of each person’s guiding values, I then carry out a thorough values and expectations assessment – and find out where these differ from what is being experienced, perceived or received.

At this point, it is imperative to determine whether the demands or expectations are realistic (grounded in facts, logic and reason), or unrealistic (based on fantasy). Sometimes the demands are unobtainable and simply fictitious, not factually based.

In these cases, effective conflict resolution rests on the ability to educate either one or more parties as to the reality of the situation, always keeping in mind what he/she values and aspires to. The problem, in essence, is often one of education and awareness, above all else.

At every step in this process, one needs to master the art of caring enough about the people involved and understanding what truly matters to them.

Instead of merely being reactive, the approach needs to be reflective – with everyone involved taking the opportunity to not only reassess and relook at their own values and expectations, but all of those involved.

The more open, receptive and communicative the process, the better the chances of resolving conflicts both quickly and effectively.

Related: How do I avert a “conflict of interest” with my silent partner?

Organisational Unity

conflict-in-the-workplace-environment-solving

With special regards to conflict resolution in the workplace, it is important for each party to not only consider their individual needs and expectations, but also those of the company and its various stakeholders. Ultimately, if the company or group comes up against an insurmountable obstacle, everyone suffers the consequences.

By way of example, I once worked with a woman who was making USD 40, 000 per month, and wanted a pay raise.

Although company management acknowledged that she did indeed deserve a raise, they made it clear to her that if they suddenly increased her pay, it would lead to discontent and possible mutiny amongst her colleagues.

When this was explained to her, she calmed down and agreed to an incremental salary increase based on productivity. So the outcome was positive for the individual, as well as the company.

When debating executive pay, which is a hot button issue worldwide, the same reflective and empathetic approach should be adopted.

Will it serve the company in question to cut the executive pay, and possibly lose a good leader? Or is it in the interests of the entire organisation to retain a CEO who is particularly talented, and thus requiring high pay?

From mediating between mid-level managers around business strategy to putting out fires between global leaders, conflict resolution is a matter of identifying the values and expectations at play – and working out how and where a better match can be achieved.

Dr John Demartini is a health professional, an expert on human behaviour, the mind and body connection and on the laws of the universe. He is a bestselling author of nine self-help books translated into 22 languages. He teaches full time assisting people across the world to see the order in their perceived chaos and consults to business leaders around the world. He is also the Founder of the Demartini Institute with a branch in South Africa, Johannesburg. Whenever he is in SA, he donates his time freely to deliver inspired talks to SA's Police Service, Prison Wardens, Prisoners, teachers and disadvantaged young adults. For more information on the Demartini Institute in South Africa call +27 11 0119093 or visit www.DrDemartini.com To receive a complimentary audio presentation by Dr Demartini titled: Staying Focused on Goals, visit http://www.drdemartini.com/entrepreneurmag

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Managing Staff

3 Ways You Can Help Your New Hires To Succeed

Filling a vacant position is expensive, and unless you do these three things, it’s liable to be an expensive waste of time.

Tiffany Delmore

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Let’s face it – the hiring process is painful, and not just because you have to look through reams of résumés. From posting job listings to conducting several rounds of candidate interviews to ultimately making a selection and then training a new employee, the time and money required to fill a vacant role add up quickly. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs an average of $4,129 to hire a new employee. Considering this process takes an average of 42 days, it’s clear that you want to get it right the first time.

And just because you’ve made a candidate an offer and he or she has accepted it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. In fact, Tinypulse reports that 22 percent of turnovers occur within the first 45 days of an employee starting a new job. Without an effective onboarding process, you’re setting your business – and your new hire – up for failure. On the other hand, an effective and engaging onboarding programme allows companies to retain 91 percent of new hires for at least a year, according to the same research.

Successful training makes for successful employees, which in turn makes for a successful organisation. If your new employee onboarding and training programme is strong, your confused newbies are more likely to turn into productive contributors, and this transformation will take less time.

Don’t overlook these three key areas when training your new hire.

1. Teach trainees to identify basic cyber security threats

Cyber attacks are increasingly common, and they’re a threat to businesses of all shapes and sizes. While some hackers are conducting extremely sophisticated attacks, research by Cofense revealed that 91 percent of security breaches still stem from basic phishing emails. Because they’re unaware of their new company’s common practices, new hires are particularly susceptible to social engineering attacks. The most successful scammers start by gaining access to an executive’s actual email account; after all, who’s going to say no to a request from the CEO?

As David Wagner, president and CEO of email security firm Zix, explains, “Any messages then sent out automatically bypass authentication tools, making unsuspecting recipients the last line of defense.” If you’ve trained your employees on what they should and shouldn’t send over email – and can and can’t expect to receive via email – your organisation has a decent shot at escaping unscathed. If not, the oversight could cost you a fortune. Make sure your training materials show your new hires examples of phishing emails and provide a list of the types of company information that should never be shared via email.

Related: 3 Pragmatic Tips For Start-Ups Making Those Critical Initial Hires

2. Help them to buddy up

Relationships are an important part of employee engagement. Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report found that workplace friendships drive employee engagement and performance. In fact, the report determined that organisations can better engage customers and increase profits by increasing the number of their employees who feel they have a close friend at work. So include your new employees in the social circle at work and provide get-to-know-you opportunities so they can quickly feel like they’re part of the team.

Encouraging new employee assimilation could be as simple as making sure newcomers have someone to eat lunch with for the first few weeks. An even more effective way to promote engagement involves pairing up a new employee with a peer mentor for the first few months on the job. Mentorship programmes have seen great success, and they’re utilised by around 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies, according to the Association of Talent Development.

Ask the veterans on your team to sign up as mentors and set clear parameters for what that entails. Will they be an as-needed resource for new employees, check in on them weekly, or be integrally involved in their training? Decide what works best for your team.

3. Give your training materials a makeover

Nothing causes employees to tune out faster than sitting them down in front of a computer screen with an employee manual and training videos that clearly should have been left back in the ’90s. If your onboarding materials quote Ferris Bueller or reference the original “MacGyver,” it’s probably time to freshen things up. When you upgrade your training materials, incorporate interactive elements that encourage active participation.

Related: Team Resolutions: 11 Tips To Uncover Passion And Potential In New Hires

Fun activities like a scavenger hunt will help new employees learn their way around the office, and interviews with other members of the company will help familiarise them with their colleagues. Before you plan training for your new hires, make sure you understand their learning styles and offer training activities that best meet their needs. You could even have them fill out a learning styles questionnaire and use that information to personalise aspects of their training. If your new hires learn best by doing, include opportunities for them to jump into a task. Or if your new employees are visual learners, focus more written materials than oral presentations or in-person chats to ensure the information sticks.

It takes time to get a new employee up to speed, but there are steps you can take to accelerate their training. If your onboarding process hasn’t changed in years, be sure to prioritise these three things in your next update. They’ll protect your organisation, improve engagement and put new hires on the fast track to success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Managing Staff

Why Small Teams Get It Done Better, Faster And Under Budget

How is a project delivered four months ahead of schedule and R2 million under budget? Because small teams deliver work within significantly shorter time frames and with smaller budgets. Here’s how.

THE TEAM SECRET

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The challenge

We will focus on teams that are given tasks that must be completed within a specific time frame, for instance a set number of items by close of business or objectives to be reached by a specific date, and we will also investigate the difference in performance between larger and smaller teams. Our case studies are based on client interventions by a management consulting company that co-author Anton Burger worked for. During these client interventions he worked with and managed teams ranging from two to 110 people across various industries.

An interesting truth was revealed during two such client interventions several years apart when two teams, one large and one small, had to deliver the same type of solution. The smaller team delivered the work within a significantly shorter time frame and with a smaller budget.

Over the 19-year period that our co-author Anton Burger worked with and managed teams, the question was often asked, why are smaller teams able to achieve so much more? Let’s look at the following example.

A big life insurance company wanted to computerise their business processes to improve operational efficiencies. This would not only bring down operational cost but also improve customer experience.

Related: Why Small Businesses Are Unable To Pay Staff Salaries

The management team of the organisation approached Victor Pereira (pseudonym), a management consultant, to assist with the selection of suitable software to computerise the business and to put a team together to implement the system. A system was soon selected and a seven-member team was established.

The team consisted of a team leader, a two-man development team, an IT expert and a three-man business analysis (to determine the needs of the business) and testing team. The members of the team were all specialists in their fields and had much experience.

Besides the normal challenges that go with a project of this nature, there was one additional challenge — the version of the software in question had never before been implemented anywhere in the world. The client would be the first.

Adding to this challenge was the fact that, should any software code issues come up, they could only be resolved by the software provider based in the United States. This meant the team needed to be flexible and had to work after hours in South Africa to coincide with the working hours of the software provider.

However, the project team took ownership of the challenges and was determined to solve the issues and implement the system. The relatively small size of the team made communication and decision-making easier.

Large teams heighten complexity

Each team member was adaptable, committed to the project goals, and took ownership. This insured effective and high-quality deliverables. A combination of factors, such as the size of the team, the right people with the right skills and their commitment to the goals, ensured that the project was delivered four months ahead of schedule and R2 million under budget.

After the successful completion of the project, Victor was approached by the life insurance company to salvage a project to replace their outdated and disparate transactional systems (that had already been computerised) with a single modern system. The company had already spent some time and money trying to implement a new transactional system but little progress had been made. As project director, Victor was confronted with the challenge to restart the project and complete it within the original time frame with a smaller budget.

Given the time pressure, the company believed throwing a big team at the problem would help solve it. Up until this point in his career, Victor had predominantly worked with smaller teams and had never experienced the challenges surrounding teamwork in a team of this size.

A mixture of existing and new teams was assigned to the project. This overall team, totalling 110, was made up of multiple sub-teams ranging between four and 12, each with their own team leader. Multiple vendors supplied software components, which had to be integrated with each other and existing interfaces.

The multiple teams and vendors, combined with a highly regulated financial services environment, created an extremely complex project. The size of the greater team posed a significant challenge in terms of communication and co-ordination. Teams started planning their respective deliverables, sometimes without consulting or planning with other teams that were involved. Some team leaders excluded team members from the planning process, which meant that team members could not commit to time frames. This led to a lack of commitment with team members not taking ownership.

Consequently, the project struggled to gain momentum. A project of this scale requires careful planning and coordination between the different teams involved. Teams depended on deliverables from other teams to meet deadlines. For example, the development team could not start development unless the business analysis team had completed their business needs specifications.

The problems were exacerbated by the fact that team leaders did not have the right authority levels to make decisions on the spot and this also hampered progress. One of the key teams started missing critical deliverables, which had a negative impact on all the other teams.

The moment non-delivery becomes a reality, pressure mounts for all parties involved. At times like these the level of trust among team members is the glue that holds things together. However, in this case there was a breakdown in trust among some members of the overall leadership team.

At this point Victor realised that at the current rate of progress the team would not reach the project goals. An intervention was needed. He red-flagged it with the managing director of the company and it was decided that a different approach to coordination was urgently needed.

The project was stopped and the approach reevaluated. The entire project was re-planned but this time with all the team leaders and team members involved. Victor was astounded by the complete about-turn in the team morale. This resulted in more realistic timelines and commitment from all team members, which fostered a sense of ownership.

The project made good progress but sadly, due to the significant delays, the original launch dates could not be achieved and the project was over budget. Surprisingly (or not), the small team that was incorporated into the bigger team made excellent progress and delivered on their scope of work, on time.

Related: 7 Team Building Ideas To Create An Engaged Team

Small teams achieve better teamwork

The value of teamwork, the importance of managing teams well and even the effectiveness of smaller teams have been well documented and developed over the past 70 years. In the 1950s a more scientific approach was introduced to the concept of teamwork when two American engineers, Joseph M. Juran and W. Edwards Deming, took their philosophy on quality to Japan. They were invited by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers to do something about the perceived poor quality of Japanese products.

Their thinking gave birth to the concept of Quality Circles — a system in which small teams of employees voluntarily come together to define and solve a quality or performance-related problem. Secondly, it led to Total Quality Management — a system of managerial, statistical and technological concepts and techniques aimed at achieving quality objectives throughout an organisation.

This system expanded into teams with the relevant authority (at low levels) to make decisions. During the late 1980s and early 1990s organisations across the globe were dominated by self-managing teams,  relatively small and highly autonomous work teams that take responsibility for a product, project or service, and self-directed teams,  small groups of employees who have day-to-day responsibility for managing themselves and their work.

Another type of team that is often used to improve organisational performance is a mission-directed work team. The aim of mission-directed work teams is to provide leaders and their teams with the skills to:

  • Achieve high and continually improving levels of quality, speed and cost effectiveness
  • Establish goal alignment and business focus
  • Benchmark themselves against best leadership and workplace practices to identify and address high leverage areas for improvement in a systematic manner
  • Create a visual workplace (the use of pictures, graphics and other images to convey information and meaning quickly and simply) to simplify the management
  • of objectives
  • Achieve teamwork, participation and continuous learning.
  • Work teams have gained worldwide acceptance in organisations. However, while teamwork is essential to organisational performance, effective teamwork is often elusive.

A decline in effectiveness is often caused by teams that are too big, teams that do not have a clear purpose or a structured plan or are made up of the wrong members. Teams that are not trusted with great responsibility and are not allowed much freedom to make their own decisions may also fail. Conflict, mistrust and poor leadership are often the leading causes of poor performance by a team.

Professors Martin Hoegl, head of the Institute of Leadership and Organisation at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Hans Georg Gemuenden, of BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo and K. Praveen Parboteeah of University of Wisconsin–Whitewater investigated the effects of team size on teamwork quality among 58 software development projects. They found that the top five teams, in terms of teamwork quality, ranged in size from three to six members and the bottom five from seven to nine members. More significantly, on average, teams of three members achieved 63% of the teamwork quality of the best team, which is in stark contrast to teams of nine members which only achieved 28%.

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Managing Staff

7 Simple Steps To Strategise For 2019’s Success

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

Revel Africa

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With the buzz and hoopla in full swing this holiday season, as managers and business owners it’s good to remember that the new year is right around the corner. We all want next year to be better than this one, and you probably have a few improvements in mind that you want to see come to fruition.

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

1. First, clarify your goals

To know what the new year should look like, start by understanding what this year was like. Pull reports now while data is fresh, and look at this year’s performance. Identify the changes you’d like to see in the upcoming year.

Then you can clearly see what you want your team to achieve in the new year:

  • What specific metrics need work?
  • Do you want to see an increase in overall revenues by a certain percentage?
  • How about improving productivity and cutting costs?

2. Time to plan

Once you have an idea of what needs changing you can work out the details of how you will achieve it.

Consider the SMART acronym when putting your plan together. Is your plan:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

As leaders we need to lead with clarity and decisiveness, but we will do well to gain the input and ideas of those we lead.

Once you have your plan in place, you can bring in your team.

Related: Planning A Year End Function On A Budget? Five Fabulous Tips To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck

3. Book a break-away meeting

Plan your meeting after the holiday season has passed. The start of the year is a good time, as everything has calmed down, minds are fresh, and people are ready for vision. So, early in January, bring your key management team together and let them know you would like to discuss the goals for the upcoming year.

Plan a meeting away from the office so that the usual distractions are eliminated, and you can all focus on the key objectives. Sometimes we need help arranging these things, like finding a great venue, arranging food, including ice-breakers, creative starters and games to get the juices flowing, and so on. This is not your core skill set, so consider hiring an event planner and an MC to keep the day on track, so that you can focus on the main thing – getting the team focused and energised for success in 2019.

4. Setup the meeting agenda

Start the meeting by bringing everyone up to speed by reviewing last year’s stats. Show the results that you reviewed and allow them to see where the areas of success were, as well as the areas that need attention. If you haven’t already, recognise the team members who stood out in various important aspects of the business. This is tremendously motivating and encouraging.

Get a conversation going either in small teams, or around the table where ideas are brainstormed for how to solve the areas that need improvement. Find out from the team why they think the business struggled in these areas, and how they think improvements can be made.

Your agenda could cover these conversation starters:

  1. What are the three most important objectives for this year. Think “big picture” here, things that touch on profit and future achievement.
  2. Who is responsible for each of these?
  • What will you do?
  • How will you do it?
  • By when will you do it?
  1. Break the year up into monthly metrics and put quarterly goal-planning reviews on your calendar. This commits you to pause and measure every 90 days, while keeping a close eye on profits, clients, projects, revenue in 30-day intervals.
  2. Link up. Remember, lone wolves starve to death. Think about who can you partner with in 2019 to reach your goals – who are your advocates, allies, referral sources, and potential joint venture partners who can help you leapfrog over obstacles and who complement your own products and services. Get contact details and build your relationship with them so you can collaborate more closely – starting right now.

Remember to take breaks that are fun and creative in order to unhook from this intense deep dive into strategy. You don’t want to burn out your team right at the start of the year. Keep snacks, water, and activities going so that they have fuel to keep on but start the year motivated and positive.

5. Draw up the final plan

Once done, it is time to go through all of the input you have received to supplement your strategies, and draw up the final plan. When your final plan is ready, bring the remainder of your team together and lay out the plan for 2019. This can be done via a video recording, Skype, an email, a meeting, or one-on-one conversations, depending on the size and locations of your team. Be clear about what they need to bring to the table in 2019 and how it will be measured. Then ask for a commitment from each team member to work toward the improvement in the coming year.

6. Tracking and Measuring

Once the team is committed and bought into the 2019 strategy, you’ve only just begun. Set policies and procedures in place to track progress, provide updates, and hold people accountable to their commitments. Some managers might opt to check the metrics daily and send out weekly updates, while others may check weekly and send out monthly updates. Whatever you decide, consistency is key to ensure you stay on track to achieve your goals in 2019.

7. Invest in resources for success in 2019

As this year winds down, commit yourself to leading, motivating, and inspiring your team to work together towards your common goal. Plan how you can come alongside your managers to ensure their success by offering mentoring, support, training, and whatever resources they need to achieve these goals.Their success is ultimately your success.

Similarly it might be a good time to invest more into your own growth – consider a mentor for the year ahead who can help take you past your own limitations and rutted thinking. Read books on leadership and other’s business successes; plan three mini-holidays in the year to keep you sharp and focused. Remember you can only give to others what you yourself have.

This simple yet effective strategy can be applied to whatever type of business you are in, and can help you gain the buy-in of your vision by your team and make 2019 a year of achievable success.

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