Do you dread managing conflict between your employees?

Do you dread managing conflict between your employees?

Managing conflict is probably one of the least favorite tasks for all managers. It’s no surprise that it has been published by the Center for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which noted that 35% of senior executives say that they are the most likely to be disappointed an under performing employee.

Managing relationships between employees is often overlooked or inadequately dealt with by managers. Why do you think this is? Especially when good leaders and leaders recognize the importance of resolving disputes and challenges in a team. The most common answers to these questions are found; „I do not have time,“ „I fear that it will fall back on me and ruin my relationship with them.“

Mediation skills are a vital tool for all managers. To effectively manage disputes or challenges in your team we do not suggest you have become a certified mediator. Rather, we believe the learning relevant mediation skills that deescalates and resolves conflict in a timely viable way is more than sufficient. Our training approaches  are to be facilitated in a different way and for the individual and team.

The next time you find yourself having a conflict in your workplace, give these steps a try:

You are there to facilitate the conversation between the employees, not to direct it.

Do not allow power plays – allow equal time to speak

Remain impartial \ Listen attentively, recognize, name and respect the divergent viewpoints

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Take note of issues you hear, and suggest that they explore one at a time

Do not impose any decisions. If they are stuck creating a road map

Nobody can resolve until issues are resolved

* Remember – You manage the process not the content.

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Constructive Criticism – Easier said than done?

Constructive Criticism – Easier said than done?

This blog will provide you with the essentials for giving constructive criticism in the workplace.

Providing criticism is a soft skill that many people grapple with both personally and professionally. At times, even when we prepare to have an objective conversation, somehow within minutes it can escalate into a subjective attack or misunderstanding.

What causes these conversations to derail? – Like my accounting teacher used to say; “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

Like all important conversations, preparation is essential. We suggest that you use the following five step approach when preparing to critique the behaviour of a colleague or employee in the workplace.

  1. Prepare for the conversation

  • What is the objective of the conversation?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are the behaviours you want to critique?
  • What are the objective points and specific criteria?
  • How can you avoid being subjective? E.g. use ‘I statements’
  • What tone of voice will you use?
  • If there is a misunderstanding, what will you do?
  1. Begin the conversation by focusing on their strengths

  • Constructive criticism encourages positive change in another, whereas destructive criticism does the opposite, condemning and discouraging another
  • Positive Reinforcement. Commend the work they are doing well
  1. Provide constructive criticism

  • Break it down. Don’t say it all at once
  • Leave time for interpretation and clarification – make sure there are no misunderstandings
  • Encourage self-critique and creative solutions
  • Avoid subjective. Focus on objective and specific points
  • Focus on behaviours, not the person
  • Use ‘I statements’
  1. Refer back to their strengths and positive behaviours

  • Reiterate the positive comments and results
  • Reinforce what they are doing right and the benefits of acting upon criticism effectively
  1. Follow up

  • Assess progress being made
  • Focus on improvements
  • Encourage self-criticism and creative solutions

We would love to hear your thoughts. 



Is your startup prepared for fall out?

Is your startup prepared for fall out?

Successful startups and leaders see the value in identifying and taking the necessary steps to minimize risk early. They recognise that educating themselves in the skills they lack or hiring skilled employees and advisors are crucial measures for sustainable progression.

One risk that many startups fail to anticipate is the potential for fall out between business partners, managers and employees. Failing to implement mechanisms that prevent and manage fall out can be detrimental to the business. Fall out or destructive conflict in businesses often occurs over time rather than one single trigger event.

We found that the most common causes for fall out in expanding startups are:

Individuals don’t share the same vision and mission for the business

Individuals focus on personal issues instead of tasks and problem solving

Inability to have constructive ‘difficult’ conversations

Allowing negative emotions drive decision making

No awareness of workplace triggers – Overtime the inactions or actions of others trigger negative responses and behaviours

Lack of skills to effectively collaborate and manage relationships and negotiations

No dispute system design (DSD)

The period when startups often struggle with the absence of these mechanisms or efficient conflict management skills is when they are established, successful and gaining momentum to expand.

How can you minimise the negative effects of fall out early in the business?

We suggest that you:

  1. Carefully construct an effective dispute system design (DSD). This involves the process of identifying, designing, employing, and evaluating an effective means of resolving conflicts within the business. The DSD should be revised when the business expands.
  2. Upskill in conflict management techniques and styles. This begins with self-awareness of our own conflict style and workplace triggers.
  3. Create a competent conflict culture. Conflict is naturally uncomfortable but productive conflict focused on concepts and ideas is essential for any team to grow and manage challenges quickly.

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Engaging in Workplace Conflict

Engaging in Workplace Conflict

If effectively handled we believe that even the most difficult conflict can be leveraged to produce positive outcomes.

Conflict is an inevitable aspect of any team. It is because you choose to address the conflict.
In every moment and every situation, we have the freedom to choose our behavior –  So, what is it that stops you from telling ‚that‘ colleague that their analytical, hostile or untrustworthy behavior really irritates you?

We get it. Conflict is naturally uncomfortable. The tendency to avoid stress is so in a human being. But calling it natural does not mean it is essential or beneficial for unchangeable behavior. Self-awareness and self-discipline can not be reduced to the unnatural. All Humans have the capacity to do the unnatural, to transcend and transform our own nature. Think about it – our daily routines consist of numerous unnatural things, such as brushing our teeth or washing. We teach ourselves to do the unnatural even unnatural even becomes second nature.

Changing how we behave and address Challenges in the workplace is no different. It begins with self-awareness of our behavior and the behaviors of others that cause the highest level of irritation of frustration in us. It is only once we identify these triggers that we can control how we respond to them.

Being good at handling conflict is not innate. So they become ’natural‘. Constructive responses that must be learned, practiced and re-practiced overtime.

Stop and think about the following:

Regconise that you are in conflict and break.

Think – why are you being  triggered? (what are the actions or actions of the person that is causing you to feel this way)

Does the other person know that you are triggered?

What are your choices? How can you respond in a constructive way that wants to deescalate the conflict before it becomes a dispute? (perspective taking, express emotions, creative solutions etc)

We would love to hear your thoughts.