No matter what size your business is there are bound to be conflict between employees. Everyone comes to the table with different experiences, beliefs and expectations. Your job as a business leader is to find a way to cultivate and enjoy those differences without having to manage conflicts constantly between team members. It is pretty much inevitable that conflict will arise in times of stress or change. How you deal with it will determine the extent and impact on your company. Here are a few tips from experts at Forbes, Time, and U.S. News on what to do (and what not to do) in times of conflict.
- Be Prepared – Honestly, you know it is practically inevitable – so plan ahead. Talk to your Human Resources personnel, who are experts on dealing with many personalities and are usually good under pressure. They may have courses or suggestions for how to handle day-to-day conflicts or larger disagreements. They can also be excellent mediators in the event of a larger conflict.
- Stay Calm – Conflict can quickly escalate if all parties are not dealt with in a calm manner. Your leadership skills of listening, problem solving and finding a common ground will be tested. Most of all keep your cool and check yourself before dealing with any crisis, big or small.
- Document – One of the hallmarks of a great Human Resources department is documenting any conflicts so that they can be handled correctly. Be sure your HR department or specialist keeps a written log of what the conflict was and how it was handled. You may need this documentation later if the conflict comes up again or if a legal situation arises.
- Do Not Avoid – Some business leaders make the all-too-common-mistake of trying to avoid the conflict and let it solve itself. Experts warn against this because what may seem like it is settled may rear it’s head later and cause even more problems later.
- Follow Up – Many conflicts can be solved quickly and rather quietly. However, as a business leader, you should make it a priority to check in with concerned parties to make sure all is well or at least getting better. HR should also follow up and conclude documentation on the conflict.
Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with differing personalities and work habits in a workplace. Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice. Since avoiding workplace conflict is a near impossible feat, be prepared for how to handle these circumstances in advance. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict.
Stay Calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. Don’t let emotions escalate or drive decisions. However, do let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged. Each member of the conflict should have a chance to say what is on their mind in a respectful and safe manner.
- Deal With the Issues –
First of all, if you are a manager dealing with conflict you should: recognize that there is a conflict, be objective, and be fair and consistent. What will help in any conflict would be a human resources liaison who can moderate and ease the tension. HR personnel are an unfailingly objective third party. Short of calling in HR moderators, it would be helpful if there was a written code of conduct from which to read and guide employees when a situation arises.
- Document – Whenever a conflict arises be sure to document the event. Who was involved? What was the resolution? If a pattern of conflict emerges, it is possible that one or two employees may turn out to be the “common factor.” In this case, documenting for potential future incidences or, unfortunately, termination will be needed.
- Determine Follow Up – After a workplace conflict, whether it is related to work or is personal, it is critical to follow up. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing. Did the issue continue to fester? Was it completely resolved? Has it impacted workflow or morale in the office? Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.
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Owning a small business can be a major juggling act. Being a leader, chief financial officer, office manager and all the other roles that go into making a successful business can be hard. Keeping all the “balls in the air” can be a tough juggling act, which can cause mistakes – sometimes serious ones. Mistakes in the human resources area can be easy to make if you don’t understand and are compliant with the law.
Here are five of the most common HR management pitfalls small businesses face today and how to avoid making them.
- Outdated Employee Handbook – The employee handbook is your guidebook for all employees and company leaderships about work-related policies. These policies could include: discrimination policies, standards of conduct, compensation, benefits, work schedules, security, and vacation/sick policies. Each business is different so the policies laid out in the handbook should be updated regularly and be specific to your field of business. Not having company policies in writing and updating regularly is just asking for trouble.
- Staying knowledgeable of Changing HR Laws –
Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws are critical when running a successful small business. Compliance with these laws can be a big headache for small businesses. There are a multitude of regulations, and these laws continue to change rapidly. Have a dedicated employee or HR consultant who can stay on top of changing laws and compliance requirements.
- Handling Terminations Poorly – No business leader wants to deal with a termination but they happen all the time. Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. Both performance and policy violations require documentation and a paper trail. “Make sure that you document any disciplinary issues, safety inspections, performance discussions, and the like. These records can save you if done right — or kill you if done poorly or not at all.”(Source: Intuit Books) This is yet another reason why the well-written employee handbook is needed.
Research shows that feeling appreciated- which comes from recognition from others- is one of the top drivers of employee engagement and retention. Showing appreciation can come in many different forms depending upon your field of specialty. Pay raises, promotions and Employee Appreciation Days are far from the only ways to motivate and supply incentives to your team. More than half of America’s companies use incentive programs spending over $77 billion annually on them. Here are a few monetary and creative approaches.
- Be Flexible – With so many employees with families and responsibilities outside the office, a great reward is flexibility. Since not every employee fits into the 9-5 environment allowing for flexibility is a way to boost morale, as well as show your employees how much their hard work is appreciated. Flexibility may mean flex hours or possibly even remote work. This flexibility may mean that your employees can cut back on child care or even allow for more time with children in general. Flexibility costs nothing and can reap major rewards in the long run.
- On-Site Rewards – Making your office into a place team members want to be is an incentive that employees will really appreciate. Ideas for this could range from a coffee cart on Fridays or a membership to the gym next door. Some very creative companies have installed game rooms or nap pods where employees can relax during breaks. This may seem counter productive to getting the work done but research says that these additions and incentives increase productivity.
- Call Outs – Everyone likes to be recognized for hard work or a job well done. “Call out” to team members who have done a great job during staff meetings or on an employee bulletin board. Recognizing an employee who has done an outstanding job could be in the form of a thank you note, a gift card or some other reward. Some unique ideas for rewards include featuring the employee in the company newsletter, giving priority parking for a month, arrange for a lunch in their honor or plan an “appreciation day” for those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Perks whether they are financial or creative in nature are worth the time and effort as they will boost morale and possibly productivity. Give creative incentives a try in your office.
If Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn and Career Builder are the only strategies that come to mind when thinking about recruiting the best employees to your business, then you may need to rethink your process of recruiting. If you are looking for a dream candidate to fit into the skill set you need and mesh with the personality of your company you may need to think outside-the-box. To get a list of qualified candidates instead of a pile of resumes that can only be characterized as a “poor fit” you may want to read on about what business leaders are doing to “beef up” their recruiting strategies.
It’s really not enough these days to post a job listing on your company website or one of the many job listing sites and hope that the candidate of your dreams will magically appear and apply. Business leaders need to be active to attract talent, or else someone is going to snatch up that dream employee. In order to compete, you need to make sure your recruitment strategies are up to snuff.
- Social Media – Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to spread the word about the benefits of working at your company, as well as openings that are being posted. Jobvite reports that 44% of recruiters say that social recruiting has increased both the quantity and quality of candidates. In addition, Socially engaged companies are 58% more likely to attract top talent.
- Drive Referrals as a Company-Wide Initiative– According to the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, referrals are one of the easiest ways to source talent. Using the referral networks of your entire company instead of just those of your hiring team will seriously boost your results. Make the referral initiatives worth-while for employees with prizes and benefits that they will be working towards.
- Teach Your Interview Teams to be Highly Effective – This means that your hiring process is well tuned and practiced in the right questions to ask, how to ask them, what red flags to look for and how to bring the entire team into the hiring process to make sure the new hire will be a good fit.
- Retain and Recruit the Best – The best way to fill empty slots is to keep them from being empty in the first place. Identify the top 20% of performers at your business, and keep that information in an easily accessible list. Then, sit down and create an action plan to keep those employees happy and keep them with the company. Those top workers probably know and work with people in similar fields who are also the best of the best. Find out what makes them the best so you know what to look for in new hires.
Writing, maintaining and executing all of the parts of an employee handbook can be a daunting task for any employer. Most new companies hold off writing such a document until their business has grown to a point where it necessary to have a formal list of items to review with each new employee during the on-boarding process. While it may seem overwhelming at first to put into a single document the goals, rules and policies of your company it is a good idea to do so for many reasons. The benefits can be numerous including the following:
- Every employee receives the same information about the rules/policies of the workplace.
- Employees will know what you expect from them (and what they can expect from you).
- Valuable legal protection if an employee later challenges you in court over any human resource issue such as benefits, hiring/firing, workplace rules, discipline, safety and a host of other topics.
Top Benefits of Spelling it all out in an Employee Handbook:
- All employees know and have read the core mission of the company.
- All employees understand the expectations of their job whether it is in regard to workplace attire, hours of operation, expected behaviors, harassment, or even drug and alcohol use.
- All employees will have a written document explaining the benefits whether they are medical, dental, retirement or paid time off.
- All employees and managers will have a written document explaining the need to comply with state and federal laws.
- All employees will understand where to turn to if they need help.
- All rules and specific policies are clearly stated for all employees to read and follow.
- All managers and leadership position understand their role including the consistent and fair dealings with each employee.
- Serves as a reference guide for both the employee and the employer, thereby eliminating common misunderstandings and unreasonable employment expectations.
- Allows all employees regardless of level, to understand the compliance regulations of the company when it comes to technology use/misuse and communications outside and internally within the company.
- Explains all safety regulations and rules so that the work environment can remain a safe and secure place to work.
Employers are always looking for ways to retain employees that are motivated and and engaged. After all, the most important asset to any company is its people. With more than half of America’s companies using incentive programs it is no wonder that many companies are looking for new and creative ways to both recognize good work and reward it appropriately.
Incentives and rewards for stellar performances have benefits for both employer and employees. When workers are recognized, their performance and productivity increases as well as morale is given a huge boost. As a result of this employers experience greater efficiency and an increase in sales and productivity. Therefore, when rewards are given regularly for excellence the result is a win-win situation. Let’s look at some ideas for rewarding and recognizing great work as well as incentives to encourage employee engagement.
- Employee Recognition – Saying thank you in big and small ways can go a long way to making employees happy! A small thank you note, an email to your team mentioning an employees excellence, a shout out to an employee during a staff meeting or even a posting on an employee board could be a nice way to recognize work that was above and beyond the norm.
- Personal Touch – Having bosses higher up visit the office of the employee and give a warm and in-person “thank you” shows that hard work has not gone unnoticed. In addition to visits from higher management ,maybe a small gift or favorite bouquet could be given over a lunch on the boss!
- Money Incentives – The bottom line is a huge incentive for many families that would love a hand written note but could really use a monetary reward for excellence instead. These incentives include employee stock options, profit sharing plans, paid time off, bonuses and cash awards. Additional monetary incentives include annual or semi-annual bonuses, such as mid-year and end-of-year rewards.
- Non Monetary Rewards could be in the form of perks such as health center memberships, flexible work hours or training opportunities. The rewards and incentives are valuable to an employee because they allow workers to learn new skills and pursue advancement opportunities.
- Special Events – Company outings that include family members could be a great incentive for many families who may not get an opportunity to go to a ball game or amusement park. Employee appreciation weeks could give a great morale boost and show employees that you want to reward their hard work.
Looking for more creative ways to show your appreciation at work?
Forbes Low Cost Incentive Ideas for Employees
Exploring Employee Incentives