August 28, 2008
The top three mistakes in dealing with conflict in the workplace.
1. Ignoring the problem
Conflict is a natural and necessary aspect of professional and personal relationships. It is inevitable and, if handled properly, an important part of business and personal growth. As a manager or business owner you may think that you do not have time to deal with every little “spat” in your workplace. However, if you choose to ignore conflicts, you are choosing to ignore an opportunity to make your business better and stronger.
You know the old saying about assumptions. Don’t ever assume that you know what others are thinking and feeling. If you go into a dialogue with a resolution already in mind, you are missing the boat. The key is looking at Needs First – Solutions Later.
3. Jumping to compromise
There are two sisters in a kitchen and only one orange. Both of them want the orange. What could they do? Cut the orange in half, you say??
That’s what they did. One sister went to the juicer and started to squeeze herself a drink, which turned out too small to satisfy. She then threw out the rind. The other sister, with some difficulty, began to grate the rind of her half of the orange to flavor a cake. She then threw out the juicy pulp. They both had only half an orange when, in effect, they could have had the whole orange.
This simple story illustrates the problem with compromise. The goal of resolving a conflict is NOT to compromise. Compromise is a lose-lose scenario. You are looking for a win-win! The key to finding the win-win is in communication. Get the parties together and have them each explain their needs, everyone might be surprised at what they learn.
Be aware, there is no one quick fix to every conflict. The key is to get everyone talking, openly, honestly, and without fear of retribution. As the manager, it is not up to you to resolve the issue, it is up to you to facilitate the dialogue so that the parties involved reach a solution together.
For more information on conflict resolution check out a free, full-length, preview of our Dialogues series.
August 7, 2008
This article was originally published by Business Week. http://allbusiness.businessweek.com/human-resources/careers-job-training/1465-1.html
Well-trained employees are the key to your small business success. Studies have shown that the most successful, productive employees are those who have received extensive training. They’re the cream of the crop, often having the strongest stake in the company’s future.
In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess the exact skills your business needs. But in today’s competitive labor market, demand for skilled workers far exceeds supply.
That’s where training comes in. Not only does instruction arm your employees with needed professional or technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps keep workers motivated and involved.
To successfully launch an employee training program in your own company, follow these 10 helpful tips:
1. Stress training as investment. The reason training is often considered optional at many companies is because it is thought of as an expense rather than an investment. While it’s true that training can be costly up front, it’s a long-term investment in the growth and development of your human resources.
2. Determine your needs. As you probably don’t have unlimited time or funds to execute an employee training program, you should decide early on what the focus of your training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent to address current or future company needs or ones that will provide the biggest payback. Ask yourself, “How will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?” Repeat this process as your business needs change.
3. Promote a culture of learning. In today’s fast-paced economy, if a business isn’t learning, it’s going to fall behind. A business learns as its people learn. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and stay on top of their professions or fields of work. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the resources needed to accomplish this goal.
4. Get management on board. Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that address key needs within your company, you need to convince management to rally behind the initiative.
5. Start out small. Before rolling out your training program to the masses, rehearse with a small group of users and gather their feedback. This sort of informal benchmarking exposes weaknesses in your training plans and helps you fine-tune the training process.
6. Choose quality instructors and materials. Who you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it’s a professional educator or simply a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important — after the training is over, these materials become valuable resources for trainees.
7. Find the right space. Select a training location that’s conducive to learning. Choose an environment that’s quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials. Make sure the space is equipped with a computer and projector, so you can present a visually stimulating training session.
8. Clarify connections. Some employees may feel that the training they’re receiving isn’t relevant to their job. It’s important to help them understand the connection early on, so they don’t view the training sessions as a waste of valuable time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional portfolios. Award people with completion certificates at the end of the program.
9. Make it ongoing. Don’t limit training solely to new employees. Organized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees’ skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.
10. Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demonstrate concrete results.