As a leader and a manager of people, you have a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous responsibility. The opportunity is you get the chance to actually influence the behavior of people in a way that helps them grow at the same time help a company or division grow. The responsibility requires you to not take this job lightly and to look for and relish the chance to have an empowering conversation with an employee.
Great you say. When things are going well, it’s easy to have that dialogue. It’s when the news isn’t so good that the typical manager would rather eat nails then sit down and have the hard conversation with an employee.
The Secrets to Reducing Bad Behavior that Leads to Conflict
What are the secrets to having those difficult dialogues and have them actually influence the behavior of a troublesome employee? How can you get comfortable calling an employee into your office knowing the conversation isn’t going to be pleasant?
Here are the four secrets to making conflict and confrontation easier to handle and how to encourage the type of behavior you want out of your people.
1. Be very clear on what behaviors you will tolerate and which behaviors you won’t tolerate and communicate those beliefs to your direct reports.
Conflict arises for many reasons: deadlines causing people to be short-tempered; personality conflicts; lack of information; a misunderstanding; competition. There is no way to avoid conflict in the workplace. At the very least, however, a manager should define how they want people to behave in good and bad situations.
2. Clarity on expectations helps eliminate those ‘uncomfortable’ conversations.
Lots of managers make the mistake of thinking if they simply demonstrate how they want people to behave, that will suffice. Unfortunately, you can’t assume your employees are picking up those signals. I hear all the time, “I thought they knew what I wanted”. We all know how assumptions work. They don’t. So make sure that from the minute a new employee is brought on board, you have clearly defined job descriptions, clearly defined performance management plans, and clearly defined expectations on how that employee will be evaluated. And you are communicating these expectations on a weekly basis.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
You can’t do it fast enough and you can’t do it often enough. Your employees look to you to know what is going on in the company. Never underestimate the value you, as the manager, plays in setting the tone and the confidence level of your division or the company. The more information you can share with your direct reports, the more they can share with their direct reports.
4. Watch for behaviors that cause turmoil and be prepared to address it immediately.
It’s going to happen. Conflict and confrontation are a part of us being human. So first, expect it. Second do what you can to lay the groundwork to minimize it. Third, when it happens, take it on right there and then. That doesn’t mean dress someone down in front of others. We all know that one is a no-no. However, in more cases than not, a manager will witness behavior that is counter- productive and choose to ignore it. If behavior isn’t corrected when it happens, it’s very easy for the person who behaved badly to challenge you when you do get around to bringing it up. You lose every time in that discussion.
Too many companies allow bad behavior to languish and define the culture of a company. It is up to the leaders and the managers to set the boundaries for behavior and expectations in their company.
We help organizations with employee challenges every day. We’ve been doing this type of work for twenty-five plus years – we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two. Give us a shout, we’d love to help your business.