Dealing with people is difficult.
Everyone can’t be wrong.
When I was a kid I said to mum, “Everyone is giving me the sh_ts!” With a gentle tone she responded, “Oh sweat heart…everyone can’t be wrong.” Ouch!
Living and working with people is not easy.
We can’t avoid being part of a group. Every day we interact in one group and then another. Our social lives, our leisure time and our working lives are filled with groups.
The quality of our groups – being socially connected and supported – has a greater impact on our health than anything else, even giving up smoking, exercising or eating a healthy diet!
Small group social skills is the key to unlocking improved performance
What determines the quality of our group? How well a group functions and the quality of relationships within the group is largely determined by group members’, especially the group leader’s (managers/parents), and small group social skills.
Advanced socials skills leads to less conflict, more positive relationships among group members and higher achievement of group goals.
Researchers Thomas and Schmidt (1996) found that up to 25% of a managers’ time was spent dealing with interpersonal conflict between staff and the cost in lost time and resources in dealing with conflict was around $15,000 per annum per staff member.
Small group social skills include, problem solving, leadership, listening, conflict resolution, turn taking, putting in equal effort, assertiveness (not aggression), communication etc.
So how do you structure your work group to ensure you keep costly conflict to a minimum and maximise collaboration and peer support?
Setting Work Colleague Support Standards
Early this year we were invited into a farm machinery business employing 28 staff. The reason for the invitation was cantered on two key staff not getting along and that their strained relationship had spread through the entire branch. The real issue was poor performance measurement and feedback structures and a manager who did not have the necessary conflict resolution and assertive skills to fix the problem.
We supported the two staff working through their issues and then we worked with staff to develop their Work Colleague Support standards. At a meeting with staff we asked them to list the qualities/behaviours of an ideal work colleague. We collated their responses into themes, which we placed into an assessment document where each staff member rated themselves and each other.
The Colleague Support Standards measured their individual competencies in small group social skills, which included:
Punctuality – Arriving to work/meeting on time and making the most of their time at work. Not wasting time on mobile phones and/or social media.
Work Quality – Completing tasks fully and accurately so as to make it easy for the next person.
Work Ethic – looking for work instead of waiting for work to be assigned. Demonstrating an attitude of nothing is too much trouble.
Emotional Maturity – not getting moody/grumpy when busy or stressed. Attacks problems, not people. Comes to work in a good mood and stays that way throughout the day.
Constructive/Supportive – Noticing when a colleague is struggling and offering to lend a hand. Not bitching or moaning behind others’ backs. Putting forward their ideas on how to improve work practices
Client Engagement – Quick to serve customers. Looks for sales opportunities and offers clients extra products services without the client having to ask.
Staff set a 75 per cent rating that all managers and staff were expected to achieve. Each staff member received their score compared to the group average, the best score of the group and the 75 percent target.
As a result, the group dynamics changed, and the change was was largely driven by staff.
We then cascaded their Work Colleagues Support Standards into the business’ Employee Handbook, staffs’ position descriptions and performance reviews so that managers were better equipped to resolve any future conflicts.
I was once asked if I could run a course on dealing with difficult people. My response: “No I don’t, but I can run a course on dealing with people is difficult.”
Dealing with people is less difficult when managers:
Email me if you’d like more information about developing and setting Work Colleague Standards.