Can you imagine if our farming clients sprayed for weeds only once they see the weeds from the road? Farmers and agros get out of their vehicles and inspect the crops, looking down and in between the productive plants for the plants that lowers yield, because - bad pushes out good.
Wait, better still, let’s apply some pre-emergence strategies so we don’t have to deal with the weeds when they have already impacted on the productive plants!
Poorly managed conflict - weeds everywhere - is the biggest internal threat to your business’ bottom line. Yet, many businesses do not have any formality around early identification, or pre-emergence conflict management strategies. We wait until everyone can see it from the road.
As we have discussed in previous articles:
• Conflict is an inevitable constant of our daily work lives. If it’s inevitable, then we need to be good at managing it.
• All workplace conflict will have a root cause, which will be due to one of, or a combination of poor, or inadequate:
1) Structures – policies, procedures, values, standards etc.
2) Resources – Information, technology, capital, people, stock, equipment etc.
3) Competencies (especially leadership competencies) – skills and knowledge; knowing what to do and how to do.
4) Commitment – Ambition and attitude; our want to do.
Over next few monthly articles we will put the business case for developing and implementing a staff morale, client satisfaction and bottom-line boosting (your crops) Proactive or Pre-emergence Conflict Management Structures (PCMS).
So first up, let’s expand our view of conflict.
Conflict: Can be both good and bad.
Some daily workplace examples of conflict escalation are, not returning phone calls, withholding information, not participating in team meetings, talking about others performances behind their backs, leaving a dirty cup in the sink when the sign just above the sink screams, “Clean your dishes…your mother does not work here!!”
The right conflict, healthy arguments over differing ideas in an environment of mutual respect stimulates both personal and business growth, not weed growth.
Conflict when managed early can be fun, stimulating, invigorating and renewing.
The difference between constructive and destructive conflict is largely determined by the quality of your businesses proactive conflict management structures. If your business has no formal structures, it will have informal ones. The informal ones will be based on an individual manager’s conflict management skills.
Conflict isn’t a bottle of red wine.
Unlike a nice bottle of red, conflict rarely gets better with age.
The complexity of dealing with conflict can be confronting and frightening. Fright is for flight, or avoidance. We don’t want to make things worse. We don’t want to upset someone.
In preparation for this article we surveyed 34 ag business managers. The results:
• Over the last 6 months 70 per cent said that they should have had twice as many crucial conversations than they actually had.
• Over 60 per cent said that their business did not have any formal conflict management structures.
• The most common reason for avoiding the conflict was the fear of making the situation worse…which of course often makes the situation worse.
No surprise here. None of us like to have difficult conversions, but it’s a necessity if we’re to have a healthy crop.
The cost of badly managed conflict.
Research indicates that mismanaged conflict (waiting too long to spray the paddock) wastes nearly 10 per cent of working hours. (J. A. Cram and R. K. Williams - The cost of conflict in the workplace).
Conflict accounts for over 70 per cent of involuntary departures from a business. And that it can cost up to 100 percent of an employee’s wage to replace that employee. Other costs – weeds - can include:
• Increased absenteeism.
• Productivity reduction through increased presenteeism; staff are at work but are disengaged.
• Compensation claims – bullying, stress, wrongful dismissal and legal costs.
• Recruitment costs.
• Brand damage.
• Theft and stock damage.
• Poor health outcomes.
Better personal health outcomes? Yes. A client and a reformed avoider said his blood pressure had now reduced to healthy levels.
Would you like to a copy?
Email us if you’d like our one-page PCMS rec summary and scoring guide email us. What score, out of 100, will be give your business’ PCMS?
And remember, a weed reduces the productivity of all the healthy plants around it. Bad pushes out good.
In next month’s blog we will discuss the components of a P.C.M.S. Until then keep your eyebrows up.
My first exposure to a management role came at the expense of my current manager (awkward!!) who was being removed due to staff complaining about his bullying type behaviour.
As he tossed his company car keys in my general direction (fuel gauge on empty) he said “Good-luck mate…no matter what you do for them they will never be happy”
Righto, so now what do I do? I had no formal training, there was no induction and in the blink of an eye I was a manager. What is my role? When I arrive on Monday as the ‘new’ branch manager, what are my peers going to expect from me? Everyone seemed happy with my appointment, but was that about me or about the exit of our former leader?
One lesson I learnt very quickly was the heightened level of expectation attached to a title. Now that I am the manager, staff expected me to have all the answers.
I spent my first few weeks steadying the ship, trying to keep things normal and talking with staff about their individual concerns, responsibilities, and expectations. However, I was still unsure on the actual purpose of my role. Am I expected to be a manager, or a leader, or both? Are the staff here to serve me, or am I here to serve them?
I remembered attending a sales training course and learnt how important it is to treat customers on how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated. So, I decided to adopt this approach and started treating staff like a customer by validating their expectations and providing solutions that supported their needs. Happy staff are productive staff (never a truer word spoken), and building a level of trust and respect with your staff is critical for leaders wanting to influence positive outcomes.
Managers manage tasks, people follow leaders.
Sometimes it may seem tough holding onto good employees, but it really shouldn’t be because most of the simple mistake’s managers make are easily avoided. If you fail to keep your best staff engaged…you won’t be able to keep your best staff.
People leave managers, not jobs.
Here are some leadership suggestions on how to give yourself every chance of retaining your best employees.
· Don't make up stupid rules as a lazy attempt to maintain order. Confront the issues, find the root cause of the problem and deal with the straws.
· Don't treat everyone the same or your best employees will believe no matter how well they perform they’ll just be treated the same as those who do nothing more than turn up.
· Never avoid conflict or tolerate poor performance. If you choose to ignore poor behaviour you are choosing to create cynicism and distrust which drags everyone else down, especially your best staff.
· Always recognise accomplishments (no matter how small) and never underrate the power of a simple pat on the back.
· Care about your people. Check-in regularly, empathise with those going through tough times and work with your staff in a way that shows you genuinely care.
· Share the big picture. Your best staff will care about their work, and what they do each day must have a purpose. When they don’t know your purpose, they’ll find one somewhere else.
· Help staff develop their passion. Providing opportunities to pursue passion improves productivity and job satisfaction. Studies reveal that people pursuing passions at work experience a euphoric state of mind 5 times more productive than normal.
· Make it fun to be at work. If people aren’t having fun at work, you’re doing it wrong. When work becomes fun staff will not only perform better, they will stick around for longer hours and have a longer career.
Managing people can be simple…but never easy.