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Fisher & Phillips LLP ATTORNEYS AT LAW Solutions at Work ®. How to Effectively Deal with Conflict in the Workplace. Presented by: Laura P. Jordan Phone: (503) 242-4262 Email: [email protected]

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Fisher & PhillipsLLP


Solutions at Work®

How to Effectively Deal with Conflict in the Workplace

Presented by:Laura P. Jordan

Phone: (503) 242-4262Email: [email protected]

Atlanta • Boston • Charlotte • Chicago • Cleveland • Columbia • Dallas • Denver • Fort Lauderdale • Houston • Irvine • Kansas City • Las Vegas • Los Angeles

Louisville Memphis • New England • New Jersey • New Orleans • Orlando • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Portland • San Diego • San Francisco • Tampa • Washington, DC

  • Workplace Conflict Resolution
  • Dealing With Difficult Employees
  • Scenarios
  • Summary
why conflict resolution
Why Conflict Resolution?


  • United States Department Of Justice, 1994
conflict in the workplace
Conflict in the Workplace
  • Workplace Conflict
    • Can be a serious problem in the workplace
    • Will result in a loss of productive employee time
    • Could result in civil/administrative litigation
      • Costs of defense
      • Costs of an adverse determination
    • Personal liability of managers and supervisors
how to resolve conflict
How to Resolve Conflict
  • Manage
  • Identify Opportunities
  • Meet Challenges Head-On
  • Communicate
  • Pay Attention to the People
manager s role
Manager’s Role
  • Prevention through good company culture, training and education
  • Proactive and responsive to complaints
  • All reasonable steps necessary to prevent
  • Prompt, thorough and effective investigations
  • Appropriate follow-through
key manager responsibilities
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • Be a positive force/influence
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Uphold Performance Standards
  • Model Appropriate Workplace Conduct
  • Filter issues to determine what needs to be raised with HR or management
key manager responsibilities1
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • Be a positive force/influence
    • You are the face of the company
    • Negative attitude/interactions reflect on the entire organization
    • Most employee disputes can be dealt with early or avoided through positive communication
key manager responsibilities2
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • “Positive Communication” requires that you actively engage your employees.
  • It is not okay to ignore issues in the workplace.
  • How do you actively engage your employees?
key manager responsibilities3
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • Communicate Effectively
    • Clear notice of expectations
    • Opportunity to meet standards
    • Feedback on performance
      • Performance evaluations
      • Disciplinary action
      • Positive praise where appropriate
key manager responsibilities4
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • Uphold Company Performance Standards
    • Impose a duty on employees
    • Find a benchmark that can be used to measure performance
    • Requires more professionalism than what the law requires
key manager responsibilities5
Key Manager Responsibilities
  • Model Appropriate Workplace Conduct
    • The manager’s conduct is the standard for employees
      • Employees will not conform to policies if manager does not conform
      • Ignoring issues undermines the policies
key manager responsibilities6
Key Manager Responsibilities

Filter of Issues/Disputes

  • Not every workplace dispute needs to be reported to HR or senior management
  • Look at the totality of the circumstances
    • Is a protected status implicated?
    • Are factors other than one’s ability to perform a job at issue?
    • Not sure whether to involve HR?
managing employees
Managing Employees
  • Treat Employees With Dignity And Respect
    • Find an office or conference room for privacy
    • Start with general, open-ended questions
    • Avoid questions that suggest a bias
    • Avoid editorial comments or legal conclusions
    • Any matter that is potentially significant (such as harassment, discrimination, family leave, retaliation, wage and hour or workplace safety) must be reported to HR
managing employees1
Managing Employees
  • What to Document
    • Performance Assessments

Both formal and informal performance evaluations should be documented

Tie the evaluation to job-related standards

    • Performance Management/Discipline

Give the employee specific information about performance problems and the steps to correct the problems

identify opportunities
Identify Opportunities
  • Nip it in the bud!
  • Ears and eyes open
  • Look for the real issues
  • Beware of motives
  • Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear!
meet challenges head on
Meet Challenges Head-On
  • What elephant?
  • Avoiding a problem is not likely to make it go away
  • More likely to grow out of control if not addressed
  • Two-way process
  • Skill
  • Clear
  • Timely
  • Effective
  • Consistent
  • Personal
  • Positive
  • Respectful
  • Motivational
pay attention to the people
Pay Attention to the People
  • Don’t get carried away by other distractions
  • A little bit of employee relations goes a long way
  • More and more important in this economic environment
identifying issues
Identifying Issues
  • Silence, bickering, pettiness
  • Lack of team approach
  • Complaints
  • Other symptoms
resolving workplace issues
Resolving Workplace Issues
  • One-on-one
  • Group
  • Third party
  • Goal setting
  • Common benefits
  • Or else
dealing with difficult employees
Dealing with Difficult Employees
  • Direct
  • Professional
  • Deal with issues
  • Avoid traps
    • Legal
    • Personal
  • Every manager has a tendency to put off those difficult conversations hoping the problem will disappear
  • Whether vulgar language, excessive gossip, inappropriate dress, personal hygiene, or performance issues, every manager will face difficult employee issues
reality continued
Reality (continued)
  • Supervisors need to be skilled and understand what is legal
  • More than that, they need to understand what will work
    • How to begin the conversation
    • How to confront difficult employees
    • How to create an atmosphere that engages employees
    • How to discover the truth and learn what is really the cause
reality continued1
Reality (continued)
  • Attitude problems
  • Rule breakers
  • Does not play well with others
  • An excuse for everything
  • Keeping a record
  • Intentionally difficult
reality continued2
Reality (continued)
  • Address the facts
  • No tolerance for threats, accusations and defiance
  • Productive ways to counsel employees
  • Keep your emotions under control
  • Focus on the problem, not the person
the right approach
The Right Approach
  • We are all in this together
  • Do you want to be a part of the team?
  • Do you want to succeed?
  • Attitude problems
    • Identify the real issue
    • Motivation
    • Address as appropriate
  • Rule breakers
    • Testing?
    • Showing off?
    • Pushing the limits?
    • Leader of the group?
  • Does not play well with others
    • Source of conflict
    • Motives?
  • An excuse for everything
    • Has it worked?
    • Real issues?
    • Find a cure
  • Keeping a record
    • Always pretend you are being recorded
    • Warning bells
    • Don’t be scared
    • You’re the star!
  • Intentionally difficult
    • Agenda
    • Defense mechanism
    • Zero tolerance
  • Constant Complainer
    • Negativism
    • Setting an example
    • Subject of dissatisfaction
  • Handwriting on the Wall
    • Waiting to act
    • Correct timing
    • Decision point
stay legal
Stay Legal
  • All actions subject to review
  • Identify attempts to mischaracterize
  • Watch for fraud
  • Watch for buzzwords
  • Create your own record
key points to remember
Key Points to Remember
  • Manage employees
  • Deal with complaints and problems
  • Realize “perception” is as important as reality
  • Remember the goal is to prevent, resolve and avoid claims – not to “win”

Fisher & PhillipsLLP


Solutions at Work®

Thank You!

Follow up and final questions?

Presented by:Laura P. JordanPhone: (503) 242-4262Email: [email protected]

Atlanta • Boston • Charlotte • Chicago • Cleveland • Columbia • Dallas • Denver • Fort Lauderdale • Houston • Irvine • Kansas City • Las Vegas • Los Angeles

Louisville Memphis • New England • New Jersey • New Orleans • Orlando • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Portland • San Diego • San Francisco • Tampa • Washington, DC