October 21, 2015
In any relationship, some conflict is both inevitable and necessary to get feedback about how others perceive you and to push you towards peak performance. Let’s face it – many marriages fail due to a lack of communication. Why wouldn’t the same lack be as toxic in your business? Think about these situations:
- The dissatisfied customer who doesn’t complain but just tells their entire network how they feel.
- The worker who silently rebels by having ‘sickies’ or failing to produce quality work.
- The supervisor who allocates less interesting tasks to an employee due to an out-dated (but unstated) opinion of their capability.
- The manager who seeks out reasons to condemn rather than opportunities to improve.
- The executives who smile and joke with each other at meetings but who discourage cooperation with other sections when things go wrong.
Conflicts fall into one of two categories – they’re either personality-based or attributed to decisions, ideas, policies, etc. The key to changing the situation is to create a workplace environment where differing opinions are welcomed and genuinely considered – from both internal and external stakeholders.
If your employees are unused to being open and honest with their opinions, then it may be worthwhile starting with an anonymous employee opinion survey. But be warned that your employees will be watching your response closely to see that you have taken the feedback in the positive spirit of continuous improvement, rather than criticism and defensiveness. If you need more information in order to fully understand the issue, hold focus groups with your employees to get to the heart of the issue. Then take action. Even if the action is to communicate why you can’t change things, at least you are addressing the issue.
If your employees have a level of trust and are happy to speak up about their experience of work, then regularly and proactively asking them for their suggestions and ideas will give you the opportunity to nip conflict in the bud and to become proactive about your product and service delivery and operational productivity.
Apply the same concepts to your customers and you have used an anti-venom to the poison that unstated conflict can cause your business.
If you need assistance with employee opinion surveys, facilitation of focus groups or conflict resolution in your workplace, get in contact! We have the technology and the experience to help.