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Five Ways to Cause Problems with Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 3, 2011

As a professional mediator, I know that certain behaviors can result in on-the-job conflicts that adversely affect your bottom line. You can steer clear of most workplace problems by avoiding:

1. Negative motivation. Starting every sentence with "Listen, you idiot" may be your management style, but belittling employees just doesn’t work. In fact, they actually do less for you when you rant and rave than when you use positive, respectful language.

2. Being the only idea person. Doubting an employee’s ability to contribute to your success can be a big mistake. Everyone has the potential to come up with great solutions, regardless of their standing in the organizational chart. Being open to ideas from a variety of sources keeps distractions and infighting to a minimum.

3. Pitting people against each other. Sparring works well for boxers, but throwing your unsuspecting staffers into the ring doesn’t toughen them up; it just makes them angry when they figure out that you’re the one who’s orchestrating tension among them. Rather than using competition as a way to eke out a few more sales, give assignments that exploit individual talents.

4. Being vague. Matchmakers claim that mystery can be intoxicating when you first meet a potential mate, but attempting to be coy with your employees frustrates them. Using wimpy language such as "when you get to it," giving hazy instructions, or making someone else break bad news creates problems. Use clear, concise language and be professional enough to give people the opportunity to know what the actual problems are. It’s much easier to resolve real issues than to play 20 questions or fix the wrong problems.

5. Being defensive. Never admitting you’ve done anything wrong or ignoring the fact that you’ve mishandled a situation takes lot more energy than it does to own up to an error and work to repair it. If you present your error as a learning experience, your employees will be more apt to help you resolve the issue.

Vivian Scott
Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies
Snohomish, Wash.

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