For High Performance, 10 Steps to Manage Conflict

For progress, a business needs human interaction for ideas and innovation. Sometimes, argument, debate and conflict prove to be productive catalysts for high performance.

Of course, such catalysts can be obstacles to success, too.

A perfectly running organization is like a high-performance race car. Like all high-performance machines, well-managed organizations need ongoing attention and maintenance.

ID-10063171 David Castillo DominiciOtherwise, poor morale and teamwork, and conflict lead to losses in profit.

Here are the simplest steps to manage conflict:

1. Be a good role model 

Managers become leaders — in leading by example. The list is long for steps to bolster a culture of mutual respect. That includes good listening skills, using discretion and being respectful. 

Water-cooler gossip must be discouraged. Listen to the complaints and document them. Be fair. Don’t fan the flames of discontent. 

2. Walk the floor twice a day

Managers succeed in part by observing their employees, and engaging them with open-ended questions. Show empathy, and interest in their work and personal lives. Encourage a career/life balance.

A perfectly running organization is like a high-performance race car.

3. Create and use a manual 

This minimizes and helps to prevent confusion and nebulous communication. Make it visible and obvious.

4. Review policies 

If you have teamwork issues, remember you might have problems with the policies not the people. Evaluate practices, procedures and policies. 

5. Examine your performance-appraisal process 

Check to make sure you are fair and accurate in how you evaluate the performance of your team members. That is accomplished by developing a mindset for leadership in performance reviews.

You must conduct regular employee-performance reviews with confidence and take steps to see that employees feel they get valid feedback.

Standards should be explicitly clear. If a team member doesn’t understand job requirements that’s the fault of the manager not the employee. The employee should be told how performance will be measured and recognized.

Team members deserve to know three things:

— What’s expected

— How they’re doing

— What’s in in for them

6. Strive for effective communication and team meetings

When your organization is running well, don’t take it for granted. Regular meetings will help you prevent problems from rearing their ugly heads without your knowledge. Be accessible between meetings.

7. Encourage a positive learning curve for employees

Conflicts occur when there’s not a supportive environment for learning. Invest time in coaching. Make sure each new employee has a mentor for support.

8. Keep your eyes open

Be a good observer — like a private eye or detective. Ask questions, but focus on observing. You’ll learn more that way.

9. Focus on succession planning

You might need to hire people for certain skilled positions. But long term, you’ll be better off if you hire new people to start at lower positions and make it possible for them to work their way up.

Employees will be better able to learn your organization. You will encourage employee loyalty, and you’ll enhance your prospects for strong morale.

10. Continue to observe and listen

Listen to all complaints even from your most difficult employees. True, some employees must be terminated, but some are merely devils advocates who need to be heard.

There might be good reasons for their discontent. Listen to them privately to learn what they think and how they feel. You might be surprised, pleasantly, at what you learn.

From the Coach’s Corner, here more management tips:

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — Questions may arise about human resources. How to properly evaluate employees? Here are the answers.

Easy Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Morale — Employee morale affects performance. Study after study shows a significant percentage of worker morale is mediocre, at best. That’s often the case even for companies that are able to pay competitive wages and benefits. As you might guess, it’s a bigger quandary for business owners that don’t have enough cash flow for raises.

Strategies: If a Valued Employee Wants a Raise, and Money’s Tight — In this economy, whether you operate a large or small company, trepidation of higher payroll expenses can turn your hands cold with perspiration. That’s especially true when talented employees suddenly ask for a raise. Talented workers are an asset – your human capital.

Red Flags You’re Losing an Employee — In employee retention, you never have to be surprised again. There are common traits among employees who are likely to quit — even those who are secretive about their plans.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem. Check your attendance records. Monday is the most-abused day of the week and January is the worst month for absenteeism.

“Kindness is in your power, even when fondness is not.”

-Samuel Johnson


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Are You Using Best-Practices in HR Management for Growth?

Here are HR solutions to accelerate your growth

In cost-cutting, many companies focus on the wrong priorities when they’re too quick to implement layoffs and cut back marketing budgets.

It’s obvious many companies have struggled.

“Duh,” you’re thinking.

Cutting costs is vital. But operating efficiently with best-practices in management and marketing should be the top goals.

Where to start?

The best way to achieve optimum efficiency is a management-performance audit, development of solutions and implementation of best-practices in management.

So, I was delighted to spot the results of a study by RainmakerThinking, Inc.

The study is entitled, “Increased supervision and management was the #1 most effective business strategy.”

To cope with the lingering adverse effects from the Great Recession, the study shows companies implemented one or more of three strategies in 2009.

They included:

1. Cost-cutting

2. Other innovations, such as processes of production or delivery

3. Improved management

As expected, the companies that implemented all three strategies performed the best. And if none was implemented, the financial performance was dismal.

Here’s what happened when businesses implemented just one of these strategies:

– Cost cutting – “…were the most likely to report that their bottom line financial results (at the level closest to the manager’s control) in 2009 were ‘bad,’ ‘very bad,’ ‘worse than expected,’ or ‘much worse than expected.’”

– Innovation “…other than cost cutting’ did better than those who pursued only cost-cutting, but less than half of these managers reported that results were ‘good,’ ‘very good,’ ‘better than expected, or ‘much better than expected.’”

– Improved management – “more than half reported that results were ‘good,’ ‘very good,’ ‘better than expected,’ or ‘much better than expected.’

Not to be sarcastic, but what really brought a smile for me was seeing the results for those companies that did not improve management.

By not upgrading management, here are the reported consequences:

  • “too much time” solving “preventable problems”
  • “too much time” solving “small problems that got out of control” “
  • “too much time” on “salvaging wasted resources”
  • Nearly 50 percent reported their employees appeared “demoralized and worried”
  • An unspecified high percentage suffered from “increased turnover among high performers”

My comment: Amen. I’d also add some big-picture strategies for how to improve management.

“The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”

 -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Client case study

A public agency was regularly pummeled by negative publicity in the newspapers because of a$250,000 embezzlement by a longtime employee. The agency was worried about its poor image from the embezzlement, not to mention many unhappy ratepayers who were already dissatisfied with the agency’s customer service.

Of course, the senior manager was apprehensive about hiring a consultant. But she knew her board of directors was restless. To persuade her to hire my firm, I stressed that she would receive full-service, confidential solutions. She agreed to hire me.

A public relations campaign was deemed insufficient. In just walking through the offices, I sensed an inefficient workplace culture. Fear and negativity were rampant. Embezzlements were likely to reoccur and customer complaints would continue.

Because the agency’s budget was problematic, I suggested focusing on the internal issues and the PR would take care of itself.

The agency adopted my recommendations:

  • Assess the extent of issues in human resources.
  • Solutions included interviewing each employee with open-ended questions.
  • We issued a press release containing empathy toward ratepayers, and reassured the public that steps were being taken to prevent future embezzlements and to improve customer service.
  • I designed a comprehensive training program for all workers. Many employees were apprehensive and hostile to management. I told them that my dialogues with them would confidential. However, I would provide senior management with a report on the general status of the training, and whether any employees were un-trainable.
  • I trained managers in what the non-exempt staff would be learning. Managers were deficient in soft skills, too. Afterward, I taught them how to be good supervisors. In that way, the managers would be able to reinforce my principles as I trained their employees.
  • Once managers were trained in the two modules, I trained the non-exempt staff. Because of the negative attitudes, many workers required mentoring.
  • Management reports – I notified management of a popular employee who was not trainable.

Management ignored my warning, and a week later my client received a phone from a uniform vendor. My sheepish client then called me. I was told the vendor complained about the agency’s employee in-question – accusing him of sexually harassing a teenage employee.

While it served as a validation for my firm’s process, it was an urgent problem and we immediately developed a strategy. When informed of the accusation, the agency employee vehemently denied sexually harassing the the vendor’s employee. Instead, he blamed me for the problem. But two hours later, the accused employee abruptly resigned and left the state.

As for the training program, it worked and the agency became a model for efficiency and great customer service.

Again, the No. 1 key to success — best practices in management.

From the Coach’s Corner, you might consider other HR strategies.

“The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”

 -Oliver Wendell Holmes


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.