Conflict in the Workplace Part 1:  Good OR Bad?

b loehr - conflict 2Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Who hasn’t had some misunderstanding, disagreement, or clash with a co-worker or supervisor? Few companies can truthfully claim a totally conflict-free environment, and that’s why leadership must be proactive about recognizing conflict and implementing resolution techniques.

Unaddressed discord can impact productivity—negatively of course—and wreak havoc throughout the company. But did you know that a certain level of conflict can be good?

Adopt an attitude that resists the “all conflict is bad” mindset and insist your management team do so as well. Because…

  • A difference of opinion can encourage open-mindedness if both parties are encouraged to express themselves in a safe environment where opinions are respected.
  • The sharing of opposite points of view can generate new understanding in an “I never thought of it like that” way.
  • Questioning a thought, process, or opinion can stimulate out-of-the-box thinking that sparks innovative ideas.
  • An open dialogue that doesn’t run or hide from conflict can bring to light issues that have quietly lurked for years, subtly sabotaging either morale, productivity or both.

Where the status quo reigns, nothing changes. Ever! Conflict doesn’t have to be a hindrance or lead to stagnation. Rather it can be a catalyst for positive change as it represents an opportunity to mold and flesh out notions and views and theories. Imagine the possibilities… Breakthroughs. Exciting concepts. Groundbreaking visions.

If only all conflict could be labeled “good,” but assuming all conflict will have a positive end is wishful thinking. While minor disagreements may work themselves out, you can be sure more major situations will not magically disappear. It’s advisable to discover the squabble in the advertising department—or shipping or accounting—before it erupts into a screaming match and/or a fist fight in the main corridor.

The bigger the organization, the easier it is for disagreements to go undetected. Engage the assistance of your department heads and supervisors to monitor for disturbances that may either:

  1. Quickly escalate into a firestorm or
  2. Simmer at a low, slow burn, spreading a choking smoke.

If the early rumbles often slip past you, enlist the support of an assistant—someone who can easily spot dissension before it becomes toxic.

Not every quarrel needs your time and attention, and deciding when to get involved can be tricky. Next week, in part 2, we’ll explore strategies for discerning the need for intervention and the steps to resolve conflict before it damages the company.

Because B. Loehr Staffing understands the myriad of employment issues which companies face, our Client Resource Center is chock full of helpful links to assist you in finding the answers you need. With over 115 years of experience in the staffing industry, you can trust us to be your comprehensive resource for supplemental staffing and human resources management.

Handling Conflict with Co-Workers

b loehr - conflictThe company is great. The job itself is going well. If you could just do something about that guy or gal at the corner desk who you swear has it in for you. He/she seriously rubs you the wrong way. And not just occasionally.

You grin and bear it, but pretty soon your jaw aches—from clenching your teeth. And the job you once loved just isn’t so great anymore.

A strained relationship with a colleague can certainly wear you down. Worse than that, it can wreak havoc with your work performance and even sideline well-mapped-out career goals. Before that happens, be proactive and take these steps toward resolution and reconciliation.  

Begin with a conversation—not a confrontation

A private, direct conversation is the place to start. Consider this four-step formula by Meredith Haberfeld, co-founder of the Institute for Coaching:

  1. Tell the person what hasn’t worked and generously invite their feedback.
  2. Share what your interpretations have been—recognize that this might not necessarily be the truth.
  3. Make clear requests by flipping your original complaints into forward-looking suggestions.
  4. Invite their feedback and listen generously.

Notice this approach involves the concerns of both parties and stresses generosity toward the other person. Then give it some time as a resolution is unlikely to happen overnight.

In the meantime:

 Choose to be an adult

Eye rolling, death glares, exaggerated sighing and other middle-school like behaviors have no place on the job. Be pleasant and contain the body language even if the co-worker chooses differently.

 Keep it between the two of you

Bad mouthing the annoying co-worker will shed as much or more light on you—and not in a positive way—than it does on your colleague. If you must blow off steam, share in confidence with a spouse or close friend outside of the company.

 If possible, limit interaction

To minimize frustration and tension, exercise control when and where you can. Take breaks and lunch away from the offending co-worker. Of course you don’t have a choice about assigned work, but don’t volunteer to work together on a project or co-chair an event. Consider asking for a desk reassignment.

 Take it to management

If little or nothing improves after the heart-to-heart, it’s probably time to talk to your immediate supervisor or the boss. Share the specifics of the situation, how it impacts your job performance and the steps you’ve taken to reach a resolution. Be upfront about what you feel will have to happen to bring a lasting solution.

 When enough is enough…

 Look for a new job  

If the relationship continues to deteriorate and steps to remedy the situation have been unsuccessful, it could well be time to move on. Don’t wait until the conflict has caused stress-related health issues or caused permanent damage to your long-term goals. Sometimes the best and only resolution is to remove yourself from the situation entirely.

B Loehr Staffing specializes in matching quality candidates with positions that fit their hard and soft skill sets, lifestyle, and work-life balance preferences. Whether you’re looking for short term, long term, temp-hire, part-time or a full- time position, our staffing specialists are ready to assist you in realizing your employment dreams. Contact us today.

Culture Fit Part 2: How to Determine if “You and They” Match 

b loehr - cultural fitIf you’ve ever found yourself in a working environment that you loathe, you know the importance of feeling like you belong, like you mesh well with the company mindset. This mindset— the business’s personality—is the “company culture”. And as its importance becomes more clearly understood, employees and employers alike are focusing more attention on this area. So much so that desiring a good “cultural fit” ranks high as a reason for deciding to switch careers or embark on a “new job” search.

First, go into any job-search scenario with a clear picture of what inspires and motivates you to be the best employee. It may be easier to work this equation initially in reverse.

  • What makes it difficult for you to perform?
  • What deflates your enthusiasm?
  • What is so irritating or distracting that your productivity suffers greatly?
  • What core values are most important to you?
  • What leadership style brings out the best in you?

Answers to these and other work habits/preferences/pet peeves questions will paint a picture of your ideal workplace culture.

While it’s difficult to nail down all the nitty-gritty specifics of a company’s culture without actually being on the payroll, a little detective work can help you decide whether a position at ABC Inc. is worth pursuing.

But assessing corporate culture is a task not to be taken lightly. Everything from office décor and dress code to history and tradition to a plethora of unwritten—often even unspoken—rules get mish-mashed together to form the way the company accomplishes work on a day to day basis.

Google any potential employer, checking out their website, social media interactions, charitable work and community involvement as well as press releases and articles associated with the business. Look for the level of professionalism and branding their online presence exudes. Anything that allows a peek into the world of ABC Inc. will be a piece in the puzzle of their culture.

Then add to the culture picture from info gleaned during the interview. Questions that will explore the components of the company’s culture include—

  • How would you measure performance for this position?
  • Can you share an example of your leadership style? Two examples?
  • How is the company handling this year’s greatest challenge?
  • What three or four traits do your most talented employees possess?
  • What is one thing about the culture you would change if possible?

Even a terrific compensation package cannot remedy a dreaded workplace environment. So take the time to piece together the “cultural fit” puzzle for the best chance of realizing a great match.

B. Loehr Staffing can direct you to a job that fits your company culture preferences. Whether you are looking for short term, long term, part-time or a full-time position, we can offer you the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. Contact us today to become a part of our winning team.

Culture Fit Part 1 – Why Candidates Need to Zero in on Culture Fit

b loehr - culture fitThe compensation package is quite competitive. The job responsibilities well within your skill set. The commute will be a cinch. And they seem eager to have you on their team. Awesome, right?

Yeah, sure. Anyway, you’re really not that concerned that the company’s structure and the general atmosphere seem … seem off somehow. It’s not that important. After all, you can put up with some minor issues if the money is good, the job easy and the drive short. It’s all good.

Actually, it’s probably not all good.

All the money in the world can’t compensate for a working environment where, day in and day out, you feel like a square peg being forced into a round hole. A reasonable alignment with the company’s culture is a must if you want to be both happy and successful at your job. And who doesn’t want that?

The values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors—shared by the group of individuals who make up the workforce—are the components that make up a company’s culture. It’s the set of shared expectations that create a productive work environment and enable an organization to be successful. Alignment with the company’s culture allows for success in individual roles and encourages a high level of job satisfaction.
It’s in everyone’s best interest when a candidate is a “fit” with the company’s culture.

So it is important if the atmosphere seems off. Remember, a job is more than simply a location where you perform a set of duties for 8+ hours a day, 40-50 hours a week. There’s a lot more to be considered than the tasks to be completed. Things like dealing with coworkers and bosses, not to mention the company politics that exist whether anyone will admit it, can be at the very least, draining. At the worst, it can result in an unhappy, unproductive, and ultimately unhealthy environment that reaches a toxic level.

It’s no surprise that success and happiness are close relatives in most job settings which means if you’re miserable, it’s likely your level of success and productivity will be dismal as well. And that’s not anyone’s goal—employer or employee.

While 100% alignment seldom happens, your goal should be to find organizations where the culture and your values can coexist. In Company Culture Part 2, we’ll examine the individual components that make up company culture and how to determine if your personality and environment preferences are a workable match with a prospective employer.

At B. Loehr Staffing, we value the importance of matching candidates with company cultures where the candidate can thrive. We strive to create winning partnerships between our client companies and the candidates we place. Let us assist you in meeting all of your career goals – we’ve been doing it for more than 100 years!

3 Steps to Nurturing a Long-Term Relationship with your Staffing Firm

b loehr - nurturingWith the ink drying on the contract you just signed with that terrific recruiting firm, you can relax, kick back and let them handle everything… right? Hmm… not so fast.

The right staffing firm will definitely make staffing your company with talented employees whose skills match your needs easier—more efficient and effective than if you tackled the task alone. But do nothing? That’s not a good idea.

The best staffing firm relationships come from a partnership, a commitment to work together toward meeting your company’s staffing needs—now and in the future. You see, the more effort you devote to developing a close working relationship, the more satisfied you’ll be with the end results.

Let me repeat myself, now is not the time to sit back and just let things happen. A decision to maintain and nurture this important relationship is a must. These steps will set you on a path to a successful, long-term partnership.

  1. Make communication a priority 

The first order of business should be focused on establishing a regular channel of communication. About everything. Seriously, the more the staffing specialist knows about your company, the better. The culture, the working conditions, the variety of products/services offered, the company’s goals and aspirations, what is causing the staffing need, the minute details about your staffing needs—like I said, everything.  The more information he/she is able to gather, the better equipped the staffing firm will be to deliver a qualified candidate to meet your staffing needs.

  1. Define your staffing needs

Before the firm can supply the best-suited candidates for your open positions, you must have a clear, detailed understanding of what your exact staffing needs are. A general “we need someone in the office” or “the warehouse is short-handed” or “the tech team could use more help” simply will not cut it. Before you approach the staffing firm, put time and thought into the specifics concerning the needs of each and every department. Involve the appropriate supervisors, managers and co-workers to assist in painting an accurate picture of the skills/experience as well as the intangibles, personality, and cultural needed. Even very short-term openings will be better filled if you can pass along a clear understanding of the type of candidate you need.

  1. Determine duties and skills 

Thorough job descriptions are of critical importance to successful candidate placement. Of course, the staffing specialist will need to know the duties to be accomplished by the candidate. But knowing the specific skills you want this candidate to possess will give added direction and insight, and up the chances of that “perfect fit,” which both sides are striving for. Take into account how heavily personality figures into some positions and relay this information as well. Again, tap the input of management and co-workers to form a complete assessment of each position.

At B. Loehr Staffing we are committed to supporting your growth plans and helping you maintain optimal staffing efficiency. As a St. Louis staffing source since 1898, “We’re not the best because we’re the oldest, we’re the oldest because we’re the best.”is more than just a slogan. Contact us today about establishing a partnership to meet all of your staffing needs.