Workplace Issues Summer 2017

By: Rodger Dinwiddie

“Why do I have to work with you?” If you’ve ever found yourself asking this question you’re not alone! My organization has had moments when “pain and suffering” seemed to dominate our culture. In fact, our own story was the inspiration to create a training program based on this premise.

One question our training includes is, “Have you looked for or considered looking for a new job in the past six months?” Nearly a third of respondents answer “yes,” and the root cause for looking elsewhere often boils down to workplace climate.

If you’re looking to improve workplace relationships and employee satisfaction, try these quick tips:

  1. Get honest with your emotional intelligence. Yes, employee conflicts involve at least two people, which means the problem could be you. For example, are you a task-oriented, data driven worker who just can’t sympathize with others? Recognize that and consider that there are differences in the ways you approach problems that could explain the conflict. One tip we teach in our training
  2. Have a 24 – hour rule. Attempt to resolve conflict within a 24-hour period. Committing to doing this task just may be the most meaningful thing you can do. Otherwise, the problem will fester, boiling under the surface until someone is bringing up a two-year grudge and a laundry list of issues. Obviously, if there are serious problems that are deeply rooted in long-term conflict, it may be necessary to seek counsel from others that have demonstrated trust in the past.
  3. Consult with Myers-Briggs. Some workplaces introduce personality profiles so co-workers can better understand each other. If you’re struggling with a workplace conflict, seek advice from those whose profiles are the complete opposite of yours. They are more likely to have a solution you have never even thought of.
  4. Finally, address workplace bullying. The Workplace Bullying Institute reported that about one fifth of all American workers reported bullying in the workplace and another 20% witnessed bullying in their workplace environment. Bullying and normal conflicts in the workplace are not the same. According to This Emotional Life, workplace bullying is different from constructive criticism or conflict. Bullying is persistent, it focuses on a person rather than a task, and the recipient feels powerless to stop it. Worst of all, employees who experience bullying find that it’s just as hard to explain and stop the abuse as it is to suffer through it.

Un-addressed bullying in the workplace has a tremendous impact on employees, those who are targeted and the witnesses, as well as obvious detriments to a positive workplace culture. Schools and social service organizations are not immune. Addressing workplace bullying helps employees experience safety and assurances that it will not be tolerated.


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