Conflict resolution with your leaders, managers and employees

  • “I thought this thing about leading and managing was going to be straight forward because it seemed easy for my boss – I just don’t want to deal with people. Why can’t I just run the business with the right people already hired?”
  • “I don’t know if I want to lead or manage people. They fight me all the way – some silently and some very loudly.”
  • “They just think that they deserve that raise… even though I never get the kind of work I need from them. Am I crazy or are they crazy?”
  • “I tried every single assessment system out there and none of them worked. I still have crazy, stupid, retarded people working for me – retards who came from the Land of Mordor.”
  • “What is wrong with them? I gave them everything they need – I never had half the stuff they have now when I first started working 20 years ago.”

I hear some variation of these statements from people I talk with weekly; clients, participants in my speaking engagements, cold consultation calls coming in to my office and very occasionally from myself.

My point is that it is disarmingly more common and normal than it should be – people who become leaders tend to think that once they have their systems and assessment systems in place, everything should work out hunky dory – free of troubles or problems – free of the unexpected and free of any challenges – an Employment Nirvana-Heaven of sorts.

Really?

I want to share in this article some distinctions that will help you create awareness. Awareness is the first step to true change – not B.S. change – but real change that makes a difference and is not based on some theories that may or may not work. Most people skip awareness – it is like skipping over waking up from a sleep or dream – the first step may be to get awakened to the realities.

The Truth will set you free…

A couple of things about the people who work for you whom you may have conflicts with:

  1. They think that they are as right as you are
  2. They may be as worried as you may be about being wrong in their judgments
  3. They may be as unwilling as you are to admit that they are wrong
  4. They may be as afraid of being embarrassed as you are
  5. They are as clueless as you allow them to be
  6. If they are unwilling to work, they should not be working for you
  7. If they complain that they don’t know and you are not providing the training, then who’s the responsible party?
  8. If they complain that they don’t know what they are doing and you are providing the training, then how long should you keep them on?
  9. If you hired them without setting clear expectations, then you are getting what you said (not said) what you wanted – the same applies to them i.e. if they failed to state expectations of you, then they deserve what they asked (did not ask) for from you.
  10. If you keep being upset about what they do, then are you seriously paying attention to the definition of insanity?
  11. There’s more to list – but I want to get to the good stuff.. because I know few of us can stand so much truth at once (myself included)

“The truth will set you free but first it will p*ss you off” – Gloria Steinem

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
Rumi

“Convert your business from a rigid North Korea or a chaotic Somalia into a flexible but mutually workable partnership based on vision and based on mutual respect.” – Sunil Bhaskaran

So what can you do?  Listen to the three wise people above.

Again, please bear in mind that this is a short article – the training required may take months or longer – but is typically worth it – especially when compared with the alternative.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Give up being right or wrong – focus on performance and the fulfillment of your mission statement; this may involve some practice
  2. Get clear on what you need specifically and measurably from them in terms of performance
  3. Get clear on what they need for themselves (independent of what you need)
  4. Get clear on what they need for themselves to produce what you need from them
  5. Get clear on your context or mission
  6. Select only the items that you need and they need based on whether it fulfills on your mission or context (this will help stay consistent and fair with the other employees)
  7. Be prepared to be held fully accountable on what they need from you that you promised (that you were willing to promise)
  8. Be prepared to hold them fully accountable for delivering on their promises to you
  9. Be prepared to step away from the relationship in an appropriate amount of time if the relationship with this employee is not working
  10. Be willing to taste the bitter taste of truth
  11. Be willing to be empathetic with the other regarding their distaste for the truth – they are just as human as you are
  12. Compare the time you may need to spend on this process vs. the time and energy wasted in the insane alternative: be decisive – about this fork in the road. If you choose the latter, be accepting of the long term suffering it inevitably brings along with it.

Is this complicated?

Of course it is.

But to think it would be simple and then ignore the complexity is as ridiculous as being resigned to hopeless employees who will never measure up, no matter what you do.

In service,

Sunil Bhaskaran

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