Ed and Sally have a problem. As their manager, you have the right to impose a solution, but past experience tells you that employees will come up with their own solution if you allow them to work it out with a little mediation assistance from you. Before you tackle the Ed/Sally problem, review these steps for maintaining objectivity.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BIASES AND PUT THEM ASIDE. Don’t bring your own baggage into dispute resolution.
2. APPROACH CONFLICT RESOLUTION WITH AS LITTLE INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE. Do not investigate beforehand. You aren’t a detective, and playing Sherlock Holmes is a waste of time at this point. Remember, this is Sally and Ed’s problem, and they have all the information you need.
3. STEP OUT OF THE BOSS/SUPERVISOR/MANAGER ROLE. Resist the power trip. Sally and Ed won’t talk openly, brainstorm, or negotiate if you take an authority position.
4. ACTIVELY SEEK TO BALANCE POWER BETWEEN PARTICIPANTS. While Sally and Ed are peers on the organizational chart, you know Sally’s assertiveness frightens Ed. If Sally’s verbal skills dominate, you can help Ed find equal time. Establish guidelines, which allow each disputant a turn. Then, when you see Ed getting lost in Sally’s dust, tactfully remind her that it’s Ed’s turn to speak.
5. REMEMBER THAT YOUR OPINION IS NOT THE ISSUE. As you listen to Ed and Sally, you form opinions. And you may be tempted to interject them. It’s OK to provide reality checks for the disputants, but it’s rarely appropriate to state an opinion.
6. REFRAIN FROM IMPOSING SOLUTIONS ON THE DISPUTANTS. Exercise patience. Let them come up with their own agreement. Don’t fall into the judge, arbitrator, parent, or social worker snare. You have the right to demand resolution to employee disputes, and sometimes you must make arbitrary decisions for the organization’s benefit. But before you take that step, remember that the results of mediation are often more effective than managerial edicts. Try it!
Finally, don’t forget to review Ed and Sally’s MindData evaluations. Knowing the real character of each personality may help you retain an unbiased and realistic view.
For more information concerning how a PEO can assist you with addressing your employee administration exposures and needs, please contact an LLRG PEO Consultant (toll free) at 877.878.6463. The LL Roberts proudly uses MindData Job Candidate Evaluation tools. For more info on MindaData, visit www.MindData.com.