Support through your toughest HR challenges: A network of 285,000 HR professionals.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Q: My boss has asked me to figure out how to get employees in one of our departments to get along better. Any suggestions?
A: Managers typically find themselves in situations of employee misunderstandings or conflicts. HR and business leaders are in positions to create knowledge, understanding and awareness for employees who are not getting along.
Personality clashes, disputes and inappropriate behaviors are signs of people not getting along in the workplace. Early-stage misunderstandings often can be identified quickly by observing employees’ attitudes and body language. Human resource professionals might need to apply specialized coaching skills in these situations, serving as an internal coach.
What should managers consider when focusing on maintaining a positive, constructive work environment? Depending on the situation, a three-step strategy of questioning, active listening and understanding style differences helps managers implement the right course of action.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Asking the right questions serves to move understanding forward and guides personal discovery. A range of unique questions becomes a tool to find truth or meaning regarding a situation or individual beliefs that might be fueling employee disagreements. Asking skillful questions that evoke discovery, insight or new actions enables employees to take ownership of the situation, helping them to learn new behaviors that can foster more-amicable workplace relationships.
What are you hearing as you demonstrate strong listening skills? Your agenda might guide you as you ascertain specific information. Intuition and knowledge also serve to guide the line of questioning. Style, timing of questions and variety of questions also serve to coach the employee.
Active Listening Key to Understanding Problem Issues
Active listening is challenging and very different from asking questions. In active listening, HR and involved managers are genuinely interested in understanding what employees think, feel or want or what their message means; they are active in checking out their understanding of the situation before responding with their own “new” message.
Active listening requires that HR and managers restate or paraphrase their understanding of the messages they receive and reflect them back to the employees for verification. This verification or feedback process is what distinguishes active listening and makes it effective. HR professionals’ and managers’ self-awareness might influence their decisions and listening abilities if they are placed in a new situation or one of apparent discomfort.
The distinct observable behaviors that two employees demonstrate when they do not get along can be described using a universal behavioral style language. When two employees do not get along, one might demonstrate a dominant behavior style—perhaps forceful, direct and results-oriented. Another might use words that are precise, accurate and detail-oriented as others listen to their careful choice of language to describe their disputes.
Managers are in a key position to influence work relationships and set the tone for a positive environment. The response they choose along with appropriate solutions or measures after a thorough determination of facts and understanding enables employees to get along better, and perhaps acquire skills to resolve their differences and disputes in the future.
John T. Mooney, SPHR, ACC, is the organizational effectiveness manager for Irving, Texas-based Abbott Diagnostics. Mooneyalso is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Organizational Development Special Expertise Panel.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Top Trends Impacting Workplace Learning in 2018
SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies