Working Dynamics



February 2006  


Welcome to the quarterly Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight what each of us can do to have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in our work lives.

Don't hesitate to pass along this e-newsletter! There is a link at the bottom of this page to make it simple. (We assure you that all of our email addresses are strictly confidential. Working Dynamics NEVER shares subscribers' information.)

Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

In this issue...

  • Me? Somebody Else's Hot Button?
  • Change Is a Constant
  • Tell It Like It Is
  • Employees are Mumbling and Grumbling. What Now?

Change is a Constant

Knowing that change is a regular part of everyday work life doesn't make it any easier. Before we enjoy improvements at the end of a change process, there are stresses along the way. Employees often feel the loss of what was familiar and stable as well as the loss of people they trusted who are no longer there. Worries about personal job security, feeling "out of the loop," resentment having to make changes and not know why, and anxiety over feeling unprepared to take on new roles and assignments are all real concerns. "Managing Change in the Workplace" from BUPA, a global health care association in the UK, offers tips for individuals and managers.

Tips for individuals

  1. Develop personal networks to check out information, seek moral support, and help spot future moves.
  2. Keep skills up to date — work skills as well as interpersonal flexibility, presentation and time management skills, and personal development.
  3. Manage your lifestyle to maintain fitness and positive beliefs about yourself.
  4. Embrace the fact that your career management is in your hands and have a plan. Define your expectations, regularly ask for feedback, and always have a contingency plan in place.
  5. Develop interpersonal flexibility. Learn how to seek support, confront problems directly and constructively, negotiate in your own behalf, generate enthusiasm and loyalty within your team, and cope effectively with people whole interpersonal skills are more restricted.

Tips for managers

  1. Give more recognition (so easy, so cheap, so overlooked).
  2. Develop people by giving not just adequate training, but also developmental training to show employees you value them.
  3. Develop teamwork through shared goals, vision, getting everyone's input.
  4. Communicate better by giving more information and giving it more frequently.
  5. Monitor work hours, don't encourage a long-hours culture, and ensure staff take their annual leave.

Read full article ...


Tell It Like It Is

clip artWe all know that honesty is the best policy in personal relationships. The same goes for professional relationships even when the recipient is a large team or even the entire organization. If the future looks grim, tell your staff what is going on. When the pressure is the greatest, don't withdraw and keep potential bad news to yourself. There probably are some details that can be released while you keep critical specifics confidential.

Your goal is to keep speculation to a minimum. If you can relay inevitabilities without being damaging, communicate them. You also can develop trust by involving your staff and giving them a measure of power over the situation. Feeling part of the solution builds the feelings of trust and respect everyone craves in relationships with employers.

Suggestions for communicating during turbulent times:

  • Begin by understanding concerns and what employees want to know.
  • Determine what can be communicated now and what has to wait.
  • Don't hold back information just because it might cause worry or be upsetting.
  • Detail how you plan to lead through the rough times ahead.
  • Get specific about how you intend to make the situation better and what support you'll give.

Ways to identify employee concerns ...


Employees are Membling and Grumbling. What now?

Morale is more than a people issue; it is a business issue. When morale is low, turnover increases, and unplanned turnover has a negative impact on both the manager's reputation and team efficiency. Quality goes down. Customers notice. There is a direct relationship between morale and business success.

What you can do about tumbling morale:

  • Listen for what is said and what isn’t. You need to know what your problem is before you try to solve it.
  • Be available to talk. The more information flowing back and forth between management and employees, the better!
  • Know what is important to employees. Talk informally with staff and use questionnaires and surveys to learn more.
  • Involve others. Employees can unlock the mysteries of low morale. Ask for suggestions. Morale will rise quickly when others believe you are interested in hearing their ideas and will try to implement suggestions where possible.
  • Be positive, use humor, and show that a brighter future is ahead. You lead the way in tone. Your emotional cues carry more weight than you would imagine. Keep any feelings of hopelessness to yourself. If you don't appear hopeful, why should anyone else?

Tend to morale issues early and contact us ...


Me? Somebody Else's Hot Button?

Hot Buttons are those irritations and annoyances that can provoke us into conflict. They are the situations or characteristics in others that aggravate and frustrate us, perhaps to the point where, despite knowing better, we instigate conflict. We are all fairly adept at identifying who pushes our buttons and how.

But what do we do to push other’s buttons? Here are some typical "button pushing behaviors":

  • Make comments that criticize others.
  • Speak in a way we regard as confident, but others may interpret as arrogant.
  • Use humor and jokes that include ridiculing or blaming someone else.
    Make extended attempts to win.
  • In managing details, get stuck in them and miss the “big picture.”
  • Use a conversation style that might be described as heavy on problems and light on solutions.
  • Lose temper and act in an angry, possibly aggressive, way.
  • Show impatience when others frustrate us.
  • Manage so many aspects of a project that others might call it micromanaging.
  • Miss deadlines that affect others.

Our behaviors determine how people treat us and how positively we are viewed as professionals in our organizations. Our actions could be the reason a colleague responds rudely to us, makes efforts to interact as little as possible with us, or seems to blow up for no apparent reason. Could it be? ARE WE A HOT BUTTON TO THEM?

Working Dynamics works with leaders and teams to develop professional behaviors and constructive responses to conflict.

Contact us ...

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