Working Dynamics



September 2005 


Welcome to our third quarter edition of the Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal with each issue is to highlight what all of us can do to have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in our work lives. Let us know how we're doing.

Please pass along this e-newsletter. Just send the URL of this page to those with whom you'd like to share. (All of our email addresses are strictly confidential. Working Dynamics NEVER shares subscribers' information.)

Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

In this issue...

  • Professional Development for Better Results
  • Generation Gaps: Bridging the Divide
  • How to Give Bad News and Do It Well
  • Results of the Conflict in the Workplace Poll

Generation Gaps: Bridging the Divide

Four generations work side-by-side in today's workplace. Look around. Even if your immediate workplace is relatively homogeneous in age, you constantly speak to people whose perspectives toward life and work are very different from yours due in large part to when they were born. They are your clients, vendors, customers, and colleagues in other departments and organizations.

The generation gap shows up frequently in attitudes toward work and technology. These different perspectives can collide with each other resulting in tensions, communication breakdowns, feelings of disrespect, and misunderstandings. Obviously, awareness and understanding of cross-generational differences can result in a much richer experience (and that is the desired outcome).

The next time you find yourself scratching your head over the work habits of a colleague, stop and consider whether generational factors are at play. You can head off tensions and misunderstandings at work when you understand, and appreciate, what makes your colleagues look at things differently from you. The Mayo Clinic article "Workplace Generation Gap: Understand differences among colleagues." offers strategies for working with other generations.



How to Give Bad News and Do It Well

clip art Having to give bad news is one of the least favorite parts of everyone's job. If you are the boss, you might have to tell your team that the budget has been cut and you have to reduce staff. As a team member, you might have to tell your team leader that the project deadline may have to be extended because you couldn't get your part done. No one is exempt from having to relay bad news. Postponing rarely helps. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. Prepare by thinking about the emotions involved. How might this news be received? Prepare yourself for the emotions you might face.
  2. Plan when you will speak to the person(s).
  3. Develop what you'll say getting to the point quickly. Don't beat about the bush.
  4. Practice what you've planned to say. You don't want to sound stiff or rehearsed, but you also don't want to ramble.
  5. Stick to your plan; be observant as you follow through. Watch for reactions, both verbal and non-verbal. Be sensitive. Ask if there are any questions and give the time needed to answer them.

You want your news to come from you — not from someone else. Preparation, practice, then following through are ways you can deliver sensitive information effectively and on time.

Look at some examples of good phrasing ...


Results of the Conflict in the Workplace Poll

We have results from the May Working Dynamics Conflict in the Workplace Poll and results from a larger sample (nearly 400 respondents) conducted in 2003 by the Center for Creative Leadership. Our survey questions were intentionally the same so that we could better compare our findings with CCL's. Results from both surveys follow.

Summary of results: The responses in both surveys indicate that we are all impacted by conflict, and the ability to manage it well is an important aspect of our effectiveness and confidence as leaders. The majority of respondents (87%) rated conflict management skills as important or very important in their job. The perceived importance of conflict management skills did not vary much with position, but the data suggests that these skills are most critical to middle and first-level managers who must manage conflict with bosses, peers and direct reports. Responses to poll questions are below.

How often do you face conflict on the job? In the Working Dynamics poll, 70% reported they "sometimes” to “frequently” face conflict on the job. Similarly, the majority of respondents in the CCL Poll reported moderate levels of conflict on the job.

How important are conflict management skills in your job? The vast majority from all organizational levels in both polls agreed that conflict management skills are important or very important. As would be expected, groups that experience greater conflict see conflict management skills as more important.

How successful are you in resolving conflict in your current job? In both polls, the majority of respondents acknowledged that there is room to improve their conflict management skills. Individuals at higher levels of the organization reported greater success in resolving conflict, while first-level managers reported the greatest degree of difficulty in this regard.

With whom is conflict at work most difficult? Again, both polls yielded similar results. Poll participants said they experience the most conflict with peers and the least with direct reports. There were not major gender differences in responses. However, women reported slightly less conflict with peers and slightly more conflict with bosses.

What is your level in your organization? In the CCL Poll, slightly more than half of all respondents to the poll were from upper-middle management or more senior position (41% male and 59% female). In the Working Dynamics Poll, respondents categorized themselves as “top management” or “other” (80% female and 20% male).

Thank you. We appreciate all who participated in the Working Dynamics Poll and to the Center for Creative Leadership for their poll results. For more information on CCL's 2003 Poll, go to (search for the February 2003 Leading Effectively newsletter) and read Talula Cartwright's review of their findings. CCL conducted another survey on conflict a few months ago. Click below to view that research.

Most recent CCL poll data...


Conflict Management: Remove Roadblocks to Success

Working Dynamics provides conflict management services for organizations. Specific services include:

  • team consulting
  • training
  • mediation
  • employee surveys
  • conflict dynamics assessment and development programs

For more information, contact Susan Gunn at 804-353-9527 or

Consultations are confidential and free ...

Professional Development for Better Results

Teams that just get the job done and employees who meet expectations aren't positioning themselves well. For a team to take advantage of all of the available talent, ingenuity, and energy, the team has to know how to work together and needs to know how to perform their roles at a high level. As many of your know, Jada Banks offers professional development training for Working Dynamics and can plan a session for you. Could your team use a half-day or day dedicated to refocusing and regrouping? Are there new skills and behaviors that would make your team more successful?

To reach the outcomes you want, on-going professional development is essential. Below are a few topic areas Working Dynamics can bring to your team:

  • goal setting
  • personality differences in the workplace
  • emotional intelligence
  • problem solving and decision making
  • feedback to peers, boss, and direct reports
  • meeting leadership and facilitation
  • conflict management
  • leadership
  • performance management
  • supervision
  • team effectiveness
  • communication

Our specialty is effective communication, strong work relationships, and constructive conflict management in the workplace. If we haven't listed what you (or your team) need/s most, we'll be happy to develop a special session for you or we'll recommend someone who is an expert in that area. Contact Susan Gunn at 804-353-9527 or We look forward to working with you!

Call or email to explore further ...

Links we hope will be useful:


Join our mailing list!

     voice: (804) 353-9527