Month: February 2015

People generally dislike or avoid conflict. It makes them uncomfortable so ignoring escalating issues is an approach adopted by many. However, when addressed early and effectively it can help clear tensions, address underlying issues and lead to innovation. So what are the signs of conflict and what causes conflict to escalate?

1. Dismissing Concerns

When employees raise an issue more than once it is clear the issue is of importance or the issue hasn’t been adequately addressed. Brushing the employee off with a comment such as “we discussed this already so let’s move on” is unsatisfactory. The person needs to fully understand the rationale behind the approach being taken and time needs to be given to discussing it. Once discussed and explored a statement closing the issue needs to be made e.g. “Now that we’ve explored this issue and understand what we have now agreed to do, we need to move to implementing our decision.”

2. Undermining Decisions

Teams need to agree the decision-making process and adhere to it. If an individual doesn’t adhere to the process then the decision is undermined and is more likely to result in conflict. Watch for signs that decisions are being undermined. Remind your team of the decision making process and the importance of sticking to that process.

3. Interpersonal Conflict

Requests for change in working habits or working teams is often an indication that an issue exists. Perhaps it’s nothing and the reasons behind the request are personal. Great. Now you can address it. However, it may be more. It may be that there is an issue between individuals within the team. If left unaddressed this will generally escalate and could possibly result in the individual claiming bullying exists. Keep the lines of communication open and make sure you regularly check in with employees that all is going well. Caught early there are many options available to you for addressing the issue. Left too long and your limited options may narrow to the least favoured one: litigation.

Tricia Cunningham is a partner and business advisor at LEAP.


Visualise Your Company Success Story

In a new management training series business advisor John Raftery discusses Visual Management, a business methodology that has worked wonders for management teams within large corporate organisations. Here he explains how you can visualise your company’s success story and why this visual approach is more successful than traditional methods, and how small and medium businesses can benefit from the ‘display and engage’ approach.

What is Visual Management?

I work a lot with clients in the SME sector and often when I go into their offices or business premises I see little by way of business related posters, graphs, bulletin boards, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) or business charts around the building. But if you walk into a multinational corporation’s building that’s exactly what you find.

Every type of visual mechanism is being used to try and get the message across to the workforce about what the company represents, how it’s performing and what it’s key goals are and what it’s key performance indicators are on a daily basis. So really visual management is about trying to take that culture from the multinational organisations and try to bring it into the SME sector.

Why is visual management better than traditional methods?

Why is visual management better, or an improvement on, the way companies currently work? The answer is simple; the thing is that for the vast majority of companies I work with the key information is being kept in people’s heads, or stored on spreadsheets on their laptops. Everybody in the organisation then assumes that everyone else knows what’s going on, but in actual fact a lot of that key business information remains hidden away and largely ignored.

Visual management is about trying to extract the most important facets of that business information and make it visual. In other words to display the most vital information on a noticeboard or Gantt chart, or to represent KPIs through the use of bar graphs. You get the information out there and this helps engage people more in the business process.

Management Engagement

It distils the information into communicative, more consumable pieces for management team members and team leaders to track, understand and act upon. Remember one of the most important things about trying to communicate with people; people remember what they see and engage with, they recall very little of what they hear. If teams are fully engaged with the company’s goals and vision they come to understand it and that has a powerful effect.