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Dealing with the Five Causes of Professional Jealousy

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Successful leaders learn to work with their subordinates to achieve mutual goals and objectives. However, in any organization there will be individuals who are jealous of the success attained by their leader. This jealousy often stems from their fear of personal failure. Leaders must recognize the threat these employees pose not only to the leader’s career, but also to the overall performance of the organization.

Jealousy in any form is not healthy: it is highly detrimental to the organization’s success. Jealous individuals are not team-oriented, as they are only concerned with their personal needs. The presence of such employees is counterproductive to leadership’s attempts to focus on the needs of all and accomplish mutual goals.

It is important for leaders to recognize the existence of professional jealousy and its impact on the success of the organization. Leaders cannot simply ignore individuals that harbor jealousy; they must work with each jealous employee to correct behaviors and to address and resolve the underlying problem.

There are many causes of professional jealousy. The most common are examined below, with techniques suggested for resolving each problem.

Status Quo

Some individuals resist change for a variety of reasons. In most cases, they become jealous as their power base is threatened by a transition in management styles, or they fear being subsequently exposed as incompetent.

Leaders must sit down with these individuals and have a frank discussion to get them to disclose the reasons behind their jealousy and resistance to change. To help resolve the situation, leaders should stress the extreme importance of teamwork in the accomplishment of mutual goals and objectives, with change being part of the equation. If individuals refuse to change, their behavior will become increasingly obvious as the organization moves forward. Ultimately, they will be compelled to change or forced to leave the organization. So, before the process plays out, leaders can personally help struggling employees achieve their personal goals by offering suggestions to allay any major concerns that are responsible for their jealousy.

Credit

Some people become jealous when others receive credit for their accomplishment. In such instances, the jealous individual often engages in immature and damaging behavior.

Quality leaders aren’t concerned with others getting the credit for a job well done. In correspondence with superiors, a leader will usually give all credit to his or her team. Leaders should, however, make it a point to bolster the success of other managers. This technique works to reduce some feelings of inadequacy that lead to jealousy.

While it is often difficult to deal with immature individuals, leaders must invest the time to discuss any concerns and then attempt to broker an agreement to resolve pressing issues. If these individuals remain irrational, their behaviors will eventually expose their lack of leadership qualities.

Resources

Some managers can be jealous of another manager’s success because they fear the successful manager will be apportioned a higher amount of limited corporate resources, such as staff, funds and materials.

Leaders should talk with these individuals and work something out. A successful resolution of this issue will increase their department’s performance, which in turn will benefit the organization as a whole.

Advancement

Some managers are jealous of successful associates. They fear that they will be left behind as their successful coworkers are afforded additional opportunities for advancement.

In a competitive marketplace, these jealous individuals can be dangerous. Leaders should be willing to “go to bat” for another manager in front of senior management to highlight his or her accomplishments and contributions. This often diminishes personal animosity and jealousy between managers.

Personal Agenda

Individuals can have a variety of personal agendas that will make them jealous of a successful leader. But there is no room for personal agendas in an organization transitioning into a leadership environment. As the organization changes its culture, individuals that lack a team spirit will be exposed and thus compelled to either abandon their personal agendas or vacate their position. Effective leaders will attempt to identify the root causes of these personal agendas and discuss them openly with these individuals to resolve them.

If you are seeking proven expertise and best practices of dealing with negative employee attitudes and behaviors to train or educate your employees to solve problems and improve their performance in this area, refer to Negative Employee Attitudes: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series.Click here to learn more.

Related:

Conflict is Inevitable With Persistent Resistance to Change

Do Institutionalized Management Practices Create Formidable Obstacles to Change?

Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Conflict is Inevitable With Persistent Resistance to Change

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Resistance is experienced in most teams as they struggle with the concept of change. The purpose of creating teams is to tackle difficult issues and tough organizational problems. Invariably, the resulting solutions teams develop result in active transformations that disrupt the status quo and personal agendas, which also tends to remove personal positions of power. Consequently, there is a natural tendency for individual team members to resist pending changes.

The main challenge in leading teams is to allow the full complexity of individual personalities, talents, qualities and insights to emerge. These must be actively harnessed in order to achieve major team objectives.

While it is easy to set limits on verbal expressions and behaviors, doing so severely diminishes overall team potential and performance. Since various personality traits of individual members actively shape their general and immediate focus and perspectives, leaders who understand them are able to estimate their direct responses to change. Ultimately, with this related knowledge and understanding, they should be able to anticipate and minimize overall team member resistance. And they should be able to demonstrate that resistance results from differing perspectives that can be reconciled with the objectives of the entire team.

Resistance is an instinctive and energetic opposition to new ideas or someone’s expressed wishes to do something differently. If individual team members persist in their resistance, conflict becomes inevitable. Often resistance is framed as a struggle for control or as a problem that has been eliminated. The lines of conflict are often quickly drawn. Therefore, it is important for leaders to understand the concepts of resistance and conflict within their team environments and to learn how to harness and control them.

Avoidance of Conflict

Conflict should not be seen as something to be resolved, but as an experience to be explored. Opposing views in regard to team direction and change are never totally unrelated and can have great value when considered “different parts of the same story.” Leaders will often find that resistance and conflict are consistently initiated by many of the same individuals on their teams as a result of their inherent personality traits.

Avoidance of conflict either drains interest, enthusiasm and trust or results in concealed tension, internal fighting and impaired team performance. While some leaders meet resistance head on, others often do everything possible to avoid the attached conflicts. Rather than keep conflicts from erupting, avoidance causes increasing internal team resistance. It is extremely important to keep in mind that appeasement in order to diminish conflict is not effective, and instead creates a host of additional challenges to overcome.

Denial of Conflict

When leaders propose change and team members feign agreement, the actual degree of resistance can be immense. This often occurs when teams have strong norms, where dissention and negative views are rarely tolerated and expressed. The core of resistance lies with a particular side of the team or with individual leaders that no one is fully prepared to address or discuss.

While the denial of conflict might be considered a normal process within many team environments, it more often than not builds to the point of erupting into a far more serious problem. Therefore, when active resistance is initially encountered, leaders must ensure that conflicts within their team environments are not denied, but adequately addressed and worked through.

Anxiety

Avoidance and denial of conflict are rooted in personal anxiety. Oftentimes, members can be intimidated by their team environments, their lack of seniority and/or experience, or their own inherent personalities. The concept of change also frightens many people due to associated fears of the unknown and feelings about how change will personally and directly affect them.

It is important for leaders to recognize these factors and the subsequent anxieties that may be created within their team environments. These factors need to be identified and openly and fully discussed. Leaders must address the consequences of allowing anxieties to take root in order to diminish individual fear factors that tend to create undue apprehension, nervousness or panic. Once these issues are addressed and individuals fully understand the root causes and the impact these factors have on their team, personal anxieties will dissolve. When this is accomplished, individual stress levels are reduced.

Addressing the Concept of Change

In team environments there will always be members who desire change and members who wish to keep the status quo. Both of these positions give insight into what members perceive to be the true needs of their team. To ensure that insights are not lost, leaders need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is currently happening to and within the team?
  • What force for change is directly impacting the team?
  • Within the team, what counterbalancing forces seek to minimize change?

When leaders are able to identify these factors, both positions are respected, and those who resist change can be viewed as the guardians of the team’s traditional norms and beliefs.

Viewing Resistance as a Strength

Rather than something that must be actively overcome, leaders should be aware that resistance deserves respect for its ability to help teams discover how to change. Since resistance is characterized as a mobilization of energy, leaders must learn how to channel it in positive ways. Resistance should be viewed as a healthy and creative force that can be applied to effectively meet individual challenges. It can be used to frame problems and issues in new ways that all individual team members can appreciate and respect. The team process can be used to work through complex issues, tackle difficult problems and their attached implications and ramifications, and arrive at a consensus in regard to the most workable, practical and effective solutions.

Related:

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

When the Process of Change Spins Out of Control

Conflict Turns Decision Making Upside Down

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations

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Within many workplace environments, leaders will find themselves in the role of team facilitator. In this capacity, leaders must direct and control team meetings and discussions in order to allow for the free-flow of ideas by all members of the team.

Within the team environment, leaders are dealing with a group of individuals who each has a personal agenda, bias and perspective. In many circumstances, leaders can effectively mold these individuals into a working team. In others, one or more members can stoutly resist the work of the team. These members may not agree with the purpose of the team or feel it threatens their personal position. Unfortunately, these individuals can be disruptive enough to prevent the team from functioning, frustrating leaders and members alike.

Leaders should understand that when individuals are given the opportunity to openly participate and make their views known, some will actively work against the leader and the progress of the team. As these individuals can be devious or openly hostile, it is essential that leaders recognize their behaviors for what they are. Once done there are specific actions leaders can take to handle these individuals or motivate the team to police themselves.

Due to the nature of group dynamics, leaders should anticipate and be prepared for the fact that an individual’s behavior might occasionally disrupt team discussions.

Anticipate and Prevent

When individuals organize into effective teams, most problems can be anticipated and prevented. This happens as members spend time getting to know each other, establishing ground rules and agreeing to norms of group behavior.

Group Problem

Many problems arise because individual team members allow or even encourage them in some manner. Leaders should examine each problem in light of what the team allows and encourages, and what it can do to facilitate more constructive behavior.

Control Reactions

Teams can exhibit a variety of behaviors: some minor occurrences that don’t inhibit team discussion and progress, others highly disruptive and even chronic.

Leaders must respond appropriately to the seriousness of the problem, ignoring fleeting disruptions while directly confronting chronic or seriously disruptive behaviors. Experienced leaders as facilitators develop a range of responses to typical problems.

Non-Intervention

There are times when leaders need not intervene, as individual team members will handle the offending behavior themselves. In this case leaders should be available to guide and direct discussions provoked when one member confronts another.

Minimal Intervention

Leaders can discuss the problem or situation outside of the group environment with disruptive team members. Constructive feedback should be given and solutions agreed to.

Impersonal Group Time

Leaders can discuss the problem with the entire team prior to their meeting in order to focus their attention on how they encourage the problem and what they can do differently to discourage it. The problem should be treated as a team issue, with discussions of personalities and personality issues avoided

Personal Confrontation

When other attempts have failed to rectify the offending behaviors in the team setting, leaders must become more assertive with the responsible parties. Direct action can be taken by the leader to remedy the situation.

Group Intervention

As a last resort and when all other approaches have failed, leaders may need to deal with offending behaviors in the presence of the team. In such an instance they expose the member(s) responsible for the offending behaviors to the open critique of the team.

This technique must be used sparingly, with leaders anticipating reactions and responses in order to minimize the hostility and defensiveness of offending team members.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Six Critical Issues To Consider When Solving Problems

Seven Proactive Steps to Take to Deal With a Problem Employee

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Handling Workplace Complaints, Concerns and Issues

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Leaders in the workplace hear several complaints every day. Some are minor and easily resolved; others are more complex, requiring complicated solutions. Leaders should have a specific procedure or decision tree set up to guide them through the resolution process fairly and consistently.

Decision trees come in different varieties, some more suited to particular issues than others. One type can be quite logical, providing the leader with a rather intuitive model to follow for simple problems. Difficult problems, on the other hand, require more complex models that give leaders the more intricate guidance they require.

Unresolved complaints are symptomatic of underlying issues in the workplace. When left unsettled, these issues fester and ultimately surface as major problems that can impact productivity, efficiency and performance, as well as expose an organization to legal liabilities. Leaders must always strive to resolve a problem; otherwise, employees who continually complain about the same issue yet don’t see action being taken likely have legal recourse. Even a seemingly minor issue can have potential legal ramifications that make the company liable for failing to address the complaint.

Effective leaders understand the importance of immediately addressing and resolving complaints. They know that lingering issues hinder the performance of their organizational unit by disrupting the harmony and balance required to maximize output. Additionally, the time invested in “nipping a problem in the bud” is well spent when compared with the time required to deal with a complaint that has exploded into a major problem. Good leaders furthermore understand that a quick and effective response to a complaint limits the company’s legal liability.

Undoubtedly, leaders are well-versed in dealing with daily operational problems (e.g. production, quality, scheduling and efficiency) associated with the organizational unit’s performance. And while it is possible these methods are effective at resolving related employee complaints, they are not the focus of this lesson. For present purposes, complaints will be limited to general workplace issues such as intimidation, harassment, bullying and other employee-related concerns.

When a complaint is initially brought to the leader’s attention, he or she will most likely immediately classify it as a problem that is either major or minor. This tendency is natural, as quick classification leaves the leader with the necessary time and energy to identify and resolve the problem.

However, leaders must take care not to minimize a complaint. They need to recognize that it takes courage for an employee to voice a concern. In fact, before the complaint is made, quite often the issue has been going on for a sustained period, with the employee making many failed attempts at resolving it. Hence, it is important that the leader carefully consider the complaint’s seriousness. Even if the individual tends to complain or whine about everything, each grievance should be examined on its own merits. If, after thoughtful consideration, the leader finds there isn’t much to the complaint, then it may be dismissed. But a repeat pattern of similar complaints may require further action on the part of the leader. On the other hand, some employees rarely complain, and when they do the problem may be more serious than it initially appears.

Once the legitimacy of a complaint has been established, several steps must be taken. A decision tree, as outlined below, guides the leader to the ultimate solution.

Preliminary Investigation

A preliminary investigation identifies underlying causes, the individuals involved and impacted, and the extent of the problem. When the problems causing the complaint are rooted out early, potential solutions can also be identified right away. If this is the case, leaders can act quickly to resolve the problem and move on to more pressing issues. If not, leaders must move on to the next step.

Documentation

If the problem is bigger or more advanced than originally thought, then leaders must begin to document its extent—that is, the activities of the individuals causing the problem, and the complaints and actions of the employees affected by the problem.

Effective leaders understand the importance of documenting the problem: the process helps develop objective facts necessary for a satisfactory resolution and protects the company if the termination of employees is required.

Interview All Participants

An initial investigation of a complaint and a documentation of the facts should include personal interviews with everyone involved in the issue. This gives all parties ample opportunity to express their viewpoints. Leaders must take care to stick with the facts and not be biased by previous experiences with anybody or let their personal feelings impact their decisions.

Pinpoint the Causes and Solution

After interviewing all participants and listening carefully to what they had to say, leaders should be able to pinpoint the underlying causes of the problem. Sometimes the issue to be dealt with is obvious; in which case, immediate action is advised.

In more serious cases, leaders may need to consult with their superiors or the human resources professionals in their company to determine further action or attain recommendations. When issues of legal liability are involved in the solution, leaders must seek counsel from others more familiar with the issues. Effective leaders understand the limits of their responsibilities and the importance of calling on others with more expertise. When in doubt, it is best to call human resources to get their view on possible courses of action.

Implement the Solution

Depending upon the seriousness of the problem and who is involved in crafting and implementing the solution, leaders must take action as soon as possible. Clearly, the solution can take many forms and have a variety of actions. As a result, leaders will often have to sit down with the people affected, either individually or together as a group.

In these sessions the problem will be plainly laid out, the findings and extent of the problem will be reported, and a discussion of the possible solutions initiated. In certain cases where the problem is very serious, solutions can be presented without options, leaving the people who are causing the problem with clear instructions to cease their behaviors or face specific consequences. In other cases, the parties will discuss and agree upon a solution.

Once again, leaders aren’t doing this alone: they are guided by the seriousness of the problem, instructions from their superiors, and the legal liabilities and ramifications if the issue is not resolved. Each area offers unique guidance that, along with understanding the particular circumstances surrounding the problem, will help leaders identify the final resolution and the actions they need to take.

Monitor the Solution

After a solution has been implemented, leaders should actively monitor the solution and periodically interview the employees affected to assure their satisfaction with the outcome. The leader’s central purpose here is to ensure that the problem is completely resolved. If unresolved, then further action must be taken. Consequences may need to be revisited and more drastic action may be called for.

Leaders must understand that every complaint and problem is unique. Dealing with workplace issues means working with complex human behaviors that often have no simple or straightforward solutions. While some solutions are mandated by company policies or management direction, others require the leader’s persistent application of logic until the problem is completely solved.

Excerpt: Negative Employee Attitudes: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Related:

Five Critical Steps to Maximize Performance

Execution: Six Action Steps

Performance Plans Create Results and Maximizes Performance

Objectives Allow Managers to Focus on Obtaining Results

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Five Reasons Why Team Communications Can Deteriorate

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Since leaders are dealing with individual personalities in the team environment, it is unrealistic to expect that communication will never break down. Even within the most effective and efficient team environment, issues and situations will arise that will cause an entire breakdown of team communication.

The breakdown of communication in the team environment often occurs when trust and respect are diminished or ignored by individual team members. Breakdowns also occur when chronic conflict has not been resolved within the team.

Another source of communication breakdown is when team members feel their personal interests are stronger than the needs and identity of the team. These individuals are motivated by their personal desires and will do anything to achieve them, including disrupting the team environment.

It is important for leaders to recognize that communication breakdowns will occur within the team environment. In the early stages of team growth, communication problems and breakdowns are more frequent, as individuals struggle to obtain position and retain power in a new and changing environment. However, in more mature and structured teams, leaders will find that the team itself will deal with the communication problem according to its defined boundaries, rules and standards.

Leaders should be aware that a breakdown in communication can have long-term ramifications on the structure and effectiveness of the team. Therefore, it is important for them to recognize potential problems and the symptoms in order to anticipate issues, such as those discussed below, before they occur.

Loss of Trust and Respect

If leaders allow problems to fester and lead to a breakdown of team communication, they will experience a corresponding breakdown of trust and respect among team members that can be difficult, if not impossible, to restore. These circumstances can be fatal to the team and might require the formation of a new team in order to overcome them. Broken trust requires prolonged periods of time to be reestablished. Leaders need to be aware of this and take appropriate action to reduce the occurrence of chronic problems that can result in the loss of trust and respect among team members.

Hindered Free-Flow of Ideas

Once communication has broken down among team members, leaders will observe that discussions become more emotional and subjective rather than objective and factual. When discussions are based on emotion rather than fact, brainstorming will diminish to the point that there is no free-flow of ideas among team members. This effectively halts the team process until the issues causing the breakdowns are dealt with.

Intimidation

Leaders who experience a breakdown of communication observe that certain members will attempt to take control of the team process, subjugating the team to their personal agendas and perspectives. Once done, these individuals will use emotional responses to intimidate other team members into accepting their points of view. This is where the bonds of trust and respect among team members can be broken. The communication breakdown destroys the team structure and subjects it to the will of one or more members.

Bias

Once the breakdown of communication has led to the destruction of the team order by one or more team members, a specific bias is created that supports the personal agendas of these individuals. When members allow the team process to be subverted by particular individuals, they undermine the entire team effort.

Faulty Decision Making

The breakdown of communication in the team environment inevitably leads to faulty decision making. Specific biases that hinder the free-flow of ideas prevent teams from considering all options and alternatives when making decisions. Consequently, decisions are impacted by the biases of the specific individuals controlling the team. In these circumstances, decision making and outcomes will be flawed.

Individuals who have hijacked the team process will use the team environment as a cover to mask their activities when decisions produce faulty results. As they do not want to be held accountable for their behaviors and actions, they will place blame for the decision on the team environment.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:
 
How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a TeamThe Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Seven Negative Roles and Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

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Along with the existence of positive and constructive team roles, negative and destructive agendas can emerge that undermine the ability of individual teams to function and perform adequately.

Negative and destructive roles emerge for a variety of reasons, including personal agendas, resistance to change, immaturity, and lack of motivation and/or team leadership and management.

One of a leader’s major roles is to observe individual team members and watch for destructive and negative behaviors. When problems surface, they need to encourage the team to collectively recognize and handle them within the team environment. If this fails, it is up to leaders to take specific action with the offending individual(s).

Leaders need to be watchful for the following negative roles and behaviors within their individual teams:

Aggressor

The aggressor criticizes everything said within the team environment, and is in effect an active naysayer. He or she has the ability to block the introduction of new ideas and concepts by minimizing and deflating the status of other team members and creating a sense of intimidation. If this behavior and role is not checked it will tend to decrease the team’s overall motivation and subsequent member involvement.

Blocker

The blocker is a dominant personality who automatically rejects the views and perspectives of others out of hand. This individual blocks the team’s ability to brainstorm and discuss the merits of new concepts and ideas raised. Like the aggressor, this individual can be highly detrimental to the team effort as he or she intimidates individual members, limits their participation and decreases overall team motivation and involvement.

Withdrawer

The withdrawer holds back his or her personal participation and refuses to become active within the team environment. This individual focuses the team on his or her immature behavior and attempts to resolve the conflict and unrest it creates, which effectively limits the team’s ability to make progress on problems and assigned projects.

Recognition Seeker

The recognition seeker looks for personal attention and in so doing monopolizes the discussion by continually asserting his or her personal ideas, suggestions and viewpoints. The recognition seeker is also attempting to win the team over to his or her ideas and opinions. Unfortunately, this behavior minimizes other individual team members input, which hampers overall team participation, involvement and motivation.

Topic Jumper

A topic jumper is unable to explore any specific topic in depth. He or she displays a short attention span and continually interrupts group discussions by attempting to change the subject. These continual interruptions diminish overall productivity by keeping team meetings off-focus.

Dominator

The dominator displays threatening and bullying behavior within the team setting. This individual uses intimidating and minimizing behavior in an attempt to take over the team and control all discussions. The dominator will typically “hijack” the team by coercing it to pursue his or her personal agenda.

Devil’s Advocate

While the devil’s advocate in the sense of introducing different viewpoints into the team discussion is a positive team function, it can become a negative role when used to block team progress or consensus. In this regard, the devil’s advocate is simply a naysayer that refuses to allow the team to move forward.

Excerpt: Building Team Roles & Direction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

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Conflict in the workplace is often created when somebody wants to make a change another party does not agree with. Often it only takes one to create controversy. This person draws others—who many times in order to maintain the relationship have no option—into the vortex. Since this can lead to these people then terminating their employment with the company, the conflict must be resolved.

The role of the leader includes mediating conflicts between employees. Many leaders not confident in their ability to resolve stressful conflict may seek to overlook, minimize, or avoid it altogether, allowing it to fester and grow through backbiting and constant complaining that saps the productivity of the organizational unit.

In some cases, unresolved conflict may mushroom into a legal issue with one or more parties using attorneys to resolve the problem. This often has wide-ranging ramifications for both the company and the involved leader.

It is important for leaders to understand that conflict and disagreements are part of the workplace environment and that it is in everyone’s best interest to develop the skills to resolve these disputes quickly and equitably. Effective leaders learn to watch for any potential conflicts and quickly address the pertinent issues before they explode into a bigger problem. Conflicts and disputes are best addressed early on before they become more complex and difficult to handle.

“Conflict” is used to describe numerous situations that are not in fact conflicts, but problems of indecision and personal stress. Conditions induce workers whose jobs are interdependent to feel angry and perceive others as being at fault. These situations and reactions constitute a business problem that must be resolved.

What Causes Conflict

There are seven types of conflicts. The leader who can develop a clear understanding of the issues greatly reduces the likelihood of mismatching problems and solutions.

Leaders should understand that most conflicts are complex and can include several elements of different issues. Leaders must carefully observe to determine the actual issues involved in order to match causes with solutions.

Data

Data conflicts arise over facts, figures and statistics and will have their solutions in obtaining new data or verifying and clarifying existing data.

Personality

Where there are people there will be personality conflicts. While in general a person cannot hope to please everyone all of the time, the problem is often directly attributable to the manner in which parties interact with one another and can be addressed by improving communication between involved parties. This may include clearly stating needs and developing clear expectations or even written agreements between conflicting parties.

Values

Clashes over values occur when disagreeing parties have real or perceived incompatibilities in their personal belief systems. Solutions include increased tolerance, understanding and acceptance of opposing points of view.

Resources

Disputes often arise from struggles over a real or perceived scarcity of available resources to adequately perform a job or achieve objectives.

‘History’

Conflicts can stem from unresolved experiences, problems and issues. These conflicts can only be settled by revisiting the past. Issues were created over time, and as such will take time to resolve. Both parties must be allowed to vent their frustrations and perspectives on the issue. The separate issues identified must be addressed and trust reestablished between the conflicting parties.

External Sources

External conflicts refer to the realities of life outside the workplace including anxiety over childcare, health, finances, divorce and other personal issues.

Psychological

These conflicts are caused or maintained by the psychological needs of individuals including the desire for power, control, autonomy and recognition. Psychological issues are often masked by other more tangible problems and may be difficult to distinguish. These issues can only be resolved by addressing the individual’s psychological needs.

Common Responses to Conflict

Individuals in conflict will normally employ one or more of the following three basic responses.

Fighting

When an individual chooses to fight, they are taking a side and getting caught up in the emotional energy flying around the dispute. These individuals are only in touch with their personal feelings and those on their side of the dispute.

A fighting response may be appropriate when a legal point must be decided, the moral issue is at stake or when a clear victor will not damage the relationship between conflicting parties.

Avoidance

Individuals who engage in avoidance are trying to protect themselves from conflict by erecting psychological barriers. This is their way of handling conflict from a safe distance. These individuals have difficulty empathizing with other parties due to the distance they have created between them.

Avoidance may be appropriate when it is important to allow the conflict time and space to de-escalate.

Acquiescence

Individuals simply give up and drop their demands when faced with a conflict. Most feel it is not worth the fight, but may feel used and manipulated later on. The problem is unresolved and festers until it erupts at a future date.

In other cases, individuals acquiesce because they prefer to give up on smaller issues to win when larger problems arise.

Resolving Conflict

The most effective means of settling conflict is to bring all parties together and allow them to air their side of the issue. Leaders must carefully listen to and observe the interaction between conflicting parties and identify the specific mix of issues involved.

Once the true issues are on the table, each must be individually resolved as outlined above. Leaders must be careful to match solutions to the problem. For instance, a historical conflict cannot be resolved by addressing psychological issues nor can a relationship conflict be resolved by addressing value issues. Solutions must take into account the underlying issues of the conflict.

Leaders must take care to completely resolve each issue to both parties’ satisfaction. Any issue left unresolved will fester and return as a bigger problem in the future. This includes any conflict with a forced resolution that one or more of the parties is compelled to accept.

Excerpt: Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

“Dissent, Even Conflict Is Necessary, Indeed Desirable”

Handling Workplace Complaints, Concerns and Issues

With Conflict, Nothing is Straightforward

Conflict Does Not Occur in a Vacuum

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Six Ways to Turn a Poor Performer Around

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manwithproblememployee

Every manager will have one or two poor performers in their unit or department. They may have inherited these individuals when they assumed the manager’s position and now must deal with them by either turning them around or terminating them for poor performance.

Employees’ negative behaviors often impact their overall performance and mirror their personal skills, attitudes and levels of discipline and perseverance. Many individuals have the “right stuff” to be successful, and only need guidance and direction to focus their abilities and increase and sustain their performance.

It is essential for managers to be able to distinguish between employees who can be rehabilitated and those who should find another company and/or profession.

People who are being unfair to both themselves and the company by only surviving in their job need frank talk about their career options.

On the other hand, employees who are struggling but have the ambition or potential can, with the proper guidance and direction, be turned into above-average, even excellent performers. It is often more sensible financially to work with these individuals rather than recruit and train new people, and also from an ethical perspective these people deserve the opportunity to turn themselves and their work around.

Managers must have a plan and structure to transition struggling people into better-than-average performers. The following steps can be used to turn a poor performer into a highly productive employee:

Define Performance Levels

Many employees are genuinely unaware of what constitutes acceptable behavior and performance. Often a manager will inherit several people who were simply not properly informed as to what is expected of them. Past managers may have dropped the ball, having failed to work with these individuals to develop their potential.

The first step a manager must take is to inform the employee that his or her behavior is unacceptable and that it is negatively impacting their performance. The employee should be educated as to the various levels of performance that are acceptable and a realistic time frame established for rehabilitation and bringing his or her work into line with established standards.

Analyze Behaviors

Managers must take the time to review and analyze the employee’s typical work-related performance and activities in order to identify the specific behaviors that must be eliminated, modified or replaced with more productive efforts.

Such discussions can be sensitive and put the individual on the defensive. He or she must be made to understand that the time and effort being expended is done so with the belief that his or her performance can be improved. They should also understand that if the manager did not think this the case he or she would have been removed from the company. Tactfully done, this should motivate the employee to change and make them more amenable to recommendations to improve their performance. The manager should further make it clear that a failure to improve adequately could well have dire repercussions.

Establish Coaching Plan

The manager, with the employee’s assistance, should develop a realistic and attainable coaching plan to assist him or her to change their behaviors and achieve acceptable levels of performance.

The coaching plan should be confined to a particular time frame with specific objectives met by predetermined points. Each goal and objective should be attainable and easily measured by both parties. The full responsibility for their implementation falls on the employee with the manager providing full support and assistance as required.

Commit to Goals and Objectives

Once a coaching plan is developed and agreed upon by both parties, it is important that both the employee and manager commit themselves to the outlined goals and objectives. While the employee will carry the majority of accountability for the plan, the manager must commit to fulfilling his or her portion of the responsibility as completely as possible if it is to be successful. This may include providing the employee individualized training and reinforcement as well as other commitments of time and energy.

If managers want these individuals to make a positive change, they must actively work with them toward these goals. Developing a plan and leaving these individuals without adequate supervision and support is a recipe for failure—and is unfair. It builds his or her expectations for improved performance and will result in total demoralization when they are unable to make the necessary changes on their own.

Manage Goals and Objectives

The implementation of the coaching plan is the most critical element of resolving negative behaviors and turning an employee’s performance around. Both employee and manager must actively manage the goals and objectives with the employee actively working toward their accomplishment and the manager keeping them focused and on track. This means he or she must positively reinforce the employee’s desirable behaviors and provide redirection when old behaviors resurface. Additionally, as the manager coaches their employee, he or she is providing constructive criticism to guide and direct them in attaining their goals and objectives.

Measure Progress Against Goals

As coaching plans are implemented, managers must measure the employee’s progress at regular intervals and provide full and sufficient feedback in order for them to make needed adjustments. As the employee progresses toward the attainment of his or her goals and objectives, monitoring can be less frequent and intensive.

When the employee happily does meet the stated goals and objectives, the manager should celebrate the individual’s success to reinforce their good work. While some managers will assume they are just doing what is expected of them, any major change is worthy of celebration.

Excerpt: Negative Employee Attitudes: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Related:

Four Primary Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

Leaders Succeed When Employees Are Successful

Three Reasons Why Leaders Fail

Looking into the Crystal Ball

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Becoming a Leader of Your Own Making: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Leadership Styles: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

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smallgroup10

Effective teams worry about obtaining positive results. This is why they typically succeed in the projects they are assigned, and in implementing the positive solutions they generate.

Teams are unlike work groups. They are an assembly of people who are committed to balanced participation, equal contribution and regular deliberation. The ideas and abilities of individual team members need to be used for the overall good of the project or its purpose. Such a collaborative dynamic does not occur automatically. It takes a great deal of energy and purposeful activity and is easily destroyed by the lack of focus, agendas and motivation of participating team members.

Successful teams consciously focus on how to generate better results. To get them, a team needs to be able to organize its talent, assigned roles, tasks and processes so members remain interested and absorbed in what the team is charted to do and accomplish.

When a team does not worry about generating positive results, it will never function as effectively as it can. One reason is because members will resort to performing roles and taking stances that tend to suit and advance their own purposes and desires, but act against the best interests of the team.

These actions are quite destructive. They can easily undermine team success in terms of efficiently and effectively addressing and accomplishing the task it was assigned. These destructive forces must be guarded against if a team is to be a highly productive and functional decision making entity.

When a team fails to be results oriented, it tends to allow five major destructive forces to take root. This is the result of looking the other way and allowing members who have a tendency for continually “turning off,” “labeling,” “playing devil’s advocate,” “controlling” and “yes-butting” to take over team processes and group dynamic standards and structure.

To obtain better team results and sustain a high focus on generating them, with the least amount of disruptive interference, the team alone must become responsible for:

  • Minimizing actions that result in negative attitudes toward addressing and advancing the team project
  • Maximizing actions that make team participants enjoy the process of collaborative problem solving and experimentation
  • Modeling and reinforcing effective performance techniques that have a problem-centered focus
  • Getting team members excited about the project’s associated opportunities and challenges
  • Making the team as a whole eager to function effectively and cooperatively while moving it continually forward
  • Reducing frustrations to prevent members from becoming unmotivated and giving up
  • Overcoming and preventing these major destructive forces is absolutely necessary.

Turning off Others and Project Excitement

There are seven specific actions that work to turn others off as well as decrease levels of personal and team enthusiasm toward an assigned project:

  • Personal interruptions when someone is trying to explain something
  • Taking discussions off track
  • Ignoring what a speaker is saying
  • Ignoring and/or downplaying others and their responses
  • Using nonverbal negative communication tactics
  • Being singularly focused and totally closed-minded
  • Using derisive humor

Any of these actions indicate that a team member simply doesn’t want to take responsibility to help the team perform and function well, or take an active interest in what it is trying to accomplish and tend to generate a lot of conflict within a team.

This is because individuals who attempt to shut down the sharing of explanations, insights and opinions will impede team progress and problem solving efforts, which makes it difficult and frustrating for others who want to move forward.

It is easy to predict that the majority of team members will likely tend to isolate offending individuals rather than openly and conscientiously deal with their inappropriate actions in an attempt to alter or change their behavior. As a result the team loses a valuable member simply because it failed to adhere to and reinforce the standards of communication it had set for itself.

Labeling

When a team fails to maintain a results-oriented focus, it often allows labeling to go unchecked. When someone inside a team places a label on another member’s behavior or attempts to describe another’s attitudes or motives, this individual becomes a detrimental force to reckon with.

Major breakdowns in team process and progress are often due to intentional or unintentional labeling practices. Labeling occurs when team members: talk forcibly to someone, intentionally confront another person in an intimidating manner, suggest that another person has a particular attitude or unworthy motive, or react sharply by challenging what another person is saying or implying.

Whatever tactic is used, predictably speaking, a team can be certain that the person being attacked will immediately resort to a defensive position, and conflict and resentment will follow. This tends to disrupt and halt any discussion or conversation. In teams this is extremely detrimental and unproductive.

Not only do labels affect the whole team in a social way, but also seriously affect the individuals being labeled from a psychological standpoint. Members who are labeled negatively by their team counterparts or peers tend to: be more depressed, have a lower self-esteem, portray defensive characteristics, and dominate others as a personal protective measure.

Self-concept may play a large role in the everyday happenings of labeling behaviors. When a team member assigns a label to another team member, it may actually reflect how this particular person perceives and views him or herself.

Research further suggests that a person’s flexible self-concept influences the process by which people form impressions of others. In other words, self-concept impacts the labels one tends to apply to others.

No matter what, labeling practices are fairly predictable. Silence and non-participation will become more apparent within the team, and resentment toward others will cloud and hinder open communication.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Playing the role of devil’s advocate is typically exhibited through the use of the word “no,” which oftentimes is referred to as “nay-saying.” Predictably, this type of occurrence generates not only conflict and chaos, but also frustration and stress within the team setting.

A devil’s advocate makes certain that whatever is ineffective or bad in regard to another’s idea, opinion or suggestion is openly and emphatically expressed. They emphasize so powerfully what is wrong with something, that what is right tends to get buried or ignored before it is even explored.

It is important to counter this type of team-subverting behavior, which can be done individually by interjecting something like:

  • “I heard what you had to say but I would also like to hear another’s point of view on this.”
  • “I am really not interested so much in why (name) takes this position as I am in (name’s) reasoning behind it, and this is what I wish to know more about.”
  • “I totally agree that there may be reasons why this won’t work, but I am intrigued by the possibility that it may work. Let’s address why and how it could possibly work
  • effectively.”

Controlling

Without maintaining a focus on how to get the best results possible, it becomes easy to predict that a team will allow one or more of its members to control its: progress, issues, structure, methods of problem solving, and overall situations. This becomes a major reason why a team ends up functioning far less effectively and obtaining lower-level results.

It is important to understand what control looks like so the team can proactively watch for and effectively handle these types of situations. Individuals who always attempt to take control tend to have personalities that are fear or pride driven, even though they may have no idea that these two factors continually influence them.

The team needs to take a step back and ask, “Why does this person feel the need to dictate or to control this issue or situation?” Most controlling individuals tend to fear that if they do not control the situation, they will lose control of their surroundings and influence.

Often control is related to one’s feelings of self-importance or pride as an individual feels the need to be in control to feel special or be the center of attention. Unfortunately, “pride” in a team setting often manifests itself as an unwillingness to back down or to surrender power or authority. Ultimately it is to accept that someone else might be right and that the other might be wrong.

The team and its members must realize that control is the opposite of trust. If a member feels the need to constantly be in control of what the team focuses on, how something is done or what it does, this individual is demonstrating that he or she does not trust the team to make appropriate or effective decisions on its own.

Predictably, this lack of trust is detrimental, especially within a team setting, since trust is a vital part of the team relationship process, which enables each person within it to feel important and trustworthy.

Many controlling personalities don’t ever think about what they are doing. Most don’t realize that they are controlling individuals until they are told. Control can be broken. It is not a permanent condition that cannot be changed. Most people who are controlling in their actions and behaviors want to change, they just don’t know how.

Several action steps members can take to help overcome control issues within the team environment include:

  • The first step requires the team to acknowledge that an individual is projecting a dominating or controlling personality.
  • The second step requires openly addressing it. For those with pride-based control, this is a difficult exercise, but a very important one that is crucial to change.
  • The third step requires the offending individual to accept needed, constructive criticism, which can be part of the set standards for the team.
  • This step will demonstrate a true desire on the person’s part to be a better team player. It also will begin to reestablish elements of personal as well as team trust.
  • The fourth step requires changing the team’s reaction to control-based situations. These circumstances will occasionally happen, but as a team it is important how its members react, address and respond to them.
  • The fifth step requires creating a more solid, positive team atmosphere, which includes keeping positive words flowing, never talking in a derogatory way about others, either in front of or away from them.

“Yes-Buts”

One of the most common occurrences within a team discussion is demonstrating the “yes-but” syndrome. This is typically done in response to someone’s ideas, suggestions or way to approach something.

Predicting the effects created by this is fairly reliable: unclear, ambiguous messages are sent and interpreted. Responses appear to say one thing but actually convey another leading to team communication breakdowns and miscommunication.

This is one of the hardest practices to detect within a team setting because it is often used so subtly and skillfully. Yes-buts:

  • Imply, “I heard what you said but you are wrong.”
  • Tend to be a personal discounting of what another person says or believes.
  • Tell the speaker, “As a listener I think you may have a good or useful idea or suggestion, but it isn’t worth much in this situation.”

The “yes-but” technique is often used to soften the blow of disagreement. This approach tends to occur most when members on the team attempt to personally sell an idea to others or want to take control of a situation.

Either way, “yes-butting” should be put to rest quickly. Allowing team members to apply this technique will predictably hinder progress while forcing likely effective solutions out of the problem solving picture.

Related:

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Personal Behavioral Patterns Can Interrupt Contact Between Team Members

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groupconflict

Interaction or contact between individual team members creates a personal impact caused by varying personality differences, which in turn directly affects how teams function. Team members must make contact with each other for teams to develop effectively.

Some individuals tend to make immediate team contact without hesitation, through initiating or actively participating in conversations and discussions. Others tend to wait to make contact until invited into interactive encounters. This is a direct reflection of their individual personality styles and how they relate to others and their surroundings.

Each individual member has a complex series of relationships within a team. Most of these relationships are one-to-one with other team members. However, it should be noted that individual members also have a relationship with the team itself and with each subunit of the team.

It is essential for leaders to consider how their focus on team member relationships and willingness to work to make interactions more beneficial directly impacts their teams’ performance and results. The fact that individual personality styles can enhance or inhibit member relationships has ramifications for the team communication process and impacts members’ abilities to solve problems, arrive at consensus and make effective decisions. Therefore, it is important for leaders to pay attention to these characteristics and intercede when they occur to reestablish or maintain positive interaction.

Five personal behavior patterns can interrupt contact between team members. These patterns account for the various ways some team members tend to block or inhibit their relationships with others and create barriers to team effectiveness.

All of the five behaviors outlined below are interlinked and can be exhibited by all individuals, including leaders.

Projection and Mirroring

Projection interrupts contact by producing an overreaction to certain qualities displayed by other team members. Many times individuals who use projection are totally unaware that the team members who generally overreact possess the same behavioral tendencies.

Oftentimes mirroring is displayed when particular individuals accuse others of doing or saying something that reflects their own personal behaviors.

Both of these behaviors are so prominent with certain personalities that these individuals become hypersensitive in their responses and actions with others. Projection and mirroring effectively block contact since there is always an element of judgment involved in the interaction. This invariably places other team members into defensive postures that result in ongoing internal team conflict.

Introjection

Introjection interrupts contact through a lack of thought discrimination on the part of certain individuals in accepting information, perspectives and ideas without question. Team members with a strong tendency toward introjection may work closely with other selective team members whose superior experience is accepted and unchallenged, either through admiration or intimidation.

Team members who tend to introject generally lack the experience, seasoning and expertise to openly and confidently challenge new ideas, perceptions and concepts. Consequently, introjection is considered a part of their overall learning process.

Retroflection

Retroflection interrupts contact, as individuals exhibiting this behavior do for themselves as they would do for others or as they would like others to do for them. Feelings of personal guilt are a classic form of retroflection, where fault is personally accepted without outwardly criticizing others. Retroflection is also a superb form of personal defense. It is often displayed through the avoidance of conflict, which creates a “dead area” in team relationships. Because of retroflection, certain concerned team members often find themselves becoming depressed or deflated.

Confluence

Confluence interrupts contact through a team member’s strong reluctance or inability to reflect inwardly. Outward contact is considered necessary and a top priority for individuals who display this behavioral trait. These members are strongly team-oriented and will often refuse to disband their teams when assignments are completed. Or, these individuals will tend to remain in contact with specific team members long after their teams have been dismantled and their projects disbanded. Additionally, team members who exhibit confluence tend to possess the inability to adequately pace themselves in their tasks and assignments.

Deflection

Deflection is an instinctive avoidance of contact. It is often displayed through the refusal to share personal feelings, perceptions or feedback. It is also identified in interruptive attempts to change subjects, generalize discussions, or tell stories rather than to focus on tasks. Some individuals often use deflection as a way to avoid emotional contact with other team members.

Excerpt: Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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