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Disciplinary Action – Employee Conflict

Disciplinary Action – Employee Conflict

“This isn’t fair. It’s not my fault. It’s his fault, not mine.”

Sound familiar?

Employee conflict is a fact of working life and disciplinary action is necessary, because conflict can lead to delays in workflow, substandard work or – even worse – an unsafe working environment. 

What will your clients think when they hear your employees complaining on the job? Will they trust that the work is being done well, with attention and care? Are they likely to hire you again? 

Probably not.

It’s important to keep something in mind as you navigate the storms that arise in your workplace: 

Successful people aren’t those who have no problems. Successful people have learned how to solve problems.

As a customer service manager you have three choices when you’re faced with employee conflict.

  1. Reprimand the employee and demand that they “pull up their socks”.
  2. Reassign the employee to relocate the source of conflict.
  3. Reassess the source of conflict and collaborate with the employee to solve the problem for a more constructive, long-term result.

It should be obvious the third option results in a more positive – and profitable – workplace. But it takes time, something most managers don’t always feel they have in abundance. 

It also takes empathy, patience and tenacity.

Employee development isn’t limited to making sure technical skills are in place. “Soft skills” – like the ability to get along with coworkers even when disagreements arise – are just as vital to the success of your business. Nurturing those soft skills leads to better customer service.

Watch the following video then we’ll talk about the take-aways…

As you saw, the driver in the blue car felt trapped and was experiencing a high level of stress. That stress was preventing the driver from reaching his destination quickly, and he refused to back off and look at the bigger picture.

He blamed the red car, the white car, the truck, for his problem. In fact, the blue car was tailgating, creating a blindspot, and still not getting to his destination more quickly. The constructive opportunities were hidden from view, ramping up the sense of hopelessness and stress.

When the blue car backed off alternate solutions became visible. The driver took control of his situation and used a broader perspective to manage his stress.

Backing off in a highly charged, stressful situation is counterintuitive. The most common reaction is to meet a challenge with an emotionally-charged counter-challenge.

Calmer heads must prevail. Your employees will take your lead if you ease off and make an effort to see the bigger picture. 

Disciplinary action doesn’t always have to be punitive. It can be constructive if you:

  1. Step back and try to see the bigger picture – what are your employee’s blindspots?
  2. Are you aware of your blindspots and how they impact your actions.
  3. Are patient and seek cooperative solutions so your employee understands how to improve their performance.* 

*Watch this video to get another perspective on teamwork and collaboration.

Be mindful of employees who rationalize their poor behaviour, though. They’ll opt for what’s quick and easy rather than what’s right, and this won’t result in lasting improvement.

A skilled customer service leader who can keep calm, maintain perspective and identify the blindspots will see vast improvements in employee performance and, as a result, satisfied customers.

Did you find this article helpful? You might enjoy:

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Follow-up Skills 

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Steve Coscia

The road from professional musician to thirty-year customer service veteran to best-selling author and speaker is not a typical career path, but Steve Coscia may have started a new trend.

Coscia is one of the most widely published and quoted authorities in the customer service industry. He has published more than 200 articles, four books and a series of training DVDs. His college curriculum is taught at institutions of higher learning throughout the United States and Canada.

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