"The number one reason for conflict is the need to be right."
The first time I heard this, I was an ROTC instructor by day and a graduate student by night. When I wasn't teaching leadership or hanging out by the Schuylkill River, I was grabbing nuggets of wisdom from my graduate courses.
I think of this nugget often with managers and employee relations.
The Beginning of the End
Managers who approach employee relations with a need to be right are all wrong. They approach employee relations as a zero sum game. They can't talk without spitting, consider without pacing, or see the forest for the trees. They gloat when a decision is in their favor and talk about quality of hire. They analyze employee attendance, work quality and engagement. They don't ever look to themselves for answers.
Good people do bad things and employees do not perform. It's a manager's job to address employee conduct and performance issues and there are workplace consequences for both. The consequences may range from a performance discussion with the manager to the loss of employment or something in between.
Good managers address conduct and performance issues with an eye towards changing employee behavior, not simply to prove a point. Good managers take feedback. A manager who won't take feedback or consider all options, maybe, just maybe, shouldn't be in that role.
Doing it Right
Employee relations done right means keeping the organizational eye on what matters most. What matters most is staffing an organization with people who perform and managers who treat people equitably and respectfully.
Employee relations done right means being responsive to employee issues, being prepared to support a case, and being open to consider all options. Employee relations done right positively impacts employee attendance, work quality, engagement, and organizational effectiveness.
There's a difference between needing to be right and doing the right things and while the final action taken may be the same, the road to get there is paved very differently.
Which road are your managers on?
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