Conflicts, Feuds and the Wisdom of the Swiss

If you have employees, there's bound to be conflict and if you have a family, there is bound to be a feud. When this occurs for you, join me in savoring the wisdom <and neutrality> of the Swiss.

I may look calm, cool and collected on the outside but know that I am usually working like crazy to keep my own emotions and reactions in check on the inside. The last thing an already emotional situation needs is another person looking to establish a position.

It's hard work to fight, it's draining and in the end - no one really wins. Having been there and done that before, I now strive to be part of the solution and not exacerbate the problem.

You can do the same by not judging, keeping an open mind, and keeping your dog out of the fight

So much easier said than done, especially when you are not feeling personally attacked, your hot buttons were not pressed or the hand you put out was not just bitten by that dirty dog.

Be in my space when that happens to me and you'll get a glimpse of what really goes down behind the carefully constructed exterior.

Just not in the mood for neutrality, taking the high road or being the voice of reason?

The Swiss have a remedy for that too . . . chocolate, wine and colorful hang gliders sailing from the mountain tops over the picturesque countryside - and their very own Evil Hr Lady.

I'm heading there now.

A Little Labor Relations Rant

You are preaching to the choir when you say labor relations is tough.

In all things labor, I've had it relatively easy in my career. Even so, there have been hurtful moments, tears, second guesses, the horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized I missed a detail, misinterpreted a sign, over (or under) estimated a gesture or simply misplayed the game. It wasn't easy, it wasn't comfortable, but I learned.

No sympathy

Supervisors who come to me looking for a member of my staff to "take the blame"  because their feeling were hurt, or ask me to "do something” to ensure meetings with labor representatives run collaboratively and comfortably are sent away disappointed when they are told to learn from the experience . . . and get thicker skin.

On Rehaul by Lance Haun, Lance wrote, "people really don’t deal with conflict well in the workplace. More specifically, a large proportion of people think that people should be more agreeable and reduce conflict wherever possible." 

Spot on.

Only The Strong Survive

Conflict is inherent in labor relations, and no, I can't (or won't) make it go away. What I (HR) can do is assist supervisors in dealing with conflict more effectively. I can provide technical expertise, offer advice, lessons learned and points to consider, meet to review issues evidence and talking points, and when appropriate, facilitate discussions between supervisors and the union.

Some things simply can not be taught in a classroom. Much of labor management relations is just in time training and as life would have it, the time often comes before the training. Learn the rules of the game, buck up, and do your homework. Be honest, forthright and equitable. Build relationships every day. Know that conflict will always be there, it's the nature of beast.

Own it, learn from it, or grab a seat in the bleachers. Meeting adjourned.

Rant aside, HR pros, what have you done to better prepare your supervisors for the labor-management dynamic? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit iStockPhoto