The Price Tag of Conflict in the Workplace

Most CEOs would love office drama to be just another story plot on their favorite TV soap opera in which they could just press OFF button on the remote and the problem magically disappears. Just think how entertaining it would be to have David Copperfield perform such acts!  Unfortunately, it is not that easy considering the fact that workplace conflict can stem from the most trivial of offenses.  “It often starts out really small,” says Anne McSorley, partner with WorkBest Consulting LLC and a trained psychotherapist.  “But in a small business it can become viral.”  In a larger company, the conflict may be contained to a workgroup.  But in a small business, it’s everyone’s problem.  The problem with most management teams is the fact they are not seeing what’s happening until they get the letter and then the response is simply, “How can we make this not go to court?” The CPP study found that the primary causes of workplace conflict are related to personality clashes, followed by stress and workload.  “We know that people are similar get along better, but that leads to other problems, like groupthink,” says Rich Thompson, director of research for CPP.  While every small business owner knows that such workplace conflicts affect productivity and morale, the actual tangible money drain of office drama is not as obvious.  When CPP Incorporated publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument commissioned a study on workplace conflict, they found that in 2008, U.S. employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict.  This amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days.  For example, 25 percent of employees said that avoiding conflict led to sickness or absence from work.  Equally alarming, nearly 10 percent reported that workplace conflict led to project failure and more than one-third said that conflict resulted in someone leaving the company, either through firing or quitting.  Those types of statistics equivocate into real financial losses especially for small businesses.  They also prove that leaders aren’t stepping in or staying out of it when they should.  While some level of conflict is healthy in the workplace, leadership needs to intervene if it becomes serious or has gone on too long.   So as a manager, you may ask what is too long? Here are some warning signs which indicate you need to intervene NOW: (And the typical manager spends 25-40 percent of her time dealing with workplace conflicts. Just think about how much productivity is being wasted!) A sudden change in employee behavior A sudden change in employee body language or verbal tone Increased absences A noticeable reduction in productivity Increased palpable stress levels The leadership in your organization should always consider the cost of employee turnover.   For example, consider the costs of filling a vacant position, recruitment costs (placing ads, hiring head hunters), training the new hire, paying other employees involved in the hiring and training process, paying severance, and the lost investment you made in the previous employee (including their knowledge).  Smart leaders know that replacing an employee will cost you 150 to 200 percent more than that employee’s salary and benefits.  This simply means even a mid-level employee making $30,000 a year could cost your company $70,000...

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Why working for Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Matter

Many of the bad things that happen in companies are a function of impulsive behavior.  Recent studies clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.  Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he or she still will not make a great leader.  So what is emotional intelligence?  Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you.  People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.  After all most people want a leader that can stay in control of his or her team by calmly assessing the situation instead of a temper tantrum or shouting match.  Now when it comes to Intelligence quotient (IQ) this can be defined as a value that indicates a person’s ability to learn, understand, and apply information and skills in a meaningful way. Interesting enough, people with high EQ do not have to have a high IQ to succeed because social skills in the workplace and in everyday life are constantly being utilized.  For instance, according to a recent Forbes article “Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and the ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead.  Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge.”  Therefore, even though high IQ could enhance the chance of a successful life, the EQ is the essential ingredient of happiness. According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize EQ, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence: Self-awareness (ability to recognize & understand your moods, emotions and effects on others) Self-regulation (the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods..think before acting) Motivation (a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status) Empathy (the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people) Social skills (proficiency in managing relationships and building networks) So what test, if any, are available to gauge potential candidates for EQ competencies? According to an article by Stephen Blakesley, a Vistage International speaker, the MSCEIT developed by Mayer, Salovey, and David Caruso, was the first EQ test, then a more updated version was developed by Reuven Bar-On, a psychologist who in fact coined the term “emotional quotient.” (Bar-On model is more widely used and validated than the MSCEIT) Unfortunately, far too many training programs that intend to build leadership skills including emotional intelligence are a waste of time and money.  And the problem is quite simple—they focus on the wrong part of the brain!  Just think of all major companies that have been tackling emotional intelligence and still wonder why their leaders are not developing like predicted.  Perhaps, this is because they fail to go deep sea fishing for the answer that lies in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses, and drives.  Research indicates that the limbic system learns best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback.  Now compare this with the kind of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability.  For...

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The 911 Call for Diversity Consulting in the Workplace

Does it profit a multi-million dollar company to sit back and wait for that manager or supervisor to violate the company’s policy with inappropriate language or code of conduct towards employees which forces you into unfavorable publicity and million dollar lawsuits?  Perhaps, that is the million dollar question every CEO running a business should stay thinking about.  Your goal as the CEO should not be to wait for sensitivity training that is required by the state or federal government when an incident occurs when you have the opportunity to take the necessary voluntary actions yourself.  Instead your diversity goals should be focused on creating a mindset in an inclusive organization where ALL people are allowed to do their best work.  Over the years there has been a common misconception that diversity is only about race or that it is affirmative action or EEO.  Diversity in organizations encompasses all differences that people bring to their work environment. It includes but is not limited to race, age, gender, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, work level and function, economic background, communication and learning styles.  Avoid the Click of the Mouse Trap Most companies make the common costly business mistake of taking  their diverse pool of customers for granted when it comes to diversity.  This can easily occur because the CEO and top management can easily be distracted from the stresses of running the company.  The new era of transparency with respect to technological advances in our society should be more than enough reason for a  21st century CEO to be attentively conscious.  Just think of how many consumers have the ability to research your level of diversity and inclusion with the click of the almighty mouse.   Consumers and employees more than ever realize when diversity is being embraced not just on an employee level but most of all on the management and board of directors level.  If you think you are too big of a company to even bother caring about embracing diversity, think again.  What do you think Adam Silver’s driving force on standing up and recommending the National Basketball Association (NBA) to permanently remove Donald Sterling for life from the NBA as an owner for his poor code of conduct?  As a business consultant, I am more prone to understand just because someone is the CEO, and their company is profitable does not mean that they are aware of their organizations’ diversity issues.  For instance, diversity training may not be your organizations solution, therefore, one must hire a competent consultant that can examine all the systems and processes from  recruitment, hiring, performance evaluations, promotion, and marketing.  As you address each of these it is crucial that as in any consulting relationship, you establish a process for feedback and communication. The Business Case for Diversity Training and Consulting Organizations should not be alarmed to get resistance from the management and employee level.  However, as a CEO, you have to set the tone for the entire organization because at the end of the day I rather deal with the short-term resistance instead of the damaging long-term resistance from stockholders and valuable customers investing in your organization which decreases profits and most of all your integrity.  Courts and consumers question the head of an organization not the tail when lawsuits prevail.  The companies that incorporate a consistent diversity training program and advocate diversity in the workplace can experience valuable benefits...

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How 2-Dimensional Diversity Drives Innovation

Diversity coupled with innovation is becoming the most attractive competitive advantage in today’s workplaces all over the world. However, the notion of how employers benefit from a diverse workforce can be hard to prove or quantify in relationship to measuring an organizations ability to innovate. How does the mobility of two-dimensional shapes in regards to their ability to go forwards and backwards in a line and turn in any direction on a flat surface relate to diversity? Perhaps, because the same definition can be applied when a company embraces two-dimensional diversity genuinely. Ultimately this means a company is essentially able to navigate anywhere in today’s diverse market while driving dynamic innovative results. According to the December 2013 Harvard Business Review there is compelling evidence that diversity is the key which unlocks innovation and ultimately drive market growth. One must first however know that when it comes to diversity it can be categorized by two kinds of diversity. The first kind of diversity is called inherent diversity which are the traits you are born with (e.g. gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation). The second is called acquired diversity which is gained from experience (e.g. working in another country while learning how to appreciate cultural differences). Companies who leaders exhibit at least 3 inherent and 3 acquired diversity traits can be classified as operating in a two-dimensional diversity platform. Interesting enough, correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes gives companies with 2D diversity the ability to out innovate and perform others.  Research findings also found companies are 45% likelier to report that their market share grew and were 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. However, keep in mind that inherent diversity is only half of the equation. Leaders also need acquired diversity to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas. There are six behaviors which have been found to unlock innovation across the board: *Ensuring that everyone is heard. *Making it safe to propose novel ideas. *Giving team members decision-making authority. *Sharing credit for success *Giving actionable feedback. *Implementing feedback from the team. A team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client. So which companies are becoming trailblazers in the world of Diversity? Diversity and dynamic innovation is what made the following top 5 companies land a spot on the 2014 DiversityInc list —Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp, Sodexo, EY, Kaiser Permanente, and PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Although it is quite comforting to know that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client. Not to mention research has also found employees that are in a speak up type of culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential. One must be cautious of selective amnesia when considering the companies who are not unfortunately landing top seats on diversity lists while examining the reasons why. Successful human resource management and upper management teams realize attracting diversity just doesn’t stop at the hiring process level.  Sadly enough if diversity is not truly embraced throughout the organization then one could have the next innovative idea lying dormant in a cubicle.   References https://hbr.org/2013/12/how-diversity-can-drive-innovation http://www.diversityinc.com/the-diversityinc-top-50-companies-for-diversity-2014/   Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at...

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How does a 3rd-Generation Family-Owned Business stay in the Game?

Today’s family-owned businesses face even more new threats from that commonly used word  known as globalization.  Just think about all the increased 21st century challenges of coping with shifts in technology, business models, and consumer behavior.  According to the Family Business Institute, only 30 percent survive beyond the founder’s generation, and only just 12 percent make it to a third.  Remarkably, Bell’s Fine Clothing Store, founded in 1929 by Sam Shendow, located in Winchester, VA has successfully beaten the odds to make it to the third generation.  Stephen Shendow, third generation clothier, stated “In order to progress annually, you must progress daily whereas standing still is not an option for us!”  This statement still holds true because I can still remember watching my father purchase Members Only clothing brand from this fine clothing store at 8 years old and now in 2014 the store is still in operation with the opportunity to see the third generation successfully run the business with even more class.  It is quite impressive that the vision of a man in the Great Depression is still stronger than ever in the 21st century.   There are usually three major challenges that family-owned businesses constantly face in order to compete and succeed in the 21st century.  Perhaps one obvious challenge a family-owned business will face is the way technological changes because it moves so swiftly that it bypasses the older generation.  For instance, sometimes you tend to hear the older generation say statements like, “The kid just didn’t have it like the old man.”  However, in reality the old man really left the business in a shamble and the poor kid never had a chance.   With Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedln dominating social media, a business owner is almost forced to keep up with our constant changing technological world in order to survive. Another challenge is how do you properly prepare for succession planning without causing division in the family.  Rod Flottman, father and former CEO of the Flottman Company, a third generation printing business that was founded in 1921 and has continued to expand into new markets faced a common problem, “Who do I pass the business down to?”  All of Mr. Flottman’s sons were interested in becoming the CEO therefore, he prepared for this type of dilemma by suggesting a rotating presidency of 10- year terms, all would own a third of the business, and the sons would have to develop business plans on how they would operate the business.  Tom Flottman, currently CEO, stated “If you do the same thing for more than five years in a row, you’re going to fall behind.”         The last major challenge is recognizing when to seek a business consultant’s advice.  It is a well- known fact that family businesses tend to make emotional decisions.  When the Flottman Company hit $35 million in annual revenue, they established a formal board.  Paul Darley said the value of the board became apparent when it moved to close the doors of an operation in Oregon that had been unprofitable, on an off, for 10 years.  As I mentioned in my previously written article entitled, “Why Do I Need a Business Consultant?”  I highlighted the fact that consultants provide a fresh unbiased perspective.  Most business owners would agree with this, but yet miss the mark on either not...

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Discover a vacation in the beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica

Mind for Consulting has recently collaborated with Mo-Jo vacation private villa rentals to help promote its newly custom built mansion villa located on the enchanting island of Discovery Bay, Jamaica.  This is the perfect time to take that much needed vacation get away and relax on the white sand beaches and clear calm waters of Discovery Bay, Jamaica.  From the well known Sumfest Reggae Festival which is currently scheduled from July 13-19 to the main attractions such as snorkeling, at sea fishing, historic sites (Bob Marley Museum, Green Cotto cave and many more) and local entertainment.  This is definitely a vacation you can no longer afford to keep putting off.  So, what are you waiting for…come stay with us because CATERING IS WHAT WE DO BEST! Please click on the brochure below to view our GREAT AFFORDABLE RATES and general booking information.  DISCOVERY BAY JAMAICA VILLA  BROCHURE  ...

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