Conflict is tough for most of us. According to many physiologists, we tend to tap into several simple strategies when faced with conflict: fight, flight, or freeze. As a result, we likely aren't reducing unnecessary conflicts, and effectively dealing with necessary conflicts in productive ways. So many opportunities are lost because we aren’t engaging well. Being effective at conflict, both in a proactive and reactive way, demands that we work at it as an ongoing and everyday activity. In essence, it is a lifestyle choice in how we talk, problem solve, inquire with others, and arrange our processes and teams.
Rayna had just received an interesting request. J.B., a recent addition to the front-line management team, had come to her following the division wide quarterly town hall update. The division president, Anne, had given a talk on accountability. She’d been firm in her resolve to increase division wide understanding of what it meant to be accountable at work. J.B. wasn’t questioning the directive. He was struggling with the meaning. What did accountability mean for him as a manager?
Change was in the wind. As is true for many industries, the insurance industry was facing significant change. Making the shift from a regulated to a deregulated industry seemed a daunting challenge for the 100 year old RockSolid Insurance Company. The question for the executive team was how to craft a strategy and initiate change in ways that would enable the company to compete successfully into the future.
Imagine that you are in a conversation when you suddenly realize that you have had this exact same disagreement with a co-worker, or a family member, many times before. In the moment, you can predict what you will say and do and what the other person will too. You feel compelled to act in a certain way, even when you know that what you will say or do next is unwise or unproductive. You cannot seem to help yourself. Or the other person! After the conversation has gone from bad to worse, you may find yourself attributing it to the other person’s incompetence, character flaws, or bad motive.
A workplace investigation will not repair dysfunctional workplace relationships. A workplace investigation neither builds bridges, nor resolves interpersonal conflict. In fact, an investigation may make a difficult work environment even more difficult. So how do we put Humpty Dumpty back together again, if all the King’s horses and all the King’s people could not?
How do you fix a hostile workplace after a strike, merger or other polarizing event? How do you create a healthy workplace after a harassment or grievance investigation? It can be difficult to rebuild the trust that has been lost between members of a team or in leadership, or both. But, according to Anne Grant, you have to bring people back to a joint vision of what the workplace should be.
When Hunter Harrison joined the recently-privatized Canadian National Railway (CNR) in 1998 as Chief Operating Officer, the company was generally acknowledged as one of the worst railroads in North America, highly indebted, perpetually in the red, and losing market share to the more efficient, flexible and newly deregulated U.S. railway and trucking industries.
The world of work is changing, and the most successful organizations and practitioners are those that understand how these changes impact the way they do business. To help them do so, and to foster further dialogue, Queen’s IRC hosted the Workplace in Motion Summit. This report elaborates on the most important questions, issues, and themes identified by Summit participants going forward.
Organizational culture isn’t like a sports car. It cannot instantly change directions and make a hairpin turn. Instead, it’s more like a tanker ship that takes time and planning to put on the right course. If you think about how your organization or team arrived at the culture it currently has, it’s unlikely you can point to a single event, or even a few moments, that explain your current culture. Instead, it is the slow changes that happen, unnoticed at the time, which better explain how most organizational cultures develop.
Dealing with resistance is tough work, but avoiding this work only makes change more difficult. When facing major change, management tends to view the new direction as an opportunity, while employees face the change with feelings of uncertainty, fear and disruption. Furthermore, most change leaders underestimate the amount of resistance they will face. However, as this case shows, external conditions, trust in the organization, and skillful handling of resistance can all contribute to lessening resistance and increasing support for a change initiative.
With an impressive line-up of guest speakers and facilitators, the Queen’s IRC 2015 Workplace in Motion Summit brought together over 100 leaders in HR, OD and LR from across the country to engage in conversations about the workplace of the future, and the trends that are driving new models for organizational planning. The Summit, held on April 16 in Toronto, featured a number of themes, including: Talent: How do we engage, retain and motivate a new generation of workers? Transformation: How can organizations transform without trauma?
How do you change the culture in a workplace where workers don’t trust the leaders, where employees are not engaged, and where people just don’t care about doing their jobs? A few months ago, I was speaking to a group of senior leaders and the topic of changing culture and increasing employee engagement came up. The conversation started innocuously, with a comment like, “There’s too many potholes in the road and you can’t get people, whose job it is to fill potholes, to care.”
In my consulting work over the last 25 years, I've seen a significant shift in the role of coaching in the workplace. During this time, coaching could not remain static. It had to evolve to accommodate the many changes and disruptions we have seen in the business world, such as new technologies, the globalization of markets and competition, the rapidly increasing pace of change, and new demands on employees to work faster, smarter and be more productive more efficient and effective.