Archive for October, 2013

Lack of Clarity: Are Your Company Policies The Cause of Conflict?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The development of stress and conflict in the workplace is a problem that affects most businesses. Unclear and inconsistent company policies can be a source of stress. Work related pressure can hamper employee performance, and prove expensive to employers. Every business should strive to reduce workplace related stress. This can be achieved by a sound management policy that encourages employees towards enhanced performance and better productivity. Problems between employees can arise due to ambiguous policies having been created by the company’s management. The mission statement of the company and properly defined job descriptions are common sources of misunderstood policies.

Lack of clarity in the company’s mission, vision or business plan:

Most businesses plan ahead. Some organizations have detailed mission statements and vision plans, while others only look to the short-term future. Regardless of the approach, it is important to make employees feel connected to this very important facet of the business. Employees will likely feel more motivated and involved if they are made aware of the importance of their contribution towards the overall objective of the company. A manager is responsible for ensuring that his or her team is aware of its important role in supporting the overall objectives of the company. If this is not accomplished, then employees will be hard pressed to want to be “team players” and the result will be an absence of clear objectives and goals.

Clearly defined role and responsibilities:

Having a clear job description that avoids confusion about a role is a valuable way to avoid workplace conflict. If an employee’s responsibilities are unclear, then changes to the company through new hires, transfers, role changes or structural changes could allow for stress and conflict to arise among confused employees. By clearly defining a worker’s role, expectations of responsibilities are set. A manager should never assume that his or her team knows exactly what they are expected to do. The manager is responsible for ensuring that his or her workers are aware of their job descriptions. Once this is accomplished, the manager can help team members develop strategies to accomplish their tasks, goals and timelines of completion. If a manager has not clearly defined his or her team members’ roles, conflict can arise between employees about their responsibilities.

Clarity in operating procedures:

It is important to have a clear and well-documented operating procedure for the employees to follow so that they do not waste time having to reinvent the wheel, and there is minimum stress on the employees because the process is already in place. It is the manager’s role to ensure that standard operating procedures are in place for the benefit of his or her employees.

Clearly communicating policies:

If a company’s policies are not clearly communicated to its employees, then misunderstandings and conflict are likely to follow. By communicating clearly, promoting open channels of communication, and engaging in regular communication, a manager stands a better chance to prevent workplace conflict. Not having an effective system of communication in the workplace will cause the development of frustration amongst the workers about their inability to communicate with management.

A manager risks a greater likelihood of stress and conflict developing in the workplace by failing to clearly communicate a company’s policies and objectives, and by failing to define a worker’s responsibilities.

Stitt Feld Handy Group offers training in communication skills, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution for large and small businesses, using the latest adult education techniques. Contact us today to learn more about how to get started.