||Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson
of Conflict Management
Institutionalizing the use of a Conflict
program in the IT organization through training will provide many
benefits towards decreasing the impact of violence in the
workplace. Anger from employee dismissal and other circumstances is
acted out in behavior such as interpersonal conflict.
In many instances, IT managers are adverse to
conflict resolution either because they do not have the necessary will
to carry it through or they simply do not know how to handle conflicts
in the workplace.
42 percent of a
manager's time is spent on reaching agreement with others when
- Watson, C and
Hoffman, R (1996) "Managers as Negotiators," Leadership Quarterly 7
IT organizations are comprised of a very diverse
conglomeration of support groups. There is a wide variation in
thinking and opinions among IT managers, database administrators, UNIX
administrators, computer programmers, analysts, operators, and network
administrators. Conflict will arise from differences between
individuals and groups, including from the administration and
enforcement of company policies such as termination of employment. Not
only do significant differences exist, but the nature of IT job
responsibilities creates a tense and stressful environment, many times
with the ongoing pressure to keep the IT infrastructure up and running
at peak performance.
Conflict management can provide several benefits
Better understanding between employees of
Building a values-oriented environment.
Reduced tensions and stress.
Diminished occurrence and magnitude of conflict.
Prevention of violence.
There are several steps which IT managers can
implement within their organizations to reduce conflict. Having
in place before serious situations
arise including the firing of employees will provide a solid
foundation for preventing violenceSome suggestions for managing conflict in the
Define, publish, and live a set of values as
defined by the employer to display an example of what is expected by
the entire IT organization.
Make it well known to the IT staff all company
policies regarding unacceptable behavior and the potential
consequences of violations.
Require training for IT professionals regarding
conflict management and interpersonal relations.
IT managers should not enter into romantic
relationships in the workplace. In most cases, it does not work out,
and the interaction at work then becomes awkward and overemotional.
Not only are relationships with unattached co-workers dangerous, but
getting involved with employees who have significant others
escalates the potential for conflict dramatically.
Management should set the example for the IT
organization by staying calm and composed in all situations,
especially stressful situations such as terminating an employee.
Employees will be watching for how their leaders handle tension in
the workplace, and what behavior is acceptable even with stated
company policies in place.
Maintain privacy in all dealings surrounding any
conflict associated with the dismissal of employees. Conflict may
develop at any time leading up to, during or after the release of
the employee. An employee that is embarrassed by other employees
overhearing the firing or being told details of the firing is likely
to become upset, possibly even confrontational.
Encourage open communications by all computer
professionals. Too many times opinions are withheld from the
manager, while at the same time the disgruntled employee is
complaining and wreaking havoc in the background. An open-door
policy should be emphasized, regular one-on-one meetings held with
the staff, and an anonymous suggestion box made available to provide
ample opportunity for information exchange and feedback. Managers
should not be afraid to tell an employee when they are out of line
and need to improve their behavior. Individuals that communicate
well should be thanked publicly at team meetings, for instance, to
show management's approval of such behavior. If open communications
have been practiced regularly in the past; then chances are better
that healthy communications will also be exhibited during and after
an employment termination meeting
Address issues at the first signs of conflict.
An IT manager may notice underlying tensions between their staff or
even outright aggressiveness and to ignore the situation would only
serve to let the tension grow. Once the employee has been informed
of their firing, the IT manager should be actively observant of that
individual's language, interactions, and work performance.
The IT manager should periodically review their
own management style and relationships with other employees,
especially their immediate staff. He or she should pay attention to
their own performance reviews from their boss and the feedback
provided by employees during one-on-one meetings. The manager must
be willing to make any necessary personal adjustments that may be
creating situations of conflict within the organization.
Always get both sides of the story regarding
conflict and more if there are witnesses involved. When the IT
employee is being told of their dismissal, having a witness present
will provide another account of any conflict that occurs, at least
during that engagement.
A good technique for
regaining the advantage during conflict resolution is to answer a
question with another question that is more in line with your
position and the direction that you want the process to progress.
The above book excerpt is from:
Firing Computer Professionals
manager Guide for Terminating "With Cause"