The Real Cost of Workplace Conflict: What Employers Need to Know!

Gallup’s 2008 study entitled “State of the American Workplace” and another by the Consulting Psychologist Press on “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It To Thrive” revealed some startling facts that caused American businesses to stand up and take notice.   Here are the top five reasons for workplace conflict…

  1. personality clashes – 49%
  2. stress – 34%
  3. workload – 33%
  4. poor leadership – 29%
  5. lack of honesty – 26%

    And, here are a few more alarming stats:

  • 25 percent of employees said that avoiding conflict led to sickness or absence from work.
  • Nearly 10 percent reported that workplace conflict led to project failure.
  • More than one-third said that conflict resulted in someone leaving the company, either through firing or quitting.
  • Replacing an employee costs 150 to 200 percent more than that employee’s salary and benefits. Losing even a mid-level employee making $30,000 a year could cost your company $70,000 or more to replace.

    Oftentimes, conflicts between people are less overt, such as subtle forms of harassment or bullying. “Subtle harassment and bullying is a systems problem often supported unknowingly by management” which is in direct conflict with California laws AB 1825 and AB 2053!

So, what can be done about it?

  • Hire SMART to avoid conflict. Ask good questions to identify the “one person who causes conflict” BEFORE hiring.
  • Take a look at your organization’s culture. How might it actually encourage conflict by how it’s set up and who is leading. This is the first step towards fixing it.
  • Change is possible if senior leadership is absolutely committed to making changes.
  • Real conversations about the desired cultural norms are a MUST and steps implemented on how to embrace people’s differences.

These types of conversations take time, energy and effort–but compared to the real costs of workplace conflict, finding healthy resolutions is a both-gain situation for everyone.

Consulting Psychology Press, Inc. (2008) found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. While this amount of time might not seem like much, the cost of this lost time is staggering!  Based on an average hourly wage of $17.95, this amounts to $359 billion in paid hours, or the equivalent of 385 million working days, across the nation.  Simply speaking, this is $50.96 per week per employee, or $2,613.20 per year.  Again, this may not sound like much but if you have ten employees in your organization embroiled in conflict, this is costing you $26,132.00 per year. And, if left untouched, this increases to $130,676 over a five year period.  I don’t know about you but $100K+ is a lot of money to lose in an organization with nothing productive to show for it.

You might say, 2.8 hours…so what?  Well, this is time not spent doing the job employees were hired to do.  Instead, it is time gossiping, protecting turf, retaliating, getting people to take sides, planning defenses, navigating around the drama and taking up time from management.   Talk about a management nightmare!  Is this how you want to live your work life?

So, what can employers do?  Time and time again, five key factors emerge:

  • We can no longer afford to ignore personality clashes…it is just too costly.  A  quick workplace climate study is the best place to start.
  • Work on building a workplace culture where each and every employee, at EVERY level, is held accountable for addressing conflict at the earliest level possible. This means teaching them effective communication and conflict management skills.
  • Look at differences in communication and conflict management styles, particularly at the leadership levels. Teach people to deal with generational and cultural differences, values and approaches to communication. Educate people around gender differences (yes, men and women DO communicate differently).
  • Hire the right managers! Too often, people get promoted based on technical skills or rewards in their career path, not for their people management skills.  These types of managers unintentionally become our “bad bosses”  who erode morale, create legal risks, and cause good employees to leave good organizations.
  • Invest in leadership management for developing effective people management skills.  AND, hold managers accountable for a motivated and efficient workforce is the best way for making miserable employees not so miserable. Transform bad bosses into good bosses by equipping them with the skills to lead employees in ways that increase retention, revenues and rewards for the company.  Developing action plans that involve training, coaching and follow-up ensures that managers achieve this while turning around profitability.

About the author:  This article was first published in April 2014 at www.relationships-at-work.com  by Dr. Debra Dupree, Workplace Psychologist and Mediator.  Dr. Deb’s 2014 doctoral dissertation addressed the Psychology of Good Bosses vs. Bad Bosses, what leads to bad bossing, the impact on employees, and what can be done about it.  As this article suggests, the disruption of workplace conflict is significant and the potential to give rise to harassment in the workplace and abusive conduct is real.  We revisit this issue as we are in a year of compliance for manager and supervisor training required by two California laws, AB 1825 (2004) and AB 2053 (2014), for employers with 50 or more employees.  Take action now and contact Dr. Dupree at 1-800-743-1973 or dr.dupree@relationships-at-work.com to be in compliance and stop bad behavior from ruining your organization!

Avoiding a Bad Boss Reputation and turning into an Unbelievable Leader

Becoming a STAR in Leadership – a September presentation to STAR San Diego Members at the University Club, La Jolla Sheraton, and The Crossings in Carlsbad.  Click here to learn more…

People are people whether at work or at home and relationships ARE work.  They’re like a garden…needing preparation, maintenance, nurturing and and space to grow.  My passion goes all the way back to my childhood growing up in a family that didn’t do well with conflict.  I’ve spent my entire career working with people in relationships but got curious about how good people end up as bad bosses.  So I went back to school to learn more…and started looking for trouble!

Gallup took an in-depth look at the “State of the Workplace”  and found that employee disengagement costs American businesses $359 billion across the nation!

  • Do you know that nearly half of all conflicts at work are directly related to personality clashes…
  • Three out of ten of those conflicts comes from bad bossing.
  • Good people leave bad bossing, not good organizations!

As I look across the room, I see a wealth of experience, wisdom and leadership…so let’s think back to a time in our careers where we were dealing with a bad boss and the impact it had on us.   With a show of hands, how many of you have worked for a BIG BAD BOSS?

Now, let me ask you this…who is or has been a bad boss at some point in their lives?

What are some words to describe Good Bosses?   When you think of Bad Bosses, what words come up?  …quite a difference, right?  Who want to be identified with these kinds of negative words? But do others perceive us this way and we don’t even know it.  Do you really know the impact of your leadership style?

Think about the kinds of conflicts you’ve experienced…firsthand or among your clients.

  • What’s really at the heart of those conflicts?
  • It’s really about understanding how we come across to others…how we impact…and how we can provoke an emotional reaction.
  • It takes courage and curiosity to really understand the emotional intelligence of how we engage.
  • It’s the power of connections that pulls people and projects together.

I GO LOOKING FOR TROUBLE and here’s how I do it.

1)         Heineken contacted me in 2013…they were at their wits end after a year of trying to resolve a conflict internally between two top account managers.  The conflict had grown so difficult that it was impacting one of their big accounts.  One or both of the employees was going to have to go if things didn’t change. In just 3 months through coaching and preparing for mediation, we were able to unravel a year of hostility.

2)         Last year, a trusted colleague called upon me to help one of his longtime friends and progenitor of a family-owned business.  Revenues were down after the recession, power struggles had broken out, financial choke-holds put in place, and family members and employees were not talking.  By helping Mom and Dad look at their own behavior, they were able to recognize the impact they had on the family dynamics and we were able to come up with options for restructuring the organization in ways that better met the family members’ needs.

3)         A couple of years ago, I worked with a 3rd generation family-owned business.  Dad hit 60 and wanted to bring in his stepson and 2 daughters, all in their very early 20’s, into the family business.  Great idea but riddled with family dynamics.  Mom found me out of frustration with the intense sibling rivalry being carried out in the workplace…Dad felt immobilized to do  much about it.  Within five months, we were able to define roles and responsibilities, establish boundaries between appropriate workplace behavior and unhealthy family dynamics, establish Dad’s leadership in the business as well as mediate through some of their differences.

Who has experienced something situations like these?  Let’s see a show of hands.  These conversations DO take time, energy and effort–but compared to the real costs of sticky situations, it’s a small investment. That’s what we can do together…we can be on the watch, looking for trouble that gets in the way of profitable relationships and begin to turn things around.

Oh!…remember your phone leaning on the stand in front of you…this is my gift to you…when things get messy…Call me to take the next step in developing UNBELIEVABLE LEADERSHIP in all that you do!  With a little help bad bosses can be great leaders.

Crushing Conflicts to Boost Your Bottomline

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Women Lead Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Relationships are at the core of everything we do. And when conflict arises in the workplace it can have a toll, not only on our emotional capacity, but also the bottomline results of the business. Studies show that conflict effects productivity, synergy, culture, and turnover. As the leader of a team, how do you avoid this? And how do you effectively manage conflict when you see it growing in your environment before it becomes detrimental? Listen in and learn from an expert in the field!

Join us for Women Leading the Way Radio as we interview Debra Dupree, PsyD Founder of Relationships-At-Work Consulting. With over 20 years of experience in leadership development, corporate training, and a doctorate degree in psychology she delivers lessons on the school of hard knocks and how to turn employees into great leaders. Debra will share with us her experience, techniques, and philosophy on how to implement and maximize business based strategies that will give new life to your business.

Unbelievable Leadership: Keys to Avoiding a Bad Boss Reputation

People are people whether at work or at home. And, their relationships ARE work.  They’re like a garden…needing preparation, maintenance, nurturing and space to grow.  So what goes wrong when people have differences that get in the way of getting along?

My passion for understanding people goes back to my child hood growing up in a family that didn’t do well with conflict.  I’ve spent my entire career working with people in relationships but got curious about how good people end up as bad bosses.  So I went back to school to learn more…and started looking for leaders in trouble!  Now, my goal is to bring peace to leaders in conflict!

Gallup (2008) took an in-depth look at the “State of the Workplace” and what they found was startling!

  • Do you know that nearly half of all conflicts at work are directly related to personality clashes?
  • Three out of ten of those conflicts come from bad bossing.
  • More than half of all employees, at any level, really don’t care about their jobs, much less the organization they work for.
  • This means they are disengaged from what’s really going on!

Why does this matter?  GALLUP estimates that this costs American businesses $359 billion across the nation!

·         When employees are unhappy, they leave.  Do you know that replacing an employee costs 150 to 200 percent of that person’s salary and benefits?  Losing even a mid-level employee making $30,000 a year could cost your company $45-60K or more to replace.  Good people leave good organizations because of bad bossing!

 ·         Yet, keeping a dysfunctional relationship at work can be even more costly…leading to lost productivity, sabotage, poor quality, and lawsuits for hostile workplace environments and many more!

So, think about the kinds of conflicts you’ve experienced in your life…what’s really at the heart of those conflicts?  It’s oftentimes about differences in perception.  It’s about understanding how we come across to others…how we impact others…and how our own behavior can provoke an emotional reaction in others.

It takes courage and curiosity to really understand the emotional intelligence of how we engage.  It’s the power of connections that pulls people and projects together. The quality of relationships…feeling trusted and appreciated… is what deepens the connection and motivates us to perform.  That’s what Unbelievable Leadership™ is all about!

Here are some examples of how things can be turned around:

1)      Heineken contacted me in 2013…they were at their wits end after a year of trying to resolve a conflict internally between two top account managers.  The conflict had grown so difficult that it was impacting one of their big accounts.  One or both of the employees was going to have to go if things didn’t change. In just 3 months through coaching and preparing for mediation, we were able to unravel a year of hostility.

2)      Last year, a trusted colleague called upon me to help one of his longtime friends and progenitor of a family-owned business.  Revenues were down after the recession, power struggles had broken out, financial choke-holds put in place, and family members and employees were not talking.  By helping Mom and Dad look at their own behavior, they were able to recognize the impact they had on the family dynamics and we were able to come up with options for restructuring the organization in ways that better met the family members’ needs.

3)      A couple of years ago, I worked with a 3rd generation family-owned business.  Dad hit 60 and wanted to bring in his three adult children, all in their very early 20’s, into the family business.  Great idea but riddled with family conflict.  Mom found me out of frustration with the intense sibling rivalry being carried out in the workplace…Dad felt immobilized to do much about it.  Within five months, we were able to define roles and responsibilities, establish boundaries between appropriate workplace behavior and unhealthy family dynamics, establish Dad’s leadership in the business as well as mediate through some of their differences.

These conversations take time, energy and effort.  Compared to the real costs of sticky situations, it’s a small investment. When there’s trouble that gets in the way of profits and good working relationships, there are strategies for turning things around.  The keys to Unbelievable Leadership™ start with courage and curiosity, self-examination of one’s leadership style, looking at how one presents and impacts others, building emotional intelligence, expanding awareness around cultural/gender/generational differences, and developing skills to navigate through conflict.

When this happens, we’re on the way to an engaged workforce with unbelievable results!

Connected Women of Influence

radio show

Women Leading the Way radio show is dedicated to showcasing successful women CEO’s, executives, authors, owners, professionals and companies who support professional women on a variety of business-related topics.

Women Leading the Way is a radio show focused on HOW women lead in business and the workplace. Learn how they became leaders. Find out what drives them to succeed and lead. Learn how today’s female leaders stay ahead of the curve and drive change and innovation!

The show airs live every Friday at 2pm Pacific Time and every Monday at 9am Pacific Time with guest hosts. The recorded shows can be found at: http://connectedwomenofinfluence.com/category/online-radio/

The Power of Connections: Emotional Intelligence at Work

Check Out Dr. Dupree’s interview with Michelle Bergquist of Connected Women of Influence on Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Women Lead Radio.

 

Three Ways to be the Smartest, Most Respected Leader

A 2002 study by Gallup revealed two amazing things about what most employees want in the workplace.  Surprisingly, it’s not about money and it’s not about title.  Instead, it’s pretty simple:  1) to be called by their name, and 2) to be acknowledged.

As a corporate trainer and workplace mediator, these findings intrigued me.  If two simple things like this were the most important to employees, what were managers and leaders doing, or not doing?  What was getting in the way of employees being more productive, being satisfied at work, and growing the bottom line?  In a 2008 study by Consulting Psychologist Press (CPP) called “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses can Harness it to Thrive,” fourteen top reasons for employee dissatisfaction and conflict in the workplace surfaced across nine major countries.  Here are the top six:

  1. Personality clashes/warring egos – 49%
  2. Stress – 34%
  3. Heavy workloads/inadequate resources – 33%
  4. Poor leadership from the top of the organization – 39%
  5. Lack of honesty and openness – 26%
  6. Poor line management – 23%

What does this mean for leaders?  Based on my 20+ years of experience training and mediation workplace issues, I say that employees feel disconnected from their bosses and from each other.  And, people at any level of employment seem to fear confronting difficulties with others, fearing retaliation, job loss, or public humiliation.  People often lack the skills to effectively communicate through difficult situations or don’t feel it’s a safe environment.

TIP #1:  Engage your employees in interactive, fun team-building training for today’s multi-generational workforce.  Actively learn and apply emotional intelligence in the workplace, powerful and persuasive communication skills, and strategies for managing conflict and differences among people.

Leaders often think their employees have the skills to resolve differences, or at least bring them to their attention, but they don’t.  Too often, leaders are viewed as unapproachable (“my way or the highway” kind of thinking), not really interested in them as people, or are not viewed as trustworthy.  And, leaders tend to view soft-skills training as a poor investment.  But not engaging employees in fun activities outside the day-to-day work routine has costly side effects (read on).

When leading training, I do some things at the start of every program to charge up energy, warm up the environment, and to show how easy it is to connect with those around you.  It’s phenomenal to watch the shift in people’s demeanor, how their faces light up when they make a connection, and how much more engaged they are.  It’s what I call “going below the water line” to demonstrate how “the power of connection” can energize an organization.  The excitement and enthusiasm generated in a group of people is infectious.  It sets the tone for the program and allows us to go places where we might not otherwise venture.

TIP #2:  Do your part in knowing your employees, reaching out and engaging them regularly and often.

Putting strategies like this one to work for you helps make connections among your people, makes you seem more approachable, bolsters your credibility and leadership. Why is this so important?  Another study by Gallup in 2008 called “Turning Around Employee Turnover” showed how critical the concept of engagement is to the health and wealth of an organization.  Surprisingly, Gallup found that only 20% of employees are truly engaged.  Another 20% are fully disengaged.  This means a whopping 60% of the workforce is moderately engaged!  The financial impact of engaged vs. disengaged means $450-600 million lost to American businesses annually.  The ability to engage employees is a skill often overlooked or considered unimportant.   If appearing disinterested or self-absorbed, the mood or attitude of the leader is contagious throughout the organization and becomes a model to others on how to behave.  Employees tend to view their leaders as either an ongoing source of inspiration at work or a hassle to be avoided.  Which one are you?

This notion of the mood of a leader as contagious comes from Daniel Goleman’s “Primal leadership:  The hidden driver of great performance,”  This ties into the Gallup study where they found good bosses are aware of this and actively connect with their employees at all levels.

TIP #3:  Commit to your own professional leadership development: communicate effectively, put your emotional intelligence to work, and effectively resolve conflict at the lowest level.  Be sure that you are not implicitly condoning bad bossing behavior among your management team.

As a leader, we owe it to ourselves and our employees to take a good hard look at how we impact others.  We also owe it to all involved to take a good hard look at how engaged the workforce is, how much is the lack of engagement costing us, and what can be done about it.  Here are four key cost factors to look to see if bad bossing is happening at your organization:

1)  flattened or declining profits,

2) high turnover or unanticipated departures of good employees,

3) increased absenteeism at any level of employment, and

4) increased use of health and/or EAP benefits.

So, if this is going on in your organization, it’s time to take action.  You have tremendous influence and impact on others and in ways that impact the financial, emotional and physical health of your organization.  So connect with your employees and see what a difference you can make!

Do this exercise for a quick look at the impact of good bossing vs. bad bossing:

  1. Pull out a sheet of paper and write down on the left side 3-5 words that describe someone you regard as a great boss or leader.
  2. On the right side of the paper, write down 3-5 words that describe the worst boss you’ve ever had.
  3. What do you notice?

If you’re like most people who engage in this little exercise, you’ll see some stark differences with positive, inspiring words on the left and negative, uninspiring (even derogatory) words on the right.  Look at these two lists…where do you fall?  Where do you want to be?  Most of us want to be that inspiring role model but seldom do we realize how we fail to deliver.  Seldom do we admit or care how we impact others as our goal is to simply get the job done (i.e. the sale, the project, or the deadline).  When we don’t care, we tread a thin line of appearing as a bad boss.

Just what is bad bossing?  Bad bossing is someone who lacks awareness or doesn’t care about the impact of his/her behavior on others, how it demotivates not motivates, how it demoralizes not inspires, and how it make employees disengage rather than engage. Unfortunately, as the Gallup poll also reveals, “bad bossing” is growing, not declining.  Which side are you on?

Get your own Manager Makeover and goof-proof your leadership style!

Authored by Dr. Debra Dupree, the 3D experience.   

Debra is speaker and author, a business and conflict coach, credentialed mediator, and a licensed psychotherapist.

Debra’s intrigue with the effects of leadership on employee performance led to her doctoral dissertation in 2014 on the “Psychology of Good Bosses versus Bad Bosses:  An Examination of Attachment Orientation, Leadership Styles and the Neuroscience Behind Behavior” as part of her graduation requirements at Ryokan College in Los Angeles.