Your Manager May Be Wasting 7 Hours Per Week Doing This...

your manager It seems that a number of us are not carrying our mothers' advice to "play well with others" from the school yard into the workplace. A recent study revealed that managers say they spend, on average, 18 percent of their time, which comes out to more than seven hours a week or nine weeks per year -- intervening in employee disputes.

"Although staff management is part of the job for supervisors, too much time spent handling disputes gets in the way of business priorities and often signals a larger issue needs to be addressed," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources KitFor Dummies, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "For example, being chronically short-staffed can cause friction among employees, as can an overly competitive work environment."

Messmer added, "Workplace conflicts can never be fully eliminated, but there are steps managers can take to foster greater team harmony." Here are some suggestions:

  1. Know when to step in. You don't want to interject every time a minor issue arises, but you can't afford to turn a blind eye to problems that jeopardize the group's output. Before morale and productivity are impacted significantly, work with those involved to identify the reason for the conflict, clear the air and determine ways to address future disagreements.
  2. Don't let one bad apple spoil the bunch. When friction is clearly stemming from the actions of a single individual, remind that person that the ability to collaborate and treat coworkers with respect is a requirement of the job.
  3. Help employees get to know each other. Provide opportunities for your staff to interact in non-work activities, such as lunches or volunteer activities; familiarity can breed greater understanding.
  4. Reward positive role models. Dole out praise, promotions and choice assignments to individuals who contribute to a supportive work environment. Recognizing staff for being team players sends a clear message that how they interact with others is as important as their job performance.
  5. Make good hiring choices from the start. Hiring individuals with excellent interpersonal skills who are a good fit with your organization's culture will reduce the potential for future conflicts.

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