In retail environments, where commissions are up for grabs, competition between salespeople can sometimes go from sportsmanlike to unsportsmanlike. Do you have strategies you can turn to when workplace tension goes up at your store?
Paul Davis, conflict management expert and business consultant, offers six ways to handle conflict before it spreads and affects your company morale on a broader scale:
1. Consider conflict an opportunity, not a curse.
“Conflict is a character building and interpersonal communications improvement opportunity, ” says Davis. “We all have blind spots, preconceived ideas, personal peculiarities and tendencies that can make us hard to deal with at times. Being able to identify other character types and communication styles is beneficial, though it may not always be easy. ”
Davis suggests learning to respond to conflict naturally and openly, as it disarms the aggressor and shows you to be the rational party. Doing otherwise only further antagonizes the aggressor. Listen and seek information related to the true nature of the conflict.
“You will find that what seemed to be the initial problem was merely superficial. ”
2. Respect and don’t reject people, regardless of your disagreement.
Davis says it’s important to separate the person from the behavior and be sensitive to different backgrounds, upbringings and environments.
“We are all continually changing and evolving. Give people room to grow as they come to a greater level of self-awareness. As you do, and they discover how gracious you’ve been, they will become the most loyal employees or co-workers you will ever have. This is true empowerment. ”
3. Acknowledge and confess any contributory negligence.
“Conflict always begins within, ” says Davis. “We must judge ourselves first. We often judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. We don’t typically use fair weights, standards and measures when we judge others. ”
A little self examination can reveal that we may have contributed to the conflict by either saying something or not, he adds. Neglecting to recognize employees for a job well done can leave them feeling underappreciated.
On the flip side, you can also neglect to confess your wrongdoings in the workplace. Lead by example and be the first to point out your mistakes; take responsibility for your actions. “Suddenly, people will begin to humble themselves and confess their own faults. When this happens, employee morale and productivity will skyrocket. ”
4. Formulate what you want to say, and how you will say it.
“Remember it’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it, ” notes Davis. The manner and tone you take will determine how your employees will respond. Receiving criticism is never easy, but it can be bearable if it is delivered constructively, kindly and sincerely.
Davis also advises to lessen the blow by starting with a compliment before dishing out the constructive criticism. “Start soft by affirming a person’s good qualities before proceeding to find fault and correct. ”
5. Avoid premature assumptions.
Jumping to conclusions can be dangerous, as it can damage morale and create distrust. Don’t take hearsay for truth. “Instead, go to the source and have an open conversation, ” says Davis. “Get things out in the open and speak face-to-face respectfully. ”
6. Speak with positive expectation believing the best.
“Stating your feelings with positive expectation pulls people to the level of performance you desire, ” he says.
“For example, say something like ‘William, you’ve always done a great job of giving your all in every account. As of late, however, you seem to not quite be yourself. Is there anything I can do to help? I want you to see you succeed and be your personal best. Know I am fully committed to you as you are to this company. ’
“Affirming a person and your expectations of their success will endear people to you and cause them to live up to your wishes. ”
Following these basic steps can help you keep an open mind when dealing with conflict in a retail setting. Taking a step back from a situation, to understand the issues at play and to evaluate how one employee’s personality may be clashing with that of another.
“Sometimes, you have to accept people as they are, realizing they may never change, ” says Davis. “Employ your sense of humor and unconditional acceptance of others, and you will get far greater results and work productivity at the end of the day. ”
*To read more about Maintaining and Improving Workplace Morale, check out the following articles from iQmetrix News & Views (http://newsletter.iqmetrix.com/ ):
Reinforcement: The Key to Effective Retail Training
How to Motivate Salespeople after a Busy Holiday Season
Four Steps to Grow Company Leaders
Understanding Different Employee Attitudes
Creating the Right Commission Structures for Your Salespeople
How to Retain Employees in a Retail Environment
Motivating Salespeople: Techniques from AllBusiness.com
Allan Pulga is the Staff Writer for iQmetrix Software Development Corp. He edits the company's corporate documents, writes a bi-weekly newletter sent to company clients (called iQmetrix News & Views), and participates in creating advertising copy and various promotional material.
Allan has a B. J. (Bachelor's of Journalism) and also a B. Sc.in Biology, both from the University of Regina (Canada). He has previously worked in a number of media and communications positions, including stints in newspaper reporting and public relations.