'A team is as strong as its weakest link'. The strength of any team is in ensuring that all team members work in complete harmony, towards the same goal. A consistent and constant effort is required from all team members to maintain effective working relations and create an atmosphere that encourages productivity.
Staff must treat each other politely and helpfully at all times. If a positive interpersonal relationship exists between all staff members it will be noticed by customers and will ensure that a positive image reflects the outside world.
A well-knit staff will deal promptly with requests to create an efficient, effective work team.
Division of responsibilities and the sharing of the workload in a cooperative team will be that much more efficient and therefore contribute to greater productivity.
It is important to support others in the performance of their work since staff are dependant on one another and cannot perform well in isolation.
The term ‘chain of command’ is often associated with and implies channels of communication. The implication is that orders and information in an organization originate at the top, then proceed toward the bottom from one management level to another without skipping out any levels or crossing over into a different channel of communication. The same procedure would be followed by information, requests, complaints, and suggestions originating at the bottom of the chain of command.
Since authority and responsibility are delegated through channels of communication it is very important to follow the procedures to ensure that all relevant personnel are informed.
It important that people in a chain of command are not left out. This may often result in conflict since such a person would expect to be included in the channel of communication due to their position.
Ignoring channels of communication can often result in people at a more junior level being singled out as a ‘scapegoat’ since management was not aware of decisions and actions carried out by such an individual. Channels of communication are therefore a means of protection and accountability.
Practice being a proactive communicator. Always ensure that you have not been ‘left out of the loop. Do not be afraid to ask questions and follow up. Asking intelligent questions is a sign of efficiency, not incompetence.
Most of the distortion, misunderstandings, and breakdowns occur in vertical communication (communication which moves up and down the hierarchical network).
The ever-increasing size of organizations has meant that the lines of communication have been further and further extended. It is common sense that the more communication “centers” a message has to pass through the greater the chance of distortion or breakdown. The experience in business has been that generally as the size of the organization increases, communication decreases, and morale declines.
Other than trying to improve the communicative ability of all employees, two things can be done to alleviate this situation.
Open channels for feedback should be established. Management should encourage the use of suggestion boxes and letters and the establishment of social and sporting clubs so that the social distances can be bridged.
Policies and procedures for communication should be laid down.
Top management should communicate directly to all staff using the public address system or public notice.
Observing the following principles will improve internal communication:
Very often your immediate superior is your primary link in your organization/department’s channel of communication. It is therefore very important that communication with this individual is effective.
Below see guidelines on communicating effectively with your superior.
Effective listening skills are vital when receiving instructions. You must pay attention, be objective, not make judgments and think about what is being said in case you need to ask any questions. Receiving instructions is not a passive process; it is a two-way exchange.
Act upon the instructions you have been given by your supervisor. Do not waste time before taking action; remember your supervisor will expect the task to be completed within the agreed time frame. If you are having problems completing the task, ask your supervisor for information or advice when you are unsure about matters within your area of responsibility.
When you have carried out the task, you may:
Regularly report your progress on activities to your supervisor. How often is regular? This will depend on what has been agreed to between you and your supervisor. You need to use your judgment because at times it may be necessary to communicate with your supervisor outside of the agreed times, for example:
When you are reporting back to your supervisor show that you have initiative and are capable of making decisions within your scope of responsibility by:
You can keep your supervisor informed either orally or in writing. The method that you use will depend upon what has been agreed to or organizational procedures
An organization chart maps the hierarchical structure of an organization.
An organization chart allows personnel to see their role in the organization in context. It can be valuable in demonstrating the support systems available to personnel as well as indicating the different channels of communication within the organization. It will therefore serve to effectively highlight each individual’s correct channel of communication.
The success of any organization depends on teamwork.
The reputation of the company often depends on how the staff works together to ensure customer satisfaction.
Effective communication will ensure that any problems will be handled and accommodated efficiently with minimum disruption and wherever possible without the knowledge of the customers.
Staff morale is a very noticeable yardstick of an organization’s efficiency. Staff must be motivated and cooperative to be efficient. Each staff member relies on the cooperation and support of others to fulfill their role efficiently.
The following guidelines are to be kept in mind when dealing with other staff:
Consider all other members of staff as ‘internal customers. This means that a service relationship exists between you.
For your colleagues to perform their jobs effectively, they need your assistance and vice versa.
If you and your colleagues do not give one another the very best service no one will be able to perform their jobs effectively which will result in poor customer service.
Greet colleagues with warmth and friendliness. Rather greet someone too often than not often enough.
Do not judge others, rather focus on listening and make sure you understand your fellow workers. Make sure you:
How you conduct yourself at work and the attitude you display will affect how other team members respond to you. The attitudes and behavior to display include:
Every team member is an individual. They will be different from each other in several ways, for example, some may be argumentative or dominant, and others may be quiet. How you handle your interactions with each member of your team will determine your success as a team member.
The following guidelines should help you work effectively with some of the different types of characters, who may present you with problem behaviors.
Team members may from time to time appear argumentative. When dealing with argumentative team members:
Dominant team members usually take over. They are often the first person to talk and rarely give other people a chance to express their opinion.
When dealing with dominant team members:
Quiet team members are team members who rarely contribute and often appear apart from the group.
When dealing with quiet team members:
Below find tips on communicating properly with staff daily:
Tip #1 - Meet with your subordinates and colleagues on a daily basis.
Tip #2 - Use these daily meeting to discuss any concerns that the staff may have regarding their work.
Tip #3 - Discuss any potential problem areas, conflicts, obstacles, etc.
Tip #4 - Reinforce the idea that customer service is their primary responsibility and objective and that these objectives are most successfully achieved when working toward them as a team
Tip #5 - Disclose any new developments.
Tip #6 - Ask questions and encourage questions from staff to ensure that they understand their responsibilities.
While it may be exciting to have new staff members join a team the reality is that they take a while to settle in. This can hurt the effectiveness of the team. For this reason, other members of staff must takeharing knowledge and experience.
The following tips can be followed to ensure that new staff are effectively introduced into the work environment.
Tip #1 - Make sure the new staff member knows where the staff canteen, change rooms and toilets areas w, ell as any rules relating to visiting these facilities.
Tip #2 - Take every opportunity to mentor the new colleague in new tasks that are required from them.
Tip #3 - Share any information that you may have that will make you new colleague more efficient.
Tip #4 - Give assistance willingly if asked to do so.
Tip #5 - Be friendly and helpful at all times
Tip #6 - Allow the new colleague time to settle before making judgments.
Conflict occurs when there is a disagreement between one or more people with different ideas. Although conflict most often occurs between people, we can also experience internal conflict when we have to make decisions and we don’t know which is the best choice to make.
There are four main types of conflict:
There are many causes of conflict but they can be broadly categorized into three groups. Many conflict situations can involve a combination of two or even three of these groups.
These are normally the easiest to identify and resolve. They occur when two people want the same thing and there is not enough to go around. The resource is probably the first point of contention to be identified in a conflict situation and the heat of the dispute will most often be focussed there. Although the use of the resource may represent the entire problem that is seldom the case.
These refer to the fact that many individuals have many needs such as power, friendship, belonging, and accomplishment. Clashes over these needs are commonly played out over material things. The person, who appears to be upset about the use of a resource, for example, may also be upset about not having the authority or power to decide on who gets to use the resource. Since these motivations are less obvious, disputes of this nature are harder to resolve. If a person is unwilling or unable to express a need, the conflict is unlikely to be resolved.
These are the most difficult to resolve since values are the basis of our belief system. Challenges to our values are challenges to our very selves. We tend to respond to them with the most deep-seated defensiveness and tenacity. In conflicts that involve value differences, it is most difficult to abandon old patterns and choose to make new responses.
There are different strategies for managing conflict and each individual has a personal conflict-handling style. It is possible to change our conflict-handling styles by learning new and more effective ways of managing conflicts. Responses to conflict situations depend on the individual’s goals and the importance of the relationship.
The table below shows five basic strategies that could be used in conflict.
To manage conflict effectively we need special tools. These tools include good communication skills, using group problem solving processes, behaving assertively and working co-operatively together.
Consider the following tips in effective communication:
Tip #1 - Be clear on what you wish to communicate
Tip #2 - Explain completely and concisely
Tip #3 - Ensure that the other party understands you
Tip #4 - Work at understanding them
Tip #5 - Listen carefully to the other party, pay attention to their responses to your messages.
Tip #6 - Try not to get emotional
Tip #7 - Ensure that the receiver has heard your message as you intended and check that you heard what the other person was trying to say.
None assertive behaviobehaviores not expressing your own feelings, needs, ideas and ignoring your t It is very unhealthy as it results in a steady build up of resentment.
Aggressive behavior is exactly the opposite and involves trying to dominate; even humiliating others and bullying them to your way of thinking.
Positive assertive behavior involves expressing your feelings, needs, and ideas and standing up for your rights in a way that does not violate the rights of others.
The following table summarises the possible outcomes of conflict.
Both parties feel that they have lost out, animosity follows, and generally speaking, the conflict is not resolved.
One party is unassertive and allows the other party to win, despite the cost to themselves.
One party forces a solution on another leaving them feeling dejected and defeated
Both parties feel that they have won – this can be achieved through compromise and collaboration.
The following guidelines are useful in dealing with conflict:
The following steps can be followed to complete the Collaborative Problem Solving Outline:
The following steps can be followed to complete the Three-Step Conflict Resolution Procedure:
Complete a Conflict Analysis Map;
Design solution options
Negotiate with third-party negotiation mediation, if necessary.
What are your main time-wasters at work? How can you overcome them?
Efficient time management is essential for every supervisor to ensure that deadlines are met and team goals are achieved.
As a supervisor you not only have to manage your own time, you are responsible to manage others’ time. You are accountable for your team’s time. Supervisors have to ensure the productivity of staff by setting targets and monitoring and following up to check that tasks are on schedule according to the planned time frame.
Priorities and consistency of effort among your entire grlly count.
Below are 6 steps on how to beat the clock:
Set objectives - Surveys done on successful people have shown that they have in common that they all have written goals. Write your goals down, keep them handy and remind yourself of them often. Also, list your long-term goals and goals for the next 6 months.
Know how you spend your time – Complete a time log for a week
Set priorities - Use the 80/20 rule. This is called the Pareto Principle, named after an Italian economist-sociologist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It states that the significant items in a group normally constitute a relatively small portion of the total items in the group. i.e. in a group of items, 80% of the value comes from 20% of the items.
Set priorities- in terms of urgency and importance:
The ABC method:
A = high value
B = medium value
C = low value
The secret is to do the A’s first. Don’t do C’s at the expense of A’s and B’s.
How to differentiate between important and urgent activities (categories of time use):
Important and Urgent
These are tasks that must be done immediately or shortly.
Important but not urgent
These are things that can be done now or later. They are deferrable to a later date.
Urgent but not important
These are those things that clamor for immediate action, but that we would assign a low priority if we examined them objectively
These are those activities that are marginally worth doing.
Anything you feel morally guilty of having done.
Do one major thing at a time, i.e. concentrate your time effort, and resources.
Schedule your work
Delegate - Learn the art of delegation. It is very important. Your team members are there to assist you.
Below are ways to deal with time wasters:
How to handle interruptions
There are three main ways to help control interruptions:
• Try to prevent interruptions that can be foreseen
• Keep interruptions that are inevitable to a minimum.• Shorten interruptions that occur
Make meetings count
Control telephone calls
Many factors contribute to inan individualaningindividualll areas of responsibility. These factors can generally be divided into 2 categories; factors resulting from a lack of training and non-training issues.
In all cases, the staff member needs positive support to rcoovercomech difficulties and obstacles.
Below we highlight a range of difficulties that may affect a staff member meeting their responsibilities. Possible strategies for overcoming such obstacles are also highlighted.
Improve skills and knowledge by staff development and training. This training can take many forms, including mentoring, attending courses and seminars retraining, at a technikon or university etc. Such advice needs to be given by the staff member’s mentor or manager.
Behaviour modification needs to take place. An in-house expert should preferably monitor this.
An improvement of relationships between members working with the individual in conjunction with goal setting and the establishment of incentives should take place. This process must be carefully monitored by the department manager.
Personal skills training should be provided by a counselor. Team building activities conducted by team members should be organized to encourage integration.
The staff member needs to gain clarity from management. All staff members should have a job description in writing.
This is once again a retraining issue. This training could take place in one of the manners discussed earlier:
Demonstration, mentoring, attending courses and seminars retraining, at a technikon or university, etc. Such advice needs to be given by the staff member’s mentor or manager.
Fears, insecurities, conflict, resentment, etc. in the workplace are best solved by a frank and open discussion between the parties concerned and a mediator, if necessary.
Maintaing effective working relationships has proven to imorove production and staff retention. It is upon every manager, supervisor, and staff member to ensure that the work environments conducive for teams to thrive.
How do you maintain effective working relationships at your workplace? Please leave a comment.