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Diffusing Tension in the Workplace

Resolve conflict and bring peace to the work world

The workplace is complicated. It doesn’t matter if you work on an assembly line, type away at a cubicle, make cold calls in a call center, or take customer orders at a dinner table; you always deal with other people.

We’re all human and we have bad days. And sometimes you might do something inadvertently to make someone’s day worse. It could be a miscommunication via email, perhaps you chew loudly, or maybe there’s a scheduling conflict you just can’t agree on. These little things add up and suddenly there’s tension between the two of you.

Getting rid of that tension is one of the most important workplace soft skills. An employee who can effectively resolve conflict is priceless. So, how is this accomplished?

There are five main styles for managing conflict, according to Thomas, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann originators of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The key is to figure out the right mix of styles for any given situation, and recognize your coworker’s preferred conflict management style.

Here are those given conflict management styles, as outlined by SourcesOfInsight.com.

  1. Accommodating

Think of this as killing your enemy with kindness.

Basically, if accommodating is your style of choice, your tendency is to give into the other person’s desires without making sure you get what you want. Maybe you think your boss’ idea is less than great, but don’t tell them because that would make waves.

Although it might sound cowardly on paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the accommodating style. All styles are valid. For example, it’s usually better to defer to those with more experience when you’re new to the job.

  1. Avoiding 

With this style, you avoid conflict at all costs. You never win arguments and prefer to stay out of the combat zone entirely. You don’t want to say no so you end up saying nothing. Think of this as the “let well enough alone” mentality.

Avoidance is a great for when emotions are running high and you need time to think, when you know you can’t win, or just don’t feel like the situation is worth the effort. Why engage when there will be minimal gains?

  1. Collaborating

Think of this as the “win-win” scenario. You want to work with your coworker in order to achieve common ground and for everyone to get what they want.

This is a great conflict resolution style when everyone is already on the same page. You trust each other, value teamwork,  say what you mean, and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings. It’s not a great choice when emotions are running high or people’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.

  1. Competing

This is the “might makes right” mentality. You want to get what you want no matter what, and the opposing side’s wishes aren’t important.

Again, this sounds like the angry boss who intimidates his direct reports into getting something done. In that case, it’s not the best decision. But if you’re an accountant on a deadline and someone on another team is trying to tell you how to do your job, competing is a perfect response. You know your job better than someone in a different department, and don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings.

  1. Compromising

Think of this as standard negotiating procedure. The “give and take” approach. You and your coworker both work toward a solution by giving things up until common ground is reached.

The main problem with this one is that it takes time and isn’t affective when someone is unwilling to give anything up. That means it’s best used when you need a temporary solution or when both sides have important goals. However, beware: compromising can frequently be the result when collaborating is the better choice because it’s easier to get done. But if everyone can get what they want with a bit of hard work, why not go that route?

If you’re partial to any of these conflict resolution tactics, ask yourself if you’re trying the same solution in every situation and not getting the results you need. If you are, you might want to explore other methods to get rid of the problem.

Have you ever had to solve a workplace dispute? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

Poll Question: What Does Flexible Work Mean for You?

In April, we asked what you value as the most important non-health related benefit from employers. A flexible work schedule was the top choice, garnering 17% of the vote.

But “flexible work” means something different for everyone. Gary might prefer more vacation time, while Marsha wants to work remotely. Kimberly, on the other hand, just wants to leave work an hour later so she can sleep in every morning.

We want to hear from you.

What’s your personal definition of “flexible work?”

 

Why You Should Always Follow Up After an Interview Offer

It’s just professional!

You spent hours job searching and now you’ve received a few different requests for interviews with companies. However, you’ve decided that one of the jobs isn’t for you. Maybe you get busy and forget to call them back, or perhaps you are simply no longer interested in the position. Regardless of reason, the result is the same: you never got back with them.

This is never a good idea. Why?

Networking

Networking doesn’t have to mean schmoozing at parties. It’s your network of friends, family, and contacts. If you’ve spoken or met with someone in person previously, it’s much more likely that they’ll end up vouching for you during an interview.

Believe it or not, this can include past interviewers or recruiters. Just because a job isn’t right for you now doesn’t mean that something else won’t pop up in the future. Repeatedly interviewing with a company for different positions shows your interest in the company and its culture. Failing to show up for an interview without notification or never telling your contact whether you accept an interview makes you look unprofessional. And that reputation could easily spread through your network.

Reputation

If you’re interviewing with multiple companies in an industry, odds are that you might end up seeing a recruiter or interviewer again once you’re hired at a different company. It could be at a networking event, or they might even end up joining your company!

The point is, you never know when that person might show up again. And you don’t want them to remember you as the person that didn’t follow up after an interview was offered. Never burn bridges.

They Might Up Their Offer

If you receive multiple job offers, don’t make any decisions without really weighing your options. If the salary or pay rate for one job is higher at first, that doesn’t mean a different company won’t be willing to make a counteroffer when you notify them about the situation. You’ll never know if you don’t follow up with each company.

Be Easy to Get Ahold Of

Maybe your failure to follow-up was simply due to forgetfulness. That’s not so bad right? Wrong. You should put multiple notifications in your phone, or have sticky notes around the house. That next phone call could have been your dream job. But recruiters will only chase you around so much. If you’re already missing what are basically deadlines now, recruiters won’t see you as a prime candidate for the actual job.

Do you always follow up after interviews? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments section below!

National Interview Day is Today! 3 Ways to Prepare

Looking for a great job? Come see Express Today

Happy National Interview Day! Express Employment Professionals is excited to celebrate this day with you, so come by and learn about the jobs available near you.

To prepare, here are a few common questions from our job seekers that our recruiters have shared insight into in previous articles.

  1. I’ve been asked the following: “Tell me about your experiences, specifically, how do you attribute your successes?” What are good answers?

The answer to this question is going to depend on your individual experiences. There aren’t any specific “good answers” our recruiters can provide here, since everyone is different. However, there are a few topics you can cover and adapt to your personal circumstances.

“I think good answers are ones that are quantifiable! For example, an accounts receivable person could say that they were successful in their last role by cleaning up aging reports and collecting over $1 million in 2016.”—Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

  1. Why do companies require a college degree when it isn’t necessary for the job?

Many companies use a college degree as a baseline. Sometimes a degree is indicative of passion and hard work. However, you might be able to make up for the lack of a degree in other ways.

“Sometimes, this is a company policy. I tell people to never let it deter you in applying. Many clients will take on-the-job experience in lieu of a degree.”—Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

“Some positions may require a degree for specialized positions, for example, a mechanical engineer. For other positions, completing a degree signals to an employer that you are a person who is determined to see a task through and committed to doing so.”—Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

  1. What behaviors are recruiters and hiring managers looking for in an interview?

Although much of the interview focuses on testing your hard skills (your job experience and abilities), your soft skills are being tested as well. How do you handle stress? Do you make the proper amount of eye contact? How does your personality fit in with the company culture? Interviewers look at certain cues for insight on how you might function as an employee.

“I recruit primarily on the industrial side, so I look for behaviors that indicate that the individual can handle the position. For example, if someone can physically do the job, can understand the industry terminology I use, can fill out their own paperwork, etc.”—John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY

Apply now to join your local Express Employment Professionals office for National Interview Day on Aug. 9, 2018. Applying online will expedite the interview process and allow us to schedule a time for you to interview.

Express can help you find the type of job that fits for your needs and abilities, and you’ll never pay a fee for our services and support.

Contact a local Express office or register online today!

Click here for more information regarding National Interview Day at Express.

Do you have any questions about National Interview Day? Let us know in the comments section below.

Safety Month: Forklift Safety

We’re back to wrap up National Safety Month with one last set of tips.

Getting your forklift certification is something worth celebrating. Forklifts are great tools that allow you to do things you could never accomplish alone. However, improper use of these warehouse workhorses could result in injury or even death.

Every three days, someone in the United States is killed in a forklift-related accident. You can avoid this terrible outcome by practicing proper forklift safety procedures. Need a reminder? Check out this handy infographic below.

[Download a PDF of this poster here.]

On the Job Podcast – Entrepreneurial Dreams: Passion in Puns

In this episode of On the Job, we hear about Merrily Grashin, whose career began in New York City, doodling images and writing clever puns about the world that surrounded her while waitressing and bartending. Encouraged by the people she met along the way, she used her natural skill as an artist to launch her own greeting card and print business.

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts or visit ExpressPros.com/Podcast.

Interviews: Proving You’re a Teammate Worth Hiring

Wondering what it takes to thrive in the workplace?

You’re the perfect job candidate. Your resume is chock full of keywords and metrics showing you know what you’re doing. Perhaps you’ve increased ROI by 40%, averaged seventy words-per-minute, or mastered a certain software program.

These are all hard skills, abilities and experiences you may frequently see as job requirements. Measurable skills you can test for. You’re probably thinking, “if hard skills exist, soft skills must exist too, right?”

You’re 100% correct. Soft skills are about working well with others in a workplace environment. Being able to deal with difficult co-workers or knowing how to cooperate with multiple team members to reach a deadline—all are considered soft skills.

Soft skills are important because you must have them to succeed. Hard skills can get you in the door, but they’re just a baseline—soft skills are what allow you to move up the ladder by collaborating with others.

These include:

Communication Skills

The capability to not only express yourself in multiple ways, but also to listen and persuade others.

Being a Team Player

The capacity to work well with others through an understanding of the big picture.

Having a Strong Work Ethic

The ability to work hard and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.

Being Flexible

Being able and willing to change course on the fly as the situation calls for.

Having a Positive Attitude

Keep your conversation and attitude optimistic and light to inspire and help others.

In the following video, provided by Express Employment Professionals, here’s a look at the top soft skills employers look for.


What are your questions about soft skills in your workplace? Let us know in the comments below!