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I've been reading a Team Building book by William Dyer, and part of it is about Staff Conflict, and how at times it gets to the stage where everyone has to sit down as a group; be honest with one another and thrash things out themselves.

 

I'm not talking about important issues such as planning, or observations; or heaven forbid the children. No - in my setting I have very young (female) staff who are rather bitchy and love a good old moan and a gossip - generally about 1 another. It has now got to the point where this is their prime objective!!!

 

They come to me regualrly, and share their concerns, and I have spent a lot of time dealing with issues and supporting them - before off they go, and find something - or rather someone else, to gossip about.

 

I've done the supportive approach and the kick up the bum approach, and both have worked for a while - but there are obviously things brewing that need to be addressed as they won't go away. These even include things outside of work - such as "So and So didn't invite me out to aerobics with them, yet they went with So and So".

 

Anyway, the book goes through a process. All groups members come with a list of niggles, that are aimed at a situation rather than a person; but they also come with a solution to the situation, or how they would like it to be. The manager chairs the meeting, and basically the group thrashes out their conflicts, and comes to agreed solutions. Rules are set up at the start, and the team agree that they want to resolve things, and they agree upon how they will handle niggles in the end.

 

I am very keen to give it a go, but am obviously a little dubious as to what it will be like, and whether my young single females (!!) can pull through the other side. Lots of new things have been implemented, and they've been empowered to try new approaches and implement their ideas; but still they find fault with others - and general not work issues. They really need to start to sort many of their niggles out themselves in the appropriate way, before it gets to this stage again - and I am keen to get them to see that. Perhaps then they may remember that they have children to look after and care for!!

 

Any thoughts??

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HI Shelley,

 

no thoughts, but when you find the solution let me know! :o

 

i think its enevitable staff niggle i can live with that... it narks me of when they niggle about non work things and thus they don't need to be niggled about at work.

 

or the recent one at my place has been ' so and so doesn't like the shift pattern', or 'so and so said this.....' etc.....

i had a stressy week this week with staff particularily with sorting out shifts.... all i had was moan moan moan, and i wanted to stamp my feet and cry (it was a bad week!!!).... hopefully we have sorted it... but yes we have conflict brewing... so any advice from anyone would be great.....

 

Dawn

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Hi Shelley!

 

First - you are NOT alone!! It happens in every setting with young single folk - and some with older folk. It's just gossip. In our setting we get the same, have approached in all different ways as you have, - fine for a bit, then BAM!! off they go again :o Have a good scream!!! lol

 

Your idea sounds really good, it's worth a go, especially as you've been changing recently. They may be more receptive, having had their minds opened out a bit already?? Actually, it reminds me of standing back to see if the children can resolve their differences! lol

 

Let me know how it goes, my Manager is fed up with it too!

 

Sue

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I would just like to stress two points- based on bitter experience!.

 

1. Keep repeating that anything said at your meeting is confidential.

 

2. Be veryfirm about restricting discussion to the problems relating to the workplace. As their manager you are not responsible for sorting out their personal lives. It is the impact of these personal disagreements on their work which is your concern.

 

Good luck!

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Hi

 

have come to the conclusion that some people just love to moan, in fact, they're not happy if they don't have anything to moan about. I try my best to ignore it, and go about doing a professional job. It's a fact of life, affecting young and old.

 

Am interested in what others have to suggest. Obviously if it's serious/important everyone has to find a way of dealing with the situation in a positive way, which is not so easy if emotions are ruling rather than commonsense.

 

Deb

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I can cope with little moans - it's human nature and everyone does it. It's now getting out of control, particularly with a group of about 4/5 staff.

 

Staff have been to be in confidence, in either pairs or individually, and said that it is getting them down - even though they are the ones involved in it all.

 

I know it won't sort itself out and something needs to be done else it won't mull over.

 

I've discussed the idea with a couple of staff and they've said they are up for it, although a little apprehensive like myself as to the final outcome. I think if it's structured well it could be really productive. Every is keen to voice their views but they don't have the skills to do so in an appropriate manner, so I am hoping with me chairing that I can help them to do so - and agree on positive outcomes. The book says to see conflict as "Problems to be Solved", which seems much more manageable.

 

Many staff have said to me that it isn't fair on the children, but they can't pull themselves out of it.

 

I have a couple of members of staff who are ignoring it all, and walking away to interact with the children if any moaning starts - which is excellent. Now a couple of staff have started moaning about them doing this!

 

It really has reached a head and cannot be ignored, or dealt with in the normal ways, so the more I think about it, the more I want to get them to resolve things by being upfront with one another.

 

The books says that staff need to address issues or situations, and not individuals. I think this is something that staff will find hard, and something that needs careful thinking about.

 

I am reluctant to waste a staff meeting on this, but on the other hand strongly feel that until it blows over, none of the things we have on our action plan to make the nursery grow and develop, and take place with any effectiveness.

 

I could be the forum guinea pig and let you know how it goes!!!

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Plese do, Shelley - blog it, like me!!

 

Seriously, This is an issue which is really major in many settings and I believe that Steve and Helen set this place up so we weren't flailing helplessly!

 

So, walk the walk, talk the talk and do the do!! Show us what happens, we're behind you and will chip in with suggestions as so many of you have for me, in my little adventure!!

 

Sue xx

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I think you are doing the right thing by, one addressing the issues and two thinking about a mature and professional manner in which to do so.

My last two dispositions 'mature' and 'professional' are, I believe the most important factors for everyone to keep the focus on during your meeting.

 

Shelley, are you the owner/manager? The reason I ask is that your position is relevant. When chairing the meeting will the staff see you in your daily role ie; manager or in the role of the 'chair'

Depending on what your objectives are for the meeting will determine what role you will actually play ( if you get what I mean). A chairperson enables democratic discussion and conclusions, with only a casting vote/comment so to speak if there is a stalemate. the manager role however, is slightly different, more a directing, decision making role. Can you see what I'm saying here??? Consider how the staff will interpret your role during and after the meeting.

 

It would be wise to make very clear the aim and objective of the meeting. What will you do if some staff can't or won't attend?? How will their views be considered?

 

I'm not saying don't have the meeting, just consider the 'hidden agenda' that each individual attending the meeting will undoubtably have. :o

 

I have held meetings before with my staff but in the role of owner/manager, due to 'gossip' and negative attitudes affecting the quality of work. These were mainly gossip about the preschool from outsiders being repeated in the setting, plus some staff bringing their home life worries to work. I acknowledged to my staff that these issues are part of life but as 'mature' and 'professionally paid' staff, I would not accept that it affected their work, or the work of others. a bit dictatorial, I know, but at the time I felt I had to put a stop to negativety within the workplace. I put the onus on the staff to behave appropriately or face disciplinary measures. It solved the problem quite quickly.

 

On the other side of the coin, I have had staff meetings where I have asked all the staff to write on a piece of paper, 2 'areas to develop type comments about each other member of staff, and 2 positive comments about each member of staff. They then give me the paper and I read them out and we discuss as a group, always ending on the positive. The staff don't know which person said what. In my experience the positive comments were the ones that were remembered because the 'to develop' comments were acknowledged, discussed, supported and changes agreed, as a whole and not seen as an attack on individuals.

 

Good luck, I look forward to hearing how it all goes. :D

 

Peggy

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Peggy - I am the manager, but not the owner. The staff only ever see me, as the owner is a large organisation. Staff have been looking to me to sort out their niggles, which is great, as it means they feel they can approach me - something which they gave up doing with the last manager as she never took any actions.

 

Obviously there are some things that I can support them with but this is just getting beyond ridiculous. So I've now decided to empower them to have their own 'forum' to do it in.

 

I read the book a bit more in the bath last night (whilst my novel sat gathering more dust on the bedroom floor!!). At one point I called my boyfriend to bring me a highlighter pen - and watched his disgust as he saw that I wanted it for yet another work book!!!

 

It says:

 

* All parties must agrre to come together and work on the problems

* It helps if people can agree that problems exist, that those problems should be solved, and that all parties have some responsibility to work on the issues

* People may find it easier to deal with the conflict if they can accept the position that the end result of the team session is not to get everyone to 'like' one another, but rather to understand one another and to be able to work together

* It is not productive to try and sort out who is at fault or what caused the problems. Rather they should accept the fact that differences exist and that they need to work out agreeable solutions.

 

In the meeting people must:

 

* describe the problem behaviour and identify the negative consequences of the behaviours - all without punitive, negative evaluations of the individual personally.

 

It says that all to often conflicts are handled by people engaging in:

 

1. Ignoring - trying to pretend that no disagreements exist (they've been doing this to some extent as they've been pretending everything is alright with the people concerned, but whingeing about it to others);

2. Smoothing - trying to placate people and attempting to get them to feel good even though an agreement has not been reached (an agreement has definitely not been reached - and until it is I strongly believe we cannot move forward);

3. Forcing - getting agreement from a position of power. If the more powerful person forces the other to agree, the result may be public agreement, but private resistance (there have been times already where I've laid down the law, but their petty issues have now become so deep rooted, that they need to resolve them and feel happy with the solutions).

 

I am going to get staff to do some prep work before we meet, and go through how they might approach things at the meeting. 1 staff member said she was keen to address things, and felt that this was necessary, but didn't know how to do it without it being personal about someone - so we can look at how to do this together. It is likely that staff will identify their own actions in something someone says - but this is not bad thing at all.

 

Anyway - must leave the rest for the blog. Sue R has kindly persuaded me into doing one!!! - my boyfriend will be so chuffed!!! Perhaps we should set up a forum for boyfriends who are widows to childcare practitioners!

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Good Luck Shelley

 

Might it be useful to jot down some of the comments you have made (especially the ones below) to hand to everybody a few days before the meeting so that they have time to think about it and come up with some positive ideas?

 

Deb

 

* All parties must agrre to come together and work on the problems

* It helps if people can agree that problems exist, that those problems should be solved, and that all parties have some responsibility to work on the issues

* People may find it easier to deal with the conflict if they can accept the position that the end result of the team session is not to get everyone to 'like' one another, but rather to understand one another and to be able to work together

* It is not productive to try and sort out who is at fault or what caused the problems. Rather they should accept the fact that differences exist and that they need to work out agreeable solutions.

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The process sounds very useful, I hope for yours and their sakes that they can keep it objective and not personal.

With information on what is expected ( the aim) of the meeting, and ways as Deb's has pointed out, for them to prepare, hopefully it will work out.

 

Maybe you can even get them to agree how to stop such issues getting so out of hand in the future. They could write up their own 'ground rules' for working together harmoniously and professionally. :D ( and the consequences if they don't)

 

I look forward to following your blog :D

 

Peggy

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Isn't it all so difficult when it shouldn't be, :o people more often than not take comments/help/support/advice personally as opposed to being a genuine form of help - I suppose we are dealing with human nature and the fact we all have luggage and ongoing things in our life as well as our day-to-day living and working relationships to deal with -Life is hard sometimes. xD

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I was in a job before working for a local authority, and there was a lot of negativity there. Staff were never given the chance to air their concerns - even though there were a lot of staff who weren't happy. Instead it resulted in gatherings in the kitchen, etc.

 

People grumbled because management weren't acknowledging their issues. There used to be a whole team meeting once every 6 weeks, and everyone would get excited that finally they'd have the chance to voice their issues. Then they'd be presented with an agenda dictated solely by management - with no room to address the day to day niggles, etc.

Many people left, and many remain who are not happy, and are thus working at a small percentage of their full capability.

 

Had management allowed them some forum to get together as a team and address things - rather than ignore them - it would have been a much happier place to be, with a lot more committed people. I for one would have stayed.

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  • 1 month later...

Ok - I've started my blog - thanks Sue R!!

 

Not sure where it is on the Blog page - but it is definiftely there somewhere!

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