You’re rolling out a new department structure. The in-coming system keeps facing resistance. Employees are frustrated. Besides daydreaming about the on-coming robot workforce, what do you do to solve employee conflict?
Your effort to resolve the issues may become doubly complex by the diversity within the workforce. The communication style that may work for a Baby Boomer will not work for a fresh-out-of-college Millennial. The most effective, unifying method comes from the billion-dollar company based out of Cupertino, California.
Straight of Apple’s “Genius Training Student Workbook” is the “Feel, Felt, Found” method. With target customers as wide and varied as Fortune 500 companies, public schools, and your tech-adverse great-aunt, Apple has nailed down a conflict resolution method that can translate across a myriad forms of situations.
What’s the formula to solve employee conflict?
The standard method of the “Feel, Felt, Found” is comprised of three phases:
Employees want to know they’ve been heard. They want managers to understand their duress or hesitation. Begin by telling them “I understand how you feel”. Start with recognizing their emotion (“I can see why you all are hesitant in adopting the policy”), then link the emotion to their current issue (“It does take a bit more time to clear security; I felt similarly”), and then end it with how what you gained from it (“Though I found that because of the new system, we have a more secured workplace”). The word “empathy” is used so frequently in the manual, it’s nearly mind numbing. But because they use it incredibly often, one can see empathy is the gateway to resolving conflict.
In order to accurately ascertain how people are feeling, work on your emotional intelligence. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence along with 33 other workplace skills in predicting strong performance. Their research found that is the strong predictor, explaining 58% of workplace successes. Therefore, think of the emotional reaction of a new change for employees. Then, lead from there.
Tell them about someone else having similar emotions. If you have history in other company policy changes, bring up how people also felt hesitant, frustrated, or angry. This tells employees that they are not alone in facing a new change. Nearly every change in a company takes an adjustment period. By demonstrating a similar situation, you are building a bridge between their current emotional state to the place you’re hoping to guide them towards.
Ascertain the type of organization you have. Are you a tech company that prioritizes a flat hierarchy? Or are you more of top-down organization, like a government agency? Draw parallels from similarly-constructed organizations. Do a bit of research to find out changes they enacted.
Finish by telling them what the other person found after they integrated into the new program or bought the product. Employees are looking for the payoff in the action, policy, etc. By creating a storytelling arc, you are drawing parallels about what positive outcome they can expect.
In a professional setting, statistics and figures strengthen your argument. Talk about how the other department saw a 15% spike in more parents taking paternal leave or how crypto-compensation has worked within other companies.