Today’s workplace can potentially be a hot bed of discord. It can be a place where a group of disgruntle workers can be found. It is also where you can find dissatisfied employees, who hold the view that they are a target of their employer; be it at the top management or supervisory level.
The adversarial relationship which exists is sometimes at the level of employee and employee. Whatever the factors are that lead to a break down in workplace relationships, the hard fact is that it all adds up to painting a picture of an unfriendly workplace.
Where such an unfriendly environment exists, it can lead to a hostile, volatile, stressful and unproductive environment. It is a mistake to think that this environment is conducive to getting the best out of people.
This tension often leads to other ills that are detrimental to the workplace. No bigger problem could surface than that of chronic absenteeism, abuse of sick leave, unpunctuality and gross inefficiency.
This presents a night mare for any employer who faces a bigger challenge, if the actions of the employer is a contributing factor to the declining work attitudes that emerge. There is very often no quick fix to some of these problems, as it might require a complete review of management policies, systems and procedures. It might be that management is paying the price for its poor treatment of workers, exploitation of its employees, exercise of poor management and judgments, poor recruitment and selection policies, failing to communicate effectively with employees, and excluding employees from the decision making process.
It is easy to criticise employees about their work attitude, without a knowledge of the conditions that give rise to this. However, employees whose actions are callous and scandalous must be severely reprimanded for such.
Individual employees must be called to account for their actions, and if found wanting must accept that there are consequences for their actions. It is understandable that the difficulties experienced in the workplace can be depressing and demotivating. However, this does not give any individual or group of individuals to do as they please.
Grievance matters, disputes, personal issues and poor leadership stand out as four main factors contributing to unfriendly workplaces. There is one single thing common in these, and that is, communication. If good communication was established in the workplace, it would certainly contribute to better relationships, less stress, deeper meaning, greater satisfaction, higher confidence levels and fewer misunderstandings and miscommunication.
General improvement in the relationships existing in the workplace can be achieved through inspired leadership. Indecisiveness, incompetence and riding high on a big ego will do little to inspire confidence amongst subordinates, and to get people to work together in achieving the goals set.
Getting employees to buy in and focus on the goals of the enterprise, will help to move away from those things that might serve to other wise detract from the mission set. There is also room for improving on the standards that the organization sets and for putting in place the requisite systems that will help to induce workers to conform, rather than to have it appear that they are being coerced.
It may be that the employer does not pay close attention to the little things that count which will lead to building better relationships at work. It is in both the employer and employee interest to make this happen, for it is the sure way to have a workplace environment that is warming and comfortable in which to work. This would certainly make for decent work.
* Dennis de Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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