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Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

Most of us have experienced a disagreement with our supervisor at some point in our careers. While these events may seem traumatic at the time, the reality is that if you handle the situation correctly it may actually be beneficial, because our actions show that we can negotiate our way through difficult situations and arrive at mutually acceptable outcomes.

1. Define the problem

Have you ever had one of those moments where you argue about everything except the issue in question? You’re certainly not alone.

When you’re in a position of disagreement, the first and most important thing to do is to take a moment to reflect and identify the core issue(s). Be objective; sit down with a piece of paper and write out everything you think is an issue, then rank the most to least important. The real issue is usually looking right back at you from the top of the list.

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    External validation is valuable. Find a trusted colleague or friend, explain the situation, and show them the top three items on your list. Ask what they would focus on, and listen hard to their answers to decide if you’d change your ranking.

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    Sometimes the list technique also helps us to understand that we’re just over-reacting and there is no core problem that needs to be addressed. If so, perhaps having a discussion with your trusted colleague or friend is a good idea. They may have some insights to share.

    Remember, 90% of conflict is just inadequate or ineffective communication. By defining the problem, you may find that you’re just not communicating well; a relatively easy and short term problem to fix.

    2. Find Common Ground

    “I think in most relationships that have problems, there’s fault on both sides. And in order for it to work, there has to be some common ground that’s shared. And it’s not just one person making amends.” – Michael Gary Scott from “The Office”.

    For every two things you and your supervisor disagree on there are probably twenty that you actually do agree on. Focus on the common ground first, then start talking about the points of disagreement in a safe and private forum, rather than just going into whatever it is that’s making you feel reactive.

    Often the points of agreement mediate the points of disagreement; for example, you may not agree on a specific item of the dress code, but you do agree on the need for the company to be professional and successful. Bring out your support for professionalism as a mediating factor for your disagreement about the item of clothing and the conversation will be more productive. Who knows? Maybe both parties can find things they can change.

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    3. See the Other Point of View

    “The war… was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.” – General Lee.

    Your supervisor has a point of view. By actively listening to them express that point of view, you are signaling a willingness to listen and engage, as well as a respect for their authority. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but you do need to listen and take their view into account.

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      If you’ve already identified what you believe the core problem is, you might test the waters to see if your supervisor agrees with your number one issue being the primary area of concern. If they don’t, then you need to add their concerns to the list of issues you made to consider their points.

      4. Set Boundaries

      “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

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        There are things you and your supervisor will not agree on. These usually include illegal situations such as sexual harassment and discrimination, but you may have ethical boundaries of your own that you simply cannot cross. Know what these are, and keep them in the forefront of your mind as you talk to your supervisor.

        5. Escalate if Absolutely Necessary

        “Between an uncontrolled escalation and passivity, there is a demanding road of responsibility that we must follow.” – Dominique de Villepin

        Most companies offer several ways of resolving conflict between supervisors and workers, including employee assistance programs (EAP), human resources intervention, and even third party mediators, that can all be valuable resources when you feel like you are “stuck”.

        I rarely recommend going “up the chain” to your supervisor’s supervisor because this can be seen as an aggressive move that puts your supervisor into the complex position of having to manage both you and their boss – a situation sure to cause conflict in itself.

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        Employees often do well to start with an off the record discussion with their Employee Assistance Program to help them frame their thoughts, before working with human resources to address the issue. The only exception to this case is when you believe something illegal is occurring in which case it is your obligation to notify HR or your internal compliance officer immediately.

        The role of HR is to take both the company’s and the employee’s interests and attempt to mediate a mutually acceptable solution wherever possible. It’s a complex role where you can’t make everyone happy, and skillful practitioners are in high demand.

        Remember your HR representative is a person who should be treated with respect if you expect them to work on your behalf.  Outbursts of emotion should be checked at the door, and your best chance of resolution is being seen as willing to work with your supervisor to find mutually acceptable outcomes.

        To Sum Up

        “Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains – daisy chains – of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between ‘his,’ ‘her’ or ‘their’ wish and yours.” – Andy Warhol

        Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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        Colin Rhodes

        Chief Technology Officer

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        Published on December 17, 2018

        15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

        15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

        The importance of asking great questions cannot be overstated. Great questions help you discover new things, diagnose existing problems, and explore how well solutions are working in your life or business. Whether you work with consultants, executives, or entry-level employees, you cannot skip questions.

        Now imagine running a company where sustainability and profitability depends on your ability to determine the brightest minds and skills in the industry in a single conversation:

        How do you know they’re the perfect fit for you? How do you assess their communication skills? How do you know they won’t cost your team in the long run?

        You know it already; ask great questions!

        The concept of asking questions isn’t new but there is a great chance that you’re not taking full advantage of it. A Harvard Business Review article refers to questioning as a powerful tool that unlocks value, fuels innovation and performance improvement.[1] As a hiring manager or recruiter, how to you get this information when you’re meeting a candidate for the first time?

        Ask great questions, of course.

        Without further ado, here are 15 interview questions to ask employees during an interview:

        1. “What are your career goals?”

        Another version of this question is “What types of problems do you see yourself solving in the future?”

        This question is almost never asked and when it is asked, most questions are geared towards knowing how long the employees intends to stay in the company.

        Instead of asking leading questions that would steer employees into declaring undying loyalty for the organization, ask what types of problems they hope to solve in the future.

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        This does two things:

        1. It reveals the skills and interest in your employees.
        2. It lets you know what types of candidates you are attracting in the first place.

        With this, you’re able to trend this data to improve how you market your job opening. And if employee retention is pertinent to you, you can use this information to improve the job function so that future employees can see their future selves in this role.

        2. “Why do you think you’re a great fit?”

        It is important to go beneath the surface to ask questions that make the candidates speak about themselves in their own words. However, a surprising benefit of asking this question is that you’re able to determine how well-versed a candidate really is with the company’s challenges and goals, in addition to their personal attributes.

        Instead of listing off accomplishments, an exceptional employee is able to help you see how these previous accomplishment can translate into helping your organization solve its current business problems.

        3. “What do you hope to learn from this role?”

        The answers to this question can reveal if there is a job-skill match and if a linear career progression is expected.

        As you listen carefully and mind these answers from candidates, you begin to see trends in responses that help you refine how you develop roles, responsibilities, how employees see themselves, and what they want their career to look like.

        4. “How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?”

        Almost every breakdown in relationship is caused by miscommunication or lack of effective interpersonal skills. But a solid indicator of how well a person communicates is how they manage interpersonal conflict.

        Conflict management skills is no longer something required only for corporations who wish to settle million-dollar lawsuits. It’s an essential skill that every worker ought to possess and can make or break an organization.

        Tip: Ask for a time when they didn’t get along with a co-worker and how they resolved the conflict.

        5. “How did you learn about this position?”

        Asking how they learned about the position reveals how the brand is perceived by the outside world. This way, you know if your current employees is your biggest source of referrals for qualified applicants.

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        This also lets you know how effective your current staffing processes are and which channels are worth the effort.

        6. “Why are you interested in this position?”

        Again, another seemingly basic question. But when you field applications from candidates who are transferring their skills from a different department or industry, you want to know why the change was made.

        What led to the aha moment? What was the internal struggle like for them? What stands out to them about this particular position? Very important.

        7. “What excites you the MOST about this position?”

        After establishing how passionate they are about this position, it’s not unusual that you would want to know what tasks and responsibilities excite them most. With this knowledge, not only are you aware of their sense of ownership, you help nurture these skills by encouraging and facilitating the discovery of hidden potential in your employees.

        For example, a hospital nurse might detest inserting intravenous catheters in patients but jump at the task of motivating colleagues and initiating stress-reduction activities on hospital units. An office employee might cringe at the thought of public speaking but excel at creating world-class presentations.

        While you can’t exempt your employee from every task in the role because they favor one thing over another, you are more aware of how rich your existing talent pool is in your organization and can utilize your talents effectively.

        8. “What do you consider your weakness?”

        Why should you ask a candidate what his or her weakness is when all you want is someone perfect?

        Admitting a weakness shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate. Rather, it reveals to you how self-aware the candidate is.

        Self-awareness is essential to personal and professional development, and this is sometimes a precursor to how self-directed a person is regarding their career goals.

        There are arguments about the need to abolish the weakness question from interviews because it reduces candidates’ accomplishments. I disagree.

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        Asking employees about weaknesses lets you understand your employees better so you can not only create a work environment that is smart, you’re able to design professional development programs that can strengthen these weaknesses.

        9. “What will you find challenging about this position?”

        Maybe you don’t want to ask the ”weakness question.” Maybe you’re more concerned about the capacity to perform in the current job rather than their job history.

        Still, you want to know if you have a creative problem solver and how they feel about potential problems when they arise. You also want to anticipate how your employees will adjust to their roles once they are successfully hired. Self-awareness about one’s ability and limits can be observed by asking this question during an interview.

        Note: This question should never be asked with a malicious intent. Exceptional employees come with flaws and this should be expected. They key is knowing whether the successful candidate is willing to be a problem solver.

        10. “What additional support will you need during your transition?”

        This is a very important question during the interview question because not only is the labor market diverse, the response to this question can be used to develop the orientation process and additional training materials.

        As a mentor to newer nurses, this is a question I repeat more than 50 percent of the time during the orientation period. The responses I get provide me with insights into what employees really consider as constraints so that I can make their transition as smooth as possible.

        11. “What qualities do you desire in a leader or manager?”

        Not everyone desires a manager who provides direction while giving you free rein to make your job your own. At the same time, some employees might prefer a manager who is detail-oriented and provides all the answers.

        Knowing this before a candidate is hired can prevent conflict arising from differences in communication or management styles.

        12. “What do you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s decisions?”

        Conflict not only happens between employees. According to a study of conflict in the Canadian workforce,[2] about 81 percent of people leave the organization as a result of conflict.

        The purpose of this question is to determine how adaptable an employee is to different communication styles, what they consider deal breakers, and how they model desired behavior when conflict arises.

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        The responses to this question allows you to manage expectations and an indication for leaders to continuously work on their communication and conflict management skills.

        13. “What would make this company an amazing place to work?”

        Maybe you can’t provide free lunches or paid hours of free time at work like bigger companies. But answers to this question can reveal a lot about what employees think is crucial to well-being.

        In a study of nearly 17,000 employees,[3] it was noted that an increase in stress level is directly correlated to workplace injury. While this interview won’t eradicate organizational constraints or stressors, feedback from candidates and employees on what makes a company a great place to work is the perfect place to start.

        14. “What other questions do you have for me?”

        Although this is a conversation to determine the best fit for your team, company, or organization, the interview goes both ways. Yes, you are also being scrutinized by your interviewee.

        The purpose of this question is to create space to answer the candidate’s questions about your organization. You also get to provide insight on processes, expectations, team culture, and information that isn’t readily available on the company website.

        15. “Tell me about yourself”

        If everything else seems too much, lead with this timeless question. You simply cannot go wrong here.

        Sometimes, the best answers come from open-ended queries. This is your best chance to know the candidate’s history, career accomplishments, and get a feel for their career goals all at the same time.

        It is less intrusive and leading with this question makes it easier to approach other questions––depending on how sensitive the position is.

        The Bottom Line

        Conversation is a two-way street. Good questions can give you great insights into the value an employee can bring to your company. But there is an art and science to asking questions.

        While you won’t become an expert right off the bat, these questions provide a good foundation to start from if you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization.

        More Resources About Job Interview

        Featured photo credit: Drew Beamer via unsplash.com

        Reference

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