View Full Version : conflict management training in use day one

Zoe Girl
10-28-11, 12:13am
OMG! This managing people should really be respected (and possibly paid) more. This will be brief since I just gotta do it but we cannot have the meeting until Tuesday so I have time to plan (and fret).

The situation is basically putting new leader at one of my sites where the previous leader (starting her 6th year) had to be demoted because of licensing regulations and no other reason. everyone was all excited, we could go to capacity of 75 kids now, and on day 4 I get a call from staff listing their issues with the guy. My staff there has been seen as screw ups so when I updated my supervisor the response was that they really need to change and listen to him because they haven't been doing well enough. I agree they need work, they have had major changes with the demotion and staff changes and all. I feel I am making excuses some days but I don't see how going over heavy handed is going to build a team that will work when I am not there.

So I get another call today, it is holiday party and the place was a mess. I get the staff version and then take the lead aside and let him tell me how he thinks it is going. He was very negative about the staff, and the staff is saying he is changing things and creating worse behavior and not following the expectations we cooperatively created at our last meeting. Great, who to believe and how to back it up (and deal with the background lack of trust in my staff by people like my supervisor).

Well I got 2 parents giving me feedback, I saved the voice message. Both very detailed and negative towards the lead. these are what I like, facts not judgments. What I have from my staff is 'attendance was not done until 5' (btw very bad issue) and lead saying 'they refuse to engage with the children and have a bad attitude'.

My deal in this? I took the conflict management class today and I feel very confident in taking care of this. In the end I want credit for what I have done. We may not be great at everything but last year the relationships with other after school programming had totally broken down, staff did not trust administration, the program was crappy. I am struggling with the talks with my supervisor who is 20 years younger. I am just not sure the best way to express that i got it handled, but it really is going to take work right now. I know it is counterproductive to list all the conflicts I have successfully solved, but I think because my sites have conflict that is the focus rather than how I am dealing with it. The generational thing is one part of my site issue and yet I am being very respectful of how I work with my coworkers who are all 20 years younger.

well I wil tell you what happens.

10-28-11, 1:33am

also, quaker communities often offer a LOT of coursework in consensus building and peaceful conflict resolution, both of which are AMAZING skills.

We don't use consensus at our offices, as we be the bosses! *whip lash sound!* But, I use consensus techniques so that everyone feels heard and we get good conflict resolution.

though these days, there's not much conflict.

10-28-11, 1:34am
oh, and the coursework is usually free. :D

10-28-11, 7:16am

Totally support and encourage you to try to resolve the conflicts within your different teams -- nobody is going to work together effectively or efficiently, or focus the amount of attention they should on the kids and not their own internal politics/issues, if you don't do some work on that. BUT (and that is intentionally a big but), if you haven't done so already you seriously need to sit down with your supervisor and have a talk about what SHE sees as most important and how SHE will be measuring your progress toward those goals. Have the talk, try to get on the same page, then get it in writing. Be sure the goals are achievable and if they aren't, explain why and renegotiate -- suggest an interim goal or extended target date for achieving the desired behaviour and see if that will work. Tell her what kind of support you need from her to reach the goals. If you want to focus on the conflict issues first, explain to her why you think that is important and show how working to resolve the conflict will also contribute toward reaching her goals for the program (and how not dealing with the conflict will likely prevent you from reaching your goals).

If it is really the case that you have been given all the sites with major conflicts, is it possible for you to ask to trade one of those for a less problematic site where you can really shine with the program work rather than having to spend all your time putting out fires? Put it in positive terms -- you want your supervisor to see that you can shine and perform for her in both areas: team-building/conflict resolution/training of low skilled or uncooperative staff AND providing great support and inspiration for teams who already have those skills. And of course you would also love for other staff to have the "growth opportunity" that comes from dealing with the problem sites :) This suggestion is made with no understanding of how the sites have been divided up and what the logistics are, but it seems to me that a good manager would see the perils of having all the difficult sites assigned to one person. Of course, there is always the possibility that she is not a good manager. But by standing up for yourself and showing how this kind of reassignment can contribute to the overall health and development of the program as well as your own professional development, you are modeling good behaviour.

Hope these thoughts are useful. I'm working in a very different environment, but also dealing with some related issues at work related to trying to improve the management and effectiveness of our programs. I sometimes tend to kind of barrel ahead with my own ideas about what is important and necessary, but this week I have been trying to focus more on what the real needs/constraints of our funder are and how I contribute to those needs being met more effectively (while still meeting my own needs in terms of having challenging, interesting work that allows me to develop professionally) while still managing to keep within a certain scope of work and budget. My boss is often telling me "try to think like a consultant" as I approach/reflect on my work, so that's kind of what I'm suggesting here too. Maybe it will work and they will start paying you the big bucks :)

Good luck working everything out before your meeting. Happy to continue to help you brainstorm over the weekend if that would help.


Zoe Girl
10-28-11, 10:34am
Thankyou all., I think that career advice is really good. I feel confident managing the conflict but I need to manage the career peice as well of being seen as doing what I am doing.

Trading sites is not going to happen for several reasons. The buisiness reason is that I have sites under the same grant and it is hard to track my time and effort for the federal govt, if I work at sites from different grants. One is personal, i would feel like a total loser to give difficult sites to people much younger than me. i can do this, but I feel that some younger folks may not understand what it is to get it done. My skill is not being the toughest person on the block, but I do not make things worse. In other words I let people feel heard, they talk it out, and we get where we need to go. I have yet to pull in higher ups on any issues I have had, I inform them of what is happening but I do not need anyone to come over and handle it for me (my younger coworker has had her staff make her cry and pulled in higher ups, I felt bad they treated her that way but I also know they wouldn't do that with me).

I have had 4 times when I was warned about meeting with volatile parents and each time the parent was happy when leaving and agreeing to the behavior report that we wrote. So AFTER I spent over 30 minutes on the phone with a grandpa/guardian about a situation I updated my sup and she told me to really listen and make sure he felt heard. I said as nicely as I could that I HAD just done that, just told her that I had spent X amount of time, he was willing to meet with me rather than going to the principal, and we had a meeting scheduled.

I guess it reminds me of how in the beginning of the year every time before a meeting or training our sup would say 'now be on time, make sure you are on time, that is early not at the minute'. Then we got into a discussion of late parent pick up and as the parent in the group she asked how many times I had picked up my child late from daycare and i said none. After almost 2 months of working together she was about to tell us to be on time the next day for a meeting when she looked at me and said, 'oh yeah, you are always on time'. Maybe we will get there with the rest of what I do.

Okay need therapy day right now. Too much of ex saying he is having a hard time because his tax bill is 30K, the ex boyfriend just being immature (and an ex a week after talking living together), the kids are calming but I have had times at this job I had to call in to take my son to the ER for a psych eval. while my work is compared to kids who still have their dad change the oil in their car, and none of this is on a resume that says I can handle so much. So that was a total purge of crap, now today i get to make a 3D tree on a bulletin board and sit in 6 hours of training. :cool:

10-28-11, 6:34pm
I know you have limited time, but DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT your achievements. If you haven't already, start that "yay me!" file where you keep notes from parents (or summaries of your successes in dealing with a situation), etc.

Sorry the other life stuff is so stressful at the moment. HOpe the training restores and inspires you.

Go ZG!


Zoe Girl
10-28-11, 10:24pm
Okay YAY ME!

I felt positive after training, have to write up 2 staff (out of 5 scheduled) after today. Don't have a lot of time for this. I only have 2 schools and they are both need super work so I am documenting the steps I am taking to address all these issues. Very funny, part of our training today was going back to issues and improvement plans that we go back to additional training. That is my focus, I keep on hearing that we need to wait until January for all our newer staff. Well meawhile I am planning in 30 minutes at least a week and another hour a month of ongoing training for my staff. I feel validated very much by this.

Meanwhile one problem child was planning on tattling on me for having soda in the back room of our program, our supervisor could care less when I told her. And the other problem child wants to text message parents for missing children. Uh nooooo. So I am ready to be done for the week.