In his book, Managing Differences: How to Build Better Relationships at Work and Home, author Daniel Dana shared a fascinating statistic. Dana found that 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations arise from strained relationships between employees. In other words, most problems don’t come about due to an under-skilled employee or an employee’s lack of motivation, but rather because two or more employees have trouble working together.
Of course, “strained relationships” can mean a whole host of problems. Do two co-workers fight over who owns certain responsibilities? Does a team feel poorly lead by their manager? Does one employee feel undervalued or unheard by his boss? Or does a team of collaborators simply not get along?
Issues such as these are only the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, most workplace conflicts go unresolved, leading to turn-over. Ernst & Young have reported that the cost of losing and replacing an employee may come to 150% of the employee’s annual salary. Such costs can be devastating, particularly if workplace issues persist.
Quite often, the types of conflicts that drive people out of companies aren’t the sort of things that people report to HR. As a result, conflicts go on unresolved because the leadership is either unaware or unable to identify a reasonable course of action.
This is where employee assessments can help. Employee assessments allow business leaders to identify not just the strengths and vulnerabilities of their employees, but also gain an understanding of their wants and needs, the things they value, and how they work best. With this knowledge, resolving workplace conflict can begin. Teams can be reorganized so like-minded people have the chance to work together. Bosses and their employees can recognize the communication divide between them and put new standards in place. Employees whose skills may be underutilized in one position can be moved to another.
For example, we were once contacted by a company that had acquired a number of smaller companies and brought in a lot of new team members from the acquisitions. Distrust was rampant between the varied employees, and the company had trouble achieving its goals as a result. We suggested that each employee take an individual assessment and also suggested that the company participate in group assessments to determine where there might be underlying problems. We also suggested three days of workshops and meetings to help the people in this organization better understand team members’ perspectives and give them a path for moving forward together. We knew understanding the problem would be the first step and that creating a plan for moving forward and enacting that plan were what would help the company grow and become a cohesive, productive unit. In cases like this where there is employee conflict, before any plan can be made, we must rely upon the power of our assessments to identify issues for resolution.