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Strategy for Team Leaders and Division Supervisors to Resolve Personality Tension (PT) in the Workplace

Personality Tension (PT) is an ill feeling behavior between coworkers where neither has the power to fire the other. Therefore, they try to gain power by creating the tension through their behavior towards each other. It does not include management created tension where the manager has the power to fire an employee. Team leaders and supervisors constantly interact with employees and resolve problems to create a better workplace environment.

Dealing with personality differences among employees is one of many challenges facing team leaders in the workplace. How can you create harmony between coworkers that don’t like each other, yet must work together? It is easier said than done for the team leaders that lack effective problem solving skills: ability to assess a problem and to take action.

At times, the problems are a result of personality clash between employees under your supervision. Your organization, if it is like any other organization, is probably made up of workers from diverse backgrounds and dissimilar life experiences. These diversities are the foundation of our individual personality in the first place.

Personality diversity (PD) is actually what makes us humans: our uniqueness. In fact it will be unrealistic for you to expect all your workers to think and act alike. I hope to help you understand how to handle the personality tension, if any, in your company by writing this article because it is a prevalent problem in many organizations today.

It is important that you, the team leader, understand that your workplace is a melting pot (a collage of workers with different perspectives and opinions) of how they are treated and how they, too, should treat others. This can create a possible source of personality tension, specifically since your workers coexist in close proximity in performing their duties on a daily basis.

Here is how personality tension can manifest itself, under your radar, without resulting to physical contact: sarcasm, gossip, and failure to share work related information, withholding help from a trainee, ganging up on another worker, displaying favoritism, and intimidating body language. You must strive to mitigate personality tensions in your organization because it can escalate to negatively impact your bottom line.

3–Strategies to Help You Put the Problem to Rest

Seek To Understand the Core of the Problem

As a team leaders or a division supervisor, you must first seek to understanding the cause of the problem by bringing the parties involve to identify the core of the personality tension. This initial probing is what I call the forensic stage: bringing to light the core of the problem. One way to accomplish this goal is by meeting the individuals involve separately in your office, then, followed by joint invitation of the individuals involved in your office. As team leader or supervisor, understanding the step necessary to bring two unwilling workers together means that you must probe for the cause of the personality tension in the first place.

Encourage Self Monitoring Feeling Skill

The adage “treat people the way you want them to treat you” is what comes to my mind when I think about self monitoring to guide my feelings. It is essential that you inform the conflicting parties that respect for each other’s opinion, no matter how unwelcoming it may be, is important for them to have fun at the workplace. Respects for other’s point of view means that you must monitor your own feelings when you listen to others take on the subject at hand. Group leaders must promote awareness on how employees allow their personal emotional feelings to get in the way of a rational and factual solution to a problem. Here is how to self monitor your feelings: ask yourself “am I reacting to this individual because of my personal feeling towards him or her as a person or is my reaction based on my understanding of the matter at hand? If your reaction is based on your personal feeling toward the individual, and has nothing to do with the task at hand, then you must change.

Persuade Employees to Reach Out to Others with Opposite View Point

Often we hear that our elected officials in Washington are not carrying out the people’s business that they were elected to do because the two major parties fail to reach out to the other side of the aisle: figuratively referring to the opposing party’s view point or position. I spoke earlier in this article that the group leader or supervisor should invite, parties to the conflict, to his or her office to try to resolve the conflict. There is no better time to use this opportunity, in having two individuals that don’t like each other sitting in your office, to encourage simple hand shake at the end of the meeting, and to observe the one that reached out first. This is a nonverbal language that you ought to take serious because it shows that there may be unresolved issue. One thing you don’t want to do is allow the parties to leave your office with unresolved issue. The hesitant hand shake is an indication that the situation has not been fully resolved to their satisfaction. Here is how you should address the issue, ask the reluctant hand-shaker if he or she has any additional concerns, and let the individual know about your observation.

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About John Alizor

John O. Alizor, Ph.D., currently runs workshops and seminars on leadership as the founder and president of John Alizor, Ph.D., Leadership Forensics Business Consulting, Inc. He has an extensive background in education administration and business leadership roles including making his first million dollars as the head of a manufacturing company. He is sharing his leadership…