Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

Boss’s Tip of the Week #1: How to Resolve Disagreements (Without Bloodshed)

eBossWatch is happy to announce a new weekly advice column for managers called Boss’s Tip of the Week.  The column, the first segment of which appears below, will be written exclusively for eBossWatch by Bob Rosner and Allan Halcrow, co-authors of The Boss’s Survival Guide.

Some people collect stamps, some people collect baseball cards, and some people – you know who you are — collect parking tickets. We collect boss stories. We didn’t set out to collect the stories (it’s not as if there’s a Boy Scout merit badge for it), but when one of us writes the syndicated Workplace911 column and the other is a management trainer and consultant it’s an occupational haz- — er, privilege.

As you might imagine, we’ve heard a lot of bad boss stories. Some of them are heartbreaking, some infuriating, and a lot worthy of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Still, after hearing literally thousands of stories about bosses we can tell you:

  • Being a boss isn’t easy. (In fact, it’s really tough.)
  • No one sets out to be a bad boss. (No matter how much it may appear otherwise.)
  • Bosses aren’t the problem, they’re the solution. (Yes, really.)

That’s why we wrote The Boss’s Survival Guide – to show bosses how to get great results from employees who actually enjoy working for them. Yes, it is possible.

The new, second edition of The Boss’s Survival Guide is just out, and we thought we’d share some of the best tips on bossing we have. If you’re a boss, these are lessons that you – and your employees – won’t have to learn the hard way. (And they’ll help keep you from showing up as a bad example on eBossWatch.com.) If you work for a bad boss, we hope you’ll find some constructive ideas to share. Or some things to look for in your next boss. Let’s start with managing conflict.


Share responsibility (rather than just blaming the other party).

Let go of the past. Instead, ask what each party can do in the future to preserve the working relationship.

Focus on needs, not wants. Forget a wish list; focus instead on the bottom line.

Accept differences in style. Has someone suggested a great idea that you would never have thought of in a million years? Whatever their origin, differences in style are something that should be appreciated and embraced, not resisted.

Stop being selfish. If you’re the one acting selfishly, try to stop. If the other person is the selfish one, rather than focusing on one selfish act, remember all the people who’ve let you back in their good graces after you’ve done something negative. Return the favor by being more charitable now.

Find out what’s going on. Believe it or not, people usually have a reason for believing what they believe. Taking the time to share perspectives can provide new ideas or offer insight into different positions. Simply having a discussion increases the odds of finding common ground.

Real Life Example

A boss wrote to Workplace911 to share his strategy for resolving conflict. He has a standing offer to any two employees engaged in a conflict: He’ll buy them lunch to work out their problems. The catch? They have to come back and tell him how they’ve resolved their differences. He calls it “the cheapest problem-solving tool ever.”


Bob Rosner is a workplace consultant and well-known authority on employee retention. For the last 25 years, Rosner has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and has been an adjunct professor to MBA students in addition to addressing leading corporations across the world. For more than 12 years, he wrote the internationally syndicated column “Working Wounded: Advice That Adds Insight to Injury.” Bob is the founder of Workplace 911, a comprehensive web site offering help for whatever ails you at work. He has been featured as a workplace expert on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, Fox, and others, and his work has been featured in People, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, and Fortune. He lives in Seattle. 
Allan Halcrow is the former editor-in-chief of Workforce magazine, and has been awarded the prestigious McAllister Editorial Fellowship from the American Business Press. He currently serves as Partner at Help Jim, a training and consulting firm that helps employees perform more effectively. Allan lives in Irvine, California.

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