People Management

How some New Managers supervise their former peers?

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
Last November, veteran nurse Dianne Baker was named acting supervisor for the outpatient cardiac rehabilitation center at a hospital near Philadelphia. Ms. Baker, whose new duties included managing three other employees, quickly found herself at sea. She wasn’t sure how to oversee former peers and stumbled over the paperwork and finances. Monthly financial reports were “like reading gibberish to me,” she says. After operations meetings with a hospital executive, she asked colleagues, “What is he talking about?”
“I’m a clinical expert in what I do, and that doesn’t always translate into skills for management,” she says. “You have to learn all new skills.” It’s an experience all too familiar to new managers. Employers often promote strong individual performers to supervisory roles with little instruction. But people who excel among the rank-and-file don’t automatically have the skills or knowledge to manage well.
Companies call it “ ‘on the job’ training, but it’s really trial by fire,” says Robert Kelley, an adjunct management professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh. New managers mostly learn by trial and error, he adds, and find the transition difficult. “They’re very ill-prepared for all the routine things that managers do.”
As corporate profits rebound, employers are spending more on training, but most are skimping on help for first-rung managers. An average of just 7% of employers’ training budgets was aimed at first-line supervisors in 2003, down from 12% in 2002, according to the most recent data from the American Society for Training & Development. Much of that training goes to help managers comply with workplace rules on issues like sexual harassment, or to teach them financial basics such as budgeting.
That leaves little time for training on “soft skills,” such as coaching, leading, disciplining, giving feedback, and resolving conflicts. As a result, human-resource consultants say, new managers struggle to strike the right tone with former peers, with some trying too hard to stay one of the gang and others asserting their authority too harshly. New managers are also notoriously inconsistent, confusing staffers with intermittent or conflicting feedback.
Big multinational corporations are more likely to offer comprehensive training than smaller companies, where instruction is hit or miss, consultants say. Among the worst offenders are organizations filled with professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, and journalists, who consider themselves masters of their craft first and managers second.
Whatever the field, one of the toughest issues for new managers is supervising former peers. After mechanical engineer Donald Pierce was promoted to supervise a few employees at the National Institute of Standards and Technology several years ago, he had to confront an employee about tardiness. Mr. Pierce was good friends with the man — they take an annual fishing trip together — and with others he now managed at the government agency, and he sensed that his employees were watching to see what he would do.
Mr. Pierce hadn’t had any coaching on how to handle this kind of tricky situation. He decided to talk to the employee privately, but firmly. “I didn’t yell, but I was serious,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m calling you in here not to B.S. about outside work stuff’ ” but about a job issue. “I told him, ‘you know, part of my job is to make sure you’re doing yours and that you’re showing up on time.’ ” Although it was uncomfortable at first, Mr. Pierce says, the employee was “conciliatory” and agreed to start coming in earlier. Today, Mr. Pierce is confident he took the right approach.
Ms. Baker, the Pennsylvania nurse, faced a similar issue when one of her former colleagues told her about a personal problem. Ms. Baker says she reacted as a friend, not a boss, offering specific advice on what the woman should do. Now she worries her approach was inappropriate for a boss, and she should have referred the woman to counselors at the hospital rather than giving off-the-cuff help herself. “I offered advice as a friend but that’s not really what I needed to do,” she says. Instead, she says, she should have listened to the woman and served as a sounding board. Eventually, another manager told her that her hospital, a part of Main Line Health, offers a lot of training for new managers, including a class called Peer to Boss. She enrolled in it, as well as in a basicfinance class. “Although you can learn a lot from your peers, you don’t always learn the right way,” she says. Last spring, just before starting her first training class, Ms. Baker agreed to become a permanent supervisor. Main Line Health
has increased managementtraining offerings in recent years in response to requests by managers, says Betty Hulton, the organization’s director of education and development. In the late 1990s, Main Line added classes on customer service and workplace rules on sexual harassment and family leave. But managers asked for more soft-skills training, Ms. Hulton says, which has led to courses like the Peer to Boss class.
Other times, the impetus for training comes from senior management. Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, a 160-lawyer firm based in Portland, Ore., is bolstering its formal management training following a merger and a round of new hires. Senior leaders decided the firm had grown too big to continue to rely on informal collegiality for training, says President David Bartz. Supervising attorneys weren’t exactly clamoring for the instruction, though. “You find a lawyer that wants more training and I want to buy that lawyer,” Mr. Bartz quips. Without instruction, some managers just wing it. Heather Spyke says she has gotten no formal management training since being promoted in late 2004 to head the customer-service department at a small Georgia company that makes wireless medical devices. While drafting her first-ever performance review, she struggled with how to tell an employee to curtail his social chit-chat.
The company had a template for reviews, but it wasn’t very detailed. So she went on instinct. She first praised his good qualities and then gently explained how his conversations consumed too much time and distracted co-workers. The approach worked. “I was lucky,” she says. But instinct has also led her to make mistakes. A couple of months ago, Ms. Spyke learned that an employee hadn’t entered an order because he didn’t know the product number. Rather than confront the employee, Ms. Spyke just entered the order herself. “I have avoided saying things because I don’t like conflict,” she says. “That’s something that I’ve really had to work at.”
Some middle managers who oversee first-time supervisors notice, and lament, the lack of training. Nancy Meiers, a senior program manager at a government contractor in Washington, D.C., has worked in management for two decades at seven employers, ranging from accounting to pharmaceuticals. Frustrated with the dearth of formal training, she devised her own curriculum for new managers. She tracks employees in line for promotion and the skills they lack. Sometimes, she recommends external courses; other times, she teaches the employees herself after hours, offering pizza as an incentive. In her classes, she helps would-be managers work through tricky problems, such as handling a new employee who messes up from day one. She also explains how to manage budgets. If employers were training “and doing it effectively,” she says, “I wouldn’t have been doing all this.”

Ned's Rules of Engagement

I developed a particular passion during 22 years of service in uniform. That passion was how leaders work — what they did, and more importantly, why they did it. In 1998, I began to articulate some guidelines that I had learned over time, both in and out of uniform, about how people (who are responsible for the work of others) should conduct themselves as leaders. The important consideration here is: “It is not important what we do, rather it is why.”
These guidelines grew into what I now call “Ned’s Rules of Engagement.”
The quirky title comes from two separate concepts. First, people who are responsible for the work of others need to live by a code of conduct in order to ensure success in their own work —being responsible for the work of others. This is an “engagement” to live by a code of the type given below — just like any other promise made to oneself. The other connotation of the title phrase comes right out of its military meaning and can be applied in the same context. That context is a set of allowable actions leaders may take when faced with a pre-defined set of circumstances or, “if circumstance A occurs then I am allowed to take action B.” So, the second implication is that these rules help focus a leader’s vision on the best set of responses they may use to react to developing circumstances. “Ned’s Rules of Engagement” are about what we do as leaders and which set of circumstances would normally trigger each one of the rules. In the end, they are not really my rules. Others really did all the work in developing them and I cannot claim credit for the wisdom they provide me. All I did was catalogue them into my own list.
Based on this approach (“what” is less important than “why”), I have attempted to articulate the reason behind the most desired approach for each circumstance. The best reasons we can have for doing anything affecting our team are those most clearly understood by our team members and most acceptable to them. When we are responsible for the work of others, therefore, the best “reasons” we can have for our actions are based on a principle or a set of principles. Leaders who are remembered not only for their successes (because simple success is not enough) but also for their positive contributions to their group, are those that followed this very approach.
Today, these rules are posted on my door at work. If I breach any one of them, my colleagues have the right, and are encouraged to exercise the duty, to call me on the breach. They are automatically in the right. The rules are not so tough to follow and I really enjoy the simplicity they can provide when faced with complex circumstances that may include conflicting requirements. They are how I measure my own performance — and some-times how I measure the performance of others (who are responsible for the work of others). My colleagues are exempt from this examination because very few of them have had the opportunity to experience the types of situations where understanding these is critical to survival. Some of my bosses, however, have not been so lucky — especially those who have had access to the same type of common sense training that I enjoyed.
There have been occasions when I have demanded adherence to one aspect or another of these rules from those for whom I worked. In fact, one of the reasons that I really enjoy my current appointment is that our Executive Director can quote these to me. Which brings me to my last consideration.
These rules are not copyrighted. If I were to define the single greatest reward from having spent the time to write them (actually re-write them into one list), then that reward would be defined as knowing that more leaders and managers use them. It would make life so much easier for me in a number of different ways, not the least of which would be an ability to get more done within the common constraints of time and other resources. I have the advantage of working for someone who understands and applies them but many people work in organizations where leadership authority is exercised by those who do not or will not.
Conversely, application of these rules by leaders, whether or not they have madnagerial authority, can remove 95% of all job-related dissatisfaction experienced by their team members.
If anyone needs to know what implementation of these rules can accomplish, here it is: Good leaders can motivate dispirited teams of people to achieve difficult objectives under impossible circumstances. And this is the most that any organization can ask of its leaders — at any level.

Buying, Interviewing & Selling - II

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
First, are some questions illegal? State laws vary, but there are questions to avoid asking. Interview questions should focus on “What do I need to know to decide if this person is qualified to perform the job?” A question that might cause a potential employer to discriminate based on factors unrelated to job performance is considered illegal. Indian law prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.
Open-ended questions that encourage an applicant to talk about work history are very useful. An extension of this is behavior-based interviewing, premised on past behavior predicting future behavior. Asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is not related to how well a person will do a job. A behavior-based question might be, “Give an example of how you have solved an instrument problem.” Other examples are in Consider asking the same core questions for similar positions. This will make it easier to compare applicants after interviewing is over before making your decision. Working from a prepared list of questions also will help create an impression of organization and purpose.
Applicants may be nervous, apologetic, forgetful, or appear flustered when answering questions. Depending on the last time they interviewed, this may be understandable. Re-phrasing a question may elicit a clear response. Your goal is to find the best person for the job, and putting an applicant at ease will help you find out what you need to know. If your HR department isn’t prepared to offer a structure, design one that maximizes your time to exchange the most amount of relevant information. What structure you choose is a matter of style and preference, but there are common elements:re-phrasing them if needed.

Manage Your Own Lab - Part II

Every network needs ongoing maintenance—allocate at least one hour a week for brief steps that keep your name in front of people. "Make a follow-up call, meet for coffee, or send a handwritten note," says Morris.
You'll probably work with departments and scientists inside and outside your own institution. Lippincott-Schwartz encourages collaboration within her group. "Each person is an equal part. I try to get people talking to each other in small groups, making sure to include everyone who's interested in this topic. It's so cool to see people with different expertise working together—their energy feeds on each other." "I know our lab isn't able to do everything," Slack acknowledges. "We seek collaboration where we think someone could be constructive in a project. Fortunately, Yale is very collaborative; its 400 bio labs have most of the expertise we've needed. It just takes a few e-mail rounds: 'do you work on X?' They may say 'No, but try Y'.
"Finding academic science increasingly interactive, Frazer sees large collaborations encompassing diverse skill sets. Her new international grant has five M.D. clinicians and five Ph.D. biologists, plus genomicists and informatics specialists, in San Diego, Vancouver, and Toronto. Beyond monthly phone meetings of all 20 researchers, Frazer has frequent contact with other genomicists. The entire group will meet in both Toronto and San Diego annually.
Joerg Schaefer directs the Cosmogenic Dating Lab at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His lab collaborates with scientists on related projects, all over the world, including with a New Zealand team for nearly a decade. They stay in close contact through Skype and other technologies. The complexity of establishing a partnership in a distant country calls for exceptionally resourceful networking. Through another Lamont lab, Schaefer was able to join a collaboration, the Asian Monsoon Project, with the nation of Bhutan.
Sustain previous collaborations, recommends Michel Tremblay, director of McGill University's Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Center, with 300 students, postdocs, and technicians. "When you leave a lab and get out on your own, it may be a different kind of project. Your [previous colleagues] won't follow you. If you had a good relationship with your ex-mentor, maintain it. " Which collaborations thrive? Setting mutual goals fosters strong, honest, productive interaction. "Especially with virtual relationships, take incremental steps to build trust," Morris recommends. Spell out communication pathways at the very beginning: how often, in what form, and who gets to know what? "With a global team, have at least one face-to-face meeting to establish ground rules." Mentoring "There's a big difference between mentorship and directing research," explains Tremblay. "Don't micromanage—mentoring isn't telling the scientist what to do. Like a good parent, offer guidance, but let the [mentee] develop. Give freedom. Treat individuals as partners." Good mentors, he adds, know their way around the university and understand how to get to the right people. Photo of Frank Slack Frank Slack "Learn to juggle many different things simultaneously, but keep emotionally steady because people in your lab really look to you," says Lippincott-Schwartz. "It's a huge roller coaster every time you send out a paper—everyone's going through emotional ups and downs. To be cheerleader is critical." When a project isn't working well, talk through options, brainstorm new ideas, and ask, "So if we get this result, then what?" Lippincott-Schwartz doesn't prevent anyone from trying a new idea they feel strongly about. "I might argue against it, but I won't say, 'No, don't.' " "My door is always open," declares Slack, inviting everyone to see him whenever they want, show him data, or call him to the microscope. "I don't go to them every day, or even every week. I tend to encourage by steering, not forcing, and giving a little space to find their own way."
To Frazer, it's vital for managers "to be open, honest, and straightforward, but simultaneously kind and compassionate. The fun stuff is easy. Deflecting a potential problem is harder." When one new postdoc was, as Frazer described it, "all over the place," she discreetly intervened. "It was important for him to stay on track and learn to get things done, or else he'll have a tough time in future jobs." In giving well-defined assignments, she would emphasize, "This is the task," then thank him warmly upon completion. After four months, things are improving. "Now when we have a conversation, he realizes, 'I have to focus, not be distracted,'" Frazer reports. In academia, teaching is central, Tremblay observes. "Promote your young faculty members through lecturing responsibilities, such as teaching fourth-year undergraduates. That makes them better known to students deciding which laboratory to choose for graduate studies." Remind research students to make a career plan. Instead of directing where to do further training, you might say, "these few labs are the best in their fields. The P.I. is well known for mentorship. These are some I wouldn't choose because of track record, funding, field of research, or networking." One touchy situation: a young researcher with consistently disappointing performance. "Some P.I.s won't get involved at all. It's very hard to say, 'academia is not for you,'" Tremblay finds. "Sometimes you must tell your mentee, 'These are your strengths. Here is where you are weak. I think you might not make it as a faculty member at a top university. You have good expertise in other aspects of research, such as administration. You would be great in translational research or clinical trials.'"
When a postdoc heads toward another job, "Leave space for them to start their own program. It takes generosity," says Tremblay, "to allow this best trainee in the last year to start a new one to bring along. Have an open discussion with each trainee about what they'd like to do next. Provide tools for them to move forward," including the time and resources to carve something from the current project. Motivating and Managing A corporate lab's objective is meeting the business goal. An academic lab's goal "is whatever the PI got money for," Morris notes. "Every department meeting, every printed document, every conversation should reinforce that 'the mission of this lab is to.…' Constantly remind people that we're not here to do our individual experiments. This is part of something bigger." Morris cites the "complex demographics of lab personnel. Managing and leading require respecting differences between cultures and generations. Accept that work can be done in individual or innovative ways," Morris suggests. "One person may complete projects by setting a timeline for each day's work, while another needs the adrenaline of last-minute pressure, completing the project by several all-nighters. Yet both produce a quality product." To promote a team's trust and cooperation, Tremblay advises setting clear expectations for your lab, staying aware of what's going on there, and quickly resolving conflicts within your group. What constitutes conflict? Hogging a piece of equipment or writing notes in a native language instead of lab language affects everyone. Ideally, Morris advises, let lab members resolve minor tensions, stepping in only when something escalates enough to disrupt the research. "Establishing and following performance guidelines that define appropriate versus inappropriate lab behavior is essential to becoming an effective lab manager. Make every employee aware of guidelines and consequences for not complying," says Morris. Clarify academic realities, too, Tremblay stresses. A researcher may be the inventor of a discovery, and receive acknowledgment through an ensuing patent with his/her institution, but the university owns everything done in any lab on its property.
"To make sure everyone is treated fairly, keep your lab well organized so you're clear about who's done what, who started what. People should get the credit they deserve. That's what justifies the hard work, especially on licenses, patents, and publications." Some of Schaefer's lab members go on lengthy field excursions, to locations as far-flung as Patagonia or New Zealand. "Working globally, the areas we study are always beautiful, and we post wonderful photos. Then the researchers come back and share their adventures on the field trip. It makes everyone feel very involved." Schaefer's team-building has a firm foundation: "I make it clear that I expect everyone who works here to have fun. We have lunch together once a month, off campus. Every week, one group goes out after work, for beer." Slack's lab prefers champagne, popping open at least one bottle a month to celebrate a birthday, new grant, or accepted paper. He cooks an annual dinner for all 17 researchers at his home. The team takes one day trip each year, like canoeing. Slack's annual State of the Lab address "honestly assesses where we are in terms of new money, new people, our papers, our goals for that year. We'll all know what our colleagues are working toward. I give information and want them to tell me what they think. They get to speak up about direction, or any area where they think we should focus or add effort." His entire team gets involved in hiring. "Any postdoc I consider comes to the lab for a day, meets everyone to talk about science one-on-one, and has lunch and dinner. Each of my people reports on the interaction. We check motivation, interest, and personality," Slack confides. "We have few interpersonal issues because we try to encourage smart, socially adept people to join. And we demand they each be a good lab citizen."

Manage Your Own Lab - Part 1

By Carol Milano
Posted at:
You've reached a career milestone: managing your own lab. This recognition of your achievements attests to your hard work, attention to detail, commitment to a goal—and outstanding science. But be prepared. You're about to face challenges you may not have considered.
As Frank Slack, a Yale University professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, quickly discovered, "To be successful at running the lab, being a good scientist isn't enough. It suddenly becomes all these different roles we weren't trained for, like psychiatrist and personnel manager."
Those responsibilities often require new skills. Here's how some of your peers are mastering the "human elements."

Networking and Collaborating

When you run your own lab, "networking" isn't just about finding the next job. It means cultivating productive relationships, which succeed only when they are reciprocal. Mutual trust grows through willing exchange of information or services.
Start by developing contacts inside and outside your own institution—locally, nationally, and even internationally. Find your professional association's nearest chapter. Ask your mentors and colleagues which organizations they belong to. Once you join one, get involved. Volunteering for a committee or writing for the chapter newsletter, for instance, makes you much more visible.
"You and the people you're managing will have to speak in public or mingle effectively at meetings and conferences," says Susan Morris, president of Morris Consulting Group, which coaches research scientists. To minimize uneasiness and build confidence if you're shy, she suggests:

Talking to a stranger can be intimidating. Safe "starters" include asking their current job, how they got it, why they chose this event, or other groups they belong to. Seek topics of mutual interest, such as that gathering's focus. If you can offer information about anything that's mentioned, jot a note on the person's card. Follow up promptly.
Frequently traveling to give lectures, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, chief of cellular biology metabolism at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, values professional meetings, despite the time drain. "I make contacts, hear things that would be difficult to pull out just by reading the literature, and meet people doing things relevant to our work." Almost without trying, she says, collaborations develop.
Taking part on national panels "is a responsibility as senior members of the scientific community," believes Kelly Frazer, who heads the new Division of Genome Information Sciences at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. She finds those she's on, like the expert scientific panel for the genomewide association program (a trans-NIH initiative led by the National Human Genome Research Institute), "very beneficial because of the contact with people and with what's going on." In a rapidly moving field, Frazer uses these events to stay connected through informal exchanges over coffee, lunch, and dinners. I listen to the science, give input, have discussions, hear others' ideas, and look at the work."
Lippincott-Schwartz prods every lab member to attend at least one professional meeting a year. "People don't realize how social science is! By talking science during these trips, you learn what's important to the field, what the major questions are, where your science fits the broader, bigger scheme, and how what you're doing interests other people (or not)."

Acquiring People Skills

Recognise People & Reap the Benefit

Courtesy: We Magazine for Women
Recognition is the act of recognizing or the state of being recognized. It is an acknowledgement of something, especially as being true or valid. Recognition is not just a nice thing to do for people. Recognition is a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcome that was created by what is being recognized.
People like recognition that is random and that provide an element of surprise. Most importantly, recognition must supply specific information about what behaviors or actions are being rewarded and recognized.
When a person is shown appreciation and reorganization for good work performance, it doesn’t matter if that person is an employee or a volunteer it will encourage others to strive for that perfection for themselves. It’s a proven fact that by recognizing people dedication, commitment and results–you boost their moral increase productivity as well as their enthusiasm.
Sometimes employer starts out with the best intention when they seek to recognize a worker performance. They often find their efforts turn into an opportunity for employee complaining, jealousy, and dissatisfaction. With these types of experiences, many employers are hesitant to provide employee recognition.
Research finding shows that formal, informal and day-to-day recognition programs, when linked to the organizations values and goals, can created a culture of recognition that enhances employee engagement, performances and retention.
Appreciation recognition and employee recognition are very popular. There are some similarities started above. You don’t want to design a process in which managers “select” the people to receive recognition. This type of process will be viewed forever as “favoritism” or talked about as “its your turn to get recognized this month.” This is why process that single out an individual, such as “Employee of the month,” are rarely effective.
A client company established criteria for rewarding employees. Criteria include such activies as contributing to company success serving as a customer without being asked to help by the supervisor. That’s sad to say but it happens more then anyone realize. Each employee who meets the stated criteria receives a thank you note hand- written by the supervisor. The wonderful thing about this is, the note spells out exactly why the person is receiving the recognition.
Most times the note includes the opportunity for that person to “draw” a gift from a box. The gifts range from fast food restaurants, gift certificates and some times a substantial cash reward. The person draws the reward, so no supervisory interference is perceived.
There is always room for employee rewards and recognition activities that generally build positive morals in the lab environment. Recognition is the last thing on their minds but recognition does encourage others that are just waiting to be found.

Buying, Selling & Interviewing

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
Interviewing is when two parties, potential employer and applicant, are buying and selling at once. It presents you as a manager with a unique opportunity to market your laboratory, which itself helps select the right person for the job. Adding urgency to this need is the emergence of a seller’s market in the sciences. For example, there is a shortage of medical laboratory workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 13,800 laboratory workers are needed annually to fill vacancies through 2012, but there are only 4,000 new graduates each year to fill them.1 Broader trends analyzed by the National Science Board show that the number of jobs requiring science and engineering degrees will outstrip U.S. and immigrant workers if uncorrected. But the market shouldn’t change interview dynamics. You always need to make your best pitch to attract the best candidate from a pool of workers, dwindling or brimming. A shortage sharpens this need.
Your goal is to hire the best person. During a shortage, applicants may have more options but they will always make conclusions about your laboratory based on a first impression. Employers can offer sign-on bonuses, moving assistance, or help pay student loans, but you control the first impression.
What does an interview tell an applicant? A disorganized, unprofessional interview gives a negative impression (Table 1). Worse, it keeps you from learning what you need to know to make the right decision. Realizing this helps you create a positive experience that makes your laboratory stand out from the competition (Table 2). Where do you begin? Your Human Resources department may already have an interview template that includes legal advice, a standard list of questions, and a packet of information given to all job applicants. A person from that department may sit in on each interview, or you may request a mentor. It’s important to review your organization’s hiring practices with your Human Resources department. After the hiring process is complete, you may be required to defend your decision. To be safe, you should understand what you can and can’t ask an applicant. will be contd

Work Place Disagreements

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
This process begins by understanding your coworkers. A conflict resolution technique that works well with one may not work with another. Most of us are reasonable sorts and logical arguments and a sense of shared mission makes it possible to handle disagreements in a civilized way. However, it 's important to remember that the most reasonable person may have a bad day and occasionally be difficult to deal with. Others are difficult to deal with much of the time. With them it 's, “my way or the highway. ”
When trying to get a coworker 's cooperation, certain tactics are generally useful whether or not that person is difficult to deal with. If you are trying to get the person ’s agreement to a course of action or participation in a project, describe the benefits that will accrue the other person. In the case of disagreements, identify areas where both of you do agree and build on these. Finally, ask a supervisor to adjudicate your differences only as a last resort.
work place disagreement Before beginning a discussion, you must have the other person ’s undivided attention. This means picking the right place and the right time for your discussion. Don ’t raise the subject when the person is distracted by the physical environment or another issue she is trying to resolve at the same time. If this happens when you go to see someone, quickly arrange a mutually convenient meeting place and time.
Disagreements in front others usually reflect negatively on all parties concerned. If you have a disagreement with one person, suggest a private meeting to resolve it. People often behave more aggressively when on their own “turf”. So try to hold your one-on-one meetings with them on a neutral site rather than in their office. This is often preferable to holding the meeting in your office. Should the discussion get overheated and you begin to worry about losing your temper, it is easier to leave a conference room than your own office. The one exception to this is when you are the supervisor. Having the meeting in your office reminds the difficult person of your authority. This makes them more likely to moderate their behavior.
Turn the disagreement into a negotiation and look for ways both of you can benefit from an agreement. To begin the discussion, capture their attention by briefly explaining the benefit to them of what you are about to discuss. For example, say “Sue, if you help me with project X, together we can complete it on time. Your name will go on the report. We’ll both look like heroes since the department will meet its goal of commercializing three new products this year. Alternatively, ask “If you do this for me, what can I do for you in return?” By answering the question, the difficult person has helped you defuse the situation and turn it from a confrontation into a negotiation.
Avoid becoming emotional in discussions with difficult coworkers. This includes obvious things like not becoming angry or defensive. It also means being aware of how your language could be construed by the other person. For example, in trying to understand their position, it is natural and effective to ask questions. However, consultant Len Leritz, author of No-fault Negotiating (Casa Pacifica Press, Portland, OR) recommends avoiding asking questions beginning with “why” These tend to be construed as attacking and can elicit emotional responses. Instead, ask questions beginning with “what.” These questions result in more fact-based, less emotional responses. Compare “Why do you think that?” with “What are the reasons for thinking that?” The second question is less likely to draw an emotional response and the person’s response could provide more information that will help you find areas of agreement to build on. Also, by leaving the personal pronoun “you” out of the second question, you reduce the emotional content of the question making it less threatening to the other person.
While you want to avoid becoming overly emotional during the disagreement or negotiation, show your satisfaction after wards. Express pleasure in reaching a solution the two of you are happy with or at least can “live with.” By helping your coworker share your sense of satisfaction and accomplishment (and maybe relief), you can make resolving your next disagreement easier.

Five Reasons for a Meeting

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
Before you hold your next meeting, be sure you and the others at the meeting know why it's being held. Meetings can drag on and feel like a waste of time if the goals are not clear to all in attendance.
David Allen, founder and President of a management consulting, coaching, and training company (, offers these five reasons for holding a meeting.
1. Give information: "I've brought you all together today to let you know what's been going on about the pending law suit. I'd like you to leave here today with as much background as you need to be able to answer questions that may arise from our customers."Reasons for Meeting
2. Get information: "We've invited you all here to find out from everyone what we should be aware of that's going on in your division relative to the new product roll-out. We want to know what's happening at all levels in the organization about this, so we can make some adjustments in our plans accordingly." 3. Develop options: "We'd like to spend this afternoon surfacing, formulating, and exploring as many possible ways to deal with the problem we've just uncovered in the new system implementation. We want to make sure we've got everyone's perspectives and all the possible alternatives formulated." 4. Make decisions: "We've brought you all together this morning to present to you the three proposed approaches to launching our new product, and get a consensus decision on which one to pursue."
5. Warm magical human contact: "There are three agenda items we would like to cover today. And though we could have done this by email, we wanted to have an opportunity to bring the new team together in one place, and get some time to get to know each other between the lines..."
Some meetings may only have one reason and others more than one of the five but it's important to know and share what the meeting is about so there is a greater chance of accomplishing what the meeting was intended to do. Before you schedule your next meeting, take a look at this list and determine which of the five reasons apply. It might also help to write down a short statement of purpose. This will establish a clear vision of the meeting's point and keep it on track.