Managing Conflict: Episode Quiz

1.
When Rebecca wrote a note to John advising that she'd gotten the impression that Samantha was having a few challenges:
  • Rationale: Rebecca did not disclose personal medical information in her note and speaking about an employee who may be struggling with challenges at work is within the scope of management's responsibilities.

  • Rationale: Ignoring the potential barriers can allow the return to work to fail. In this scenario management's approach was to proactively help the employee be successful.

  • Rationale: John is a new supervisor, but supporting employees with mental illnesses can be challenging for even seasoned managers. A 'reasonable course of action' depends on many things including the employee/manager relationship, past experiences and the employee's current state of wellness.

2.
Where possible, a 'return to work' plan should be completed:
  • Rationale: In most cases, the physician would not have sufficient knowledge of the job or the workplace to determine an effective return to work plan. Although they may provide important information about functional limitations, the return to work plan should be completed by the employer and employee and their representatives (i.e. union, occupational health, human resources, vocational rehab, disability management).

  • Rationale: Although the manager should be part of the return to work plan, they may not have enough expertise to develop the entire plan and the employee must also be involved.

  • Rationale: While many may be involved in the development of the plan including occupational health, human resources, vocational rehab or disability management, the employer, employee and union, if relevant, should be important participants.

3.
Conflict that may have existed with co-workers and/or supervisor prior to an employee's disability leave should be addressed prior to the return to work:
  • Rationale: Although getting the co-workers to agree to let the conflict go may give the employee a fresh start, if the behaviours or problems are not addressed, the conflict can begin all over again. Helping everyone to find a new way to interact is more effective in the long run.

  • Rationale: This may be more important for the employees who may be fragile. Unresolved conflict can increase stress and isolation for the returning employee.

  • Rationale: When done without blaming or shaming anyone, but rather looking at a solution that allows parties to move forward towards a solution that involves a new way of interacting, the return to work is more likely to be sustainable.

4.
Once it's clear what Sam's needs are for successful return to work, John should:
  • Rationale: There is a risk that Ann will resist being mandated to behave or act in a certain way without any consideration or discussion about her needs or feelings.

  • Rationale: Using a 3rd party (even if it is internal human resources) to resolve conflict among employees can potentially reduce the manager's influence and effectiveness. Where possible, the manager should consider having these conversations him or herself to build relationships.

  • Rationale: This begins a pattern of effective communications among all parties and eventually allows the manager to withdraw while the employees continue to build a new working relationship.

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