Tag Archives: conflict management

Leadership Mints Series Sampler on Reprimanding Idle Employees

Busy cashiers finally got a breather.The long lines of customers in the checkout lane finally disappeared. Two cashiers on adjacent lanes capitalized on the respite. They began chatting.

A third employee joined the conversation while both cashiers visually checked to be sure no customers needed to be served. All three were engaged in a business-related conversation during the lull. Until they weren’t.

“Hey is anybody here on break or what?” barked the supervisor who seemed to suddenly barge into their threesome with a force of a bowling ball.

All three employees stopped chatting. One noted that they were discussing an important business issue regarding  safety.

The supervisor shook his head from side to side and walked away as the three employees halted their hugfest and went back to their posts even though no customers were yet in line to be served.

The three employees felt devalued more than deflated, discarded more than simply discounted. And the business no longer could count on the three employees to do their best work. They settled for going through the motions. 

The supervisor had
won the battle and lost the war.

What would a loving leader have done in the same situation to be sure idle employees stay focused on the job even when they have no customers to serve?

A loving leader might consider the ACT intervention process to help their employees remember they are on the clock, getting paid to work together not chat together: ACT stands for Acknowledge, Clarify & Teach.


A is for Acknowledge: Acknowledge the situation from the employee’s point of view. “Nice to get a chance to visit with each other when business slows down like this,” the supervisor could have said.


C is for Clarify: Clarify how the situation looks from the customer perspective. “Customers get frustrated when they sense that we see them as an intrusion in our conversation,” the supervisor could have noted.


T is for Teach. Establish the perceived tension between the customer and the cashier and teach the value in a change in behavior that first and foremost meets the employee’s needs and secondarily supports the organization’s profitability.

Of course we all know the customer is our life-blood: fewer customers , fewer sales, fewer new hires which means more work for us,” the supervisor could have said. “Thanks for staying at your posts even in slow times so we keep those customers feeling like we want to serve them and we are more able to control how hard we have to work. Otherwise, we would have to do the same amount of work with fewer employees since we would stop hiring if it begins to look like business has slowed significantly.”

Give “Bad” Employees The VIP Treatment

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help keep talented employees engaged . Reading time: 6:37.

           The retail clerk energetically raced into work and eagerly awaited taking charge of his cash register.

           He couldn’t wait to start serving his customers with a personal banter that turned the tedious jobs of both the shopper and the cashier into something more fun. He was good at what he did and everyone around him – his bosses, his peers, and his customers—knew it.

         Business was slow on this early Sunday morning. His cash register would remain silent—at least for now. His magic wand – the scanning device—would not dazzle anyone right now.

        With no customers in sight, he began sweeping and cleaning his cashier’s station. But there wasn’t any magic in that and he got bored.  He needed something to do. His boss noticed.

       The boss asked his star performer to abandon his cashier role and serve as a greeter at the main entrance. There were still no customers to greet but at least he would have a chance to interact with everyone who came into the store. And maybe create some magic.

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Conflict Management: Get Off Your Buts!!

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you maintain control in a conflict. Reading time: 2:11.

         I always smile when I think of the scene in  Star Trek the Motion Picture  where Spock and Dr. McCoy are reunited on the starship for the first time in years.   McCoy — the affable people-oriented physician —  sniffs at Spock — the cold, aloof, analytical half human science officer: “You are as warm as ever and you haven’t changed.”

Spock in the Star Trek television program

Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek television series.

         And Spock, his voice dripping with equal sarcasm, retorts: “Nor have you changed, doctor, as your continued predilection for irrelevancy demonstrates.”

        Feuding like that between McCoy and Spock — born in personality differences and bred in a high-stress work environments, is bound to happen in any organization whenever and wherever highly intelligent, ambitious, opinionated people come together. The key for effective leaders is knowing how to deflect and defuse accusatory language.

      After all, it’s too easy to look for the negative in any situation; too easy to find a flaw in the situation;  too easy to change the tone of discussion from upbeat to beat-up; too easy to say, “Yes….but…”

      That’s why the most effective leaders I have known get off their “buts!!!” They conquer conflict with something more than the standard “Yes….but” mantra. They turn their ‘buts” into ‘ands.”

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