How to Resolve Conflict over Employee Involvement

There is a war taking place in corporate America.  In some ways it’s good that it is taking place but it does not change the fact that it is difficult.  One side of the battlefield are those who are of the opinion that the employee is the expert and should have the final say in majority with the other employees.  The other side is agreeing and saying yes the employee is the expert in what they do, but management is the expert in deciding the tactics and strategies of the business. 

This is a good thing to work through for business culture because honestly both are focused on making sure the employees are involved and offering their knowledge and experience to make improvements.  Of course it is not all good, because sides are still divided between management and villains are made in the process.  While employees win because their opinions are sought after regardless of what side is active, they lose because their leaders are divided.

How can peace be achieved among managers who feel very passionately on both sides of the argument?  How can the leadership team unite while having different philosophies on engagement?  Unfortunately there may be no clear or easy answer.  However I have a suggestion, and keep in mind it is not something I am personally great at, but am working towards.  It is to make sure that even in the middle of a disagreement we are not assuming the worst in the other person.  There are many reasons this is helpful, but the most important one is making sure you don’t create an imagined enemy out of your co-worker.  Disagreement on any topic could be rooted more in the difficulties of understanding one another than they are about someone intentionally trying to hurt the other person.

The reality is that both opinions are not wrong, however there may be one that works better for your business than the other.  Your team has to make that choice though and it should be done upfront if you are planning on doing more improvement activities or want to start employee engagement teams.  There are plenty of business contexts where an employee while not being a manager can offer a tactic or strategy that works.  There are other times where management just has to make a decision.  If your leadership team is looking to figure this out, you may want to simply start by asking what is the person’s scope of responsibility?  An employee may only do one or two things on a regular basis.  While a manager is required to maintain a larger picture.  So in the case of deciding on tactics and strategies the manager should not give away their decision making power in the name of employee engagement, the engagement is still there for the employees but their involvement does not need to be the final decision.

Leave a Comment