Dealing with challenges in the workplace


By Lizanne de Jong

One area new managers often battle with is the issue of discipline in the
workplace. This stems from the failure to deal with difficult behaviour speedily, a
lack of knowledge, or because some managers are conflict avoidant and prefer
to ignore discipline issues, or hope it goes away.

This challenge can only be addressed once managers understand the issue and
acquire the knowledge for dealing with discipline.

The knowledge component can be found in the disciplinary process of the
company which outlines the correct procedures and steps to follow when
instituting discipline in a particular organisation.

A number of grey areas exist because the law is not clear on how to handle
specific cases, or does not provide directives with regard to certain workplace

For example, absenteeism is a symptom of a bigger problem. Firstly we have
to measure absenteeism and have a benchmark - such as an industry
benchmark - to interpret our absenteeism problem. Absenteeism is a sign of
withdrawal from the organisation, and we have to look at job attitudes,
engagement and empowerment levels of employees.

If absenteeism is increasing in one department of the business, it might be
an indication of something wrong in the department. We have to investigate the
problem from a multi-viewpoint which starts with examining underlying issues of
dissatisfaction in the unit. This discipline issue must be addressed from a
procedural point of view.

New managers need to deal with the complexities of the workplace and a
very diverse workforce. Any form of discrimination, in terms of the Employment
Equity Act, but also in terms of the organisational culture should be addressed,
stopped, and prevented. Managers need to understand the different forms of
discrimination and be aware of their own assumptions, stereotypes, mental
models and deeply seated value and belief systems.

It is important for managers to ensure that their vision and expectations of
their subordinates are clearly communicated and that they have the necessary
skills and abilities to deal with problems as they arise in the workplace. For a
new manager this can be a daunting task and a difficult transition to move from
an employee to a manager.

During the People Management Skills for New Managers
course, managers will learn how to focus on their own processes in dealing with
discipline problems, how to effectively identify problems as possible symptoms
but with different causes. They will learn how to differentiate between a process
problem, a health problem or a symptom of the organisational culture. The new
manager will walk away with skills in handling themselves in difficult situations,
how to handle other people, and how to fit into the systems and processes that
exist in the organisation.

The People Management Skills for New Managers course is held by Alusani Skills and Training Network®. For more information call 011 447 7470, email [email protected] or visit Alusani Skills and Training Network