It is common for managers to notice that employees experiencing mental health challenges have difficulty maintaining healthy co-worker relationships. When one's mental health is out of balance, thoughts and perceptions can be distorted in such a way that it can feel like others are judging, criticizing, and/or threatening you and/or your work. At the same time, many individuals can experience self doubt, low self-esteem, irritability and difficulties with memory and concentration.
In this series of videos below, John is faced with a decision. He will be given two options, depending on which one he chooses, his day will take a turn.
Watch the videos in sequence. Some of the videos have questions to answer after watching them. Where there are videos for two possibilities, watch both, and then answer the questions after watching the second one. Your answers to questions may trigger brief additional videos.
Samantha has just returned to work from leave, and John finds out there are issues between her and Ann.
Read Rebecca's email to John.
Should John talk to Samantha and Ann and tell them to work out their issues together?
Should John ask Samantha what bugs her about Ann?
Should John ask Samantha to speculate about what Ann's thinking?
Should John ask Ann her view of what has been going on with Samantha?
Should John ask Ann for ideas on how to support Samantha?
Should John ask Ann about how to increase positive feedback for Samantha?
This website is brought to you by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.
While Ann and Samantha will probably try to comply, the unresolved issue has the potential to interfere with Sam's success at work. There may be a more effective solution.
The issue: Identifying the target of a conflict.
Although you need to understand Sam's perspective, asking for negative feedback about an individual or focusing on the problem rarely gets you to a solution. Instead, consider asking what specifically needs to be different.
Watch the video below to see why.
The issue: Moving towards a conflict resolution.
This may allow Sam to begin to see the situation from Ann's perspective, which opens up understanding. Helping her reach this on her own is usually much more effective than telling her.
Not bad, but this is deferring the issue while the tension between the two employees may continue. It's not likely to improve the work process.
The issue: Defining workplace conflict.
You left it open- ended and this gives Ann a chance to offer her opinion, but you have also indicated that Sam was talking about her. This could leave Ann feeling uneasy or defensive.
The issue: Eliciting staff commitment.
This is a direct approach, that could work, but may lead to resentment on Ann's part and bypasses the opportunity to have Ann to commit to the solution herself.
The issue: Focusing on positive motivational methods.
Good try, but remember, you really want to avoid passing on personal information or labeling the other person. It can seem like gossip or be construed as a breach of trust. There are better ways to get at the same issue.
If Ann's relationship with Sam is a source of conflict for both of them, it is important to help both parties to find a way to work together without undue stress.
When one person may have a mental illness, standard mediation may not present a level playing field because of sensitivities and vulnerabilities.
It is important to avoid disclosing personal information, but there is also a need to help each employee involved in a conflict to develop an understanding of the each other's perspective.