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INTRODUCTION

Before trying to find a solution to the conflict between her two nurses, Yvette Jones and Simon Peters, Kim Brown, the head nurse of geriatrics, needed to know what was going on for each of them. She would learn this by implementing Stage One of The Exchange. The essence of this stage is a private meeting with each individual. A simple enough task, yet there are important details to keep in mind as one meets with the employees individually. We will give a detailed description below of Kim's meetings with Yvette and Simon. Before that, it would be helpful to look at the fine points of Stage One.

STAGE ONE IN GREATER DETAIL

In order to create the type of environment that encourages employees to feel comfortable and facilitates real progress, managers are advised to consider the tone of the meeting. If the manager is busy looking at his or her computer, is rushing through the meeting, or is somehow distracted, this will be abundantly clear to the employee. The message will be that the manager is giving lip service to the process or to listening to the employee, but doesn't care to really engage. Managers who use the process successfully create a tone of respectful engagement and really listen to the employee's concerns. Typically, managers take about 10 to 15 minutes to conduct Stage One with each employee. This is long enough to get a picture of the situation from the person's viewpoint and short enough to keep it professional and efficient. Employees may have a fear of the joint meeting to come, so the more the manager is able to lower the anxiety level of each employee, the better the outcome will be when the two employees meet together. One manager who finds the process useful for her team tells employees:

Since we work in an intense environment, it is only natural that we encounter bumps (or "hiccups") in the road occasionally. We are just going to figure it out like we do everything else.

She believes that by normalizing the conversation, it helps her employees to see it as part of what needs to happen in a successful organization.

The manager sets the tone by opening the meeting with a quick description of what the meeting is about (sometimes it will be obvious because of an incident). The manager then:

  • Describes how the process will work. ("I am meeting with you and I will meet with Yvette; then we will all meet together to work through the issues.")

  • Lets the employee know the goal of the process. ("My goal is for the two of you to have a respectful working relationship.")

  • Reassures the employee about confidentiality.

Managers often know personal facts about an employee that cannot be shared with others. The manager needs to ...

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