It’s Conflict Resolution Day today – 19th October 2017 – a day to promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict.
At 10Eighty we work in a collaborative environment and believe in constructively working on disputes to resolve issues amicably. In any workplace there will sometimes be conflict, it can take many forms; it may be a personal grievance, a problem between employee and manager or conflict between team members, or it may be stress-related, a misunderstanding or sheer temper.
Unresolved conflict gets in the way of work and makes the organisation less effective and productive.
What’s to be done?
ACAS advises that are some key steps an employer can take to help ensure disputes and conflict don’t arise too often, and to enable them to be dealt with when they do:
- train managers to handle difficult conversations with employees
- encourage open expression of opinions
- recognise the importance of feelings
- listen to what people have to say
- focus on interests not positions and personalities
- have clear discipline, grievance and dispute procedures for dealing with conflict
- write mediation into your contracts of employment and/or individual disciplinary and grievance procedures
- consider outside help where necessary, for example, using a third party by way of mediation
At 10Eighty we think the first point is key – talk to staff. Disputes and conflict are less likely to arise when you understand your people, their values, beliefs and motivations. Have a conversation about what really matters to each employee, and listen to their concerns and aspirations. If you understand where there is stress or disengagement you may be able to deal with issues before they become problems.
Don’t use the ostrich model
We think this is an area an employer needs to think seriously about. All too often a busy manager will be inclined to hope an issue will resolve itself. If you don’t act promptly you could:
- mislead an employee by acting as though there is no problem
- deny an employee the opportunity to improve or put things right
- damage the productivity and efficiency of the organisation
- adversely affect morale amongst team members.
Training managers to engage staff in constructive, connected career conversations will pay dividends in terms of employee engagement and enable a platform where issues can be raised and stress defused.
Managers don’t spend enough time talking to staff about career aspirations and development plans it’s a shame because successful career planning requires employer and employee to have mature conversations about ambitions, aspirations, potential, opportunities and growth. It’s about optimising organisational potential so the smart organisation will ensure that managers have the competence and confidence to manage workplace conversations that could also bypass conflict.