Conflict Management: Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration
Conflict within an organisation or workplace is very costly. It results in personal stress and frustration for the individuals involved and can create a toxic environment for all. This can significantly prevent an organisation from achieving its goals.
Increasingly, the courts are imposing obligations on organisations to investigate and respond to conflict and allegations of wrongdoing within the workplace and to protect employees. Human Rights legislation, anti-harassment policies and the expectation for a safe and respectful workplace require organisations to do their due diligence. A failure to deal with employee complaints and to conduct an appropriate workplace investigation can be a significant source of liability for an organisation.
Our approach: A thorough examination and analysis of a particular conflict situation and/or an organisation’s overall culture with a view to recommending an appropriate resolution process.
A comprehensive tailored strategy is employed for working through divisive and challenging issues and building and maintaining a collaborative work atmosphere. This includes investigation and analysis, areas of human resource management, alternative dispute resolution including negotiation, mediation and facilitation, team building, conflict resolution process design, skills training and coaching . Our focus is on identifying the root causes of conflict and drawing on all available disciplines to implement practical solutions that rebuild and restore a positive and healthy workplace environment.
We will moderate discussions, establish communication guidelines, balance participation, provide feedback, keep discussions focused and work towards solutions agreeable to everyone on the team. Facilitation fosters collaboration and builds consensus.
International conflict management
Special consideration should be paid to conflict management between two parties from distinct cultures. In addition to the everyday sources of conflict, “misunderstandings, and from this counterproductive, pseudo conflicts, arise when members of one culture are unable to understand culturally determined differences in communication practices, traditions, and thought processing” (Borisoff & Victor, 1989).
Indeed, this has already been observed in the business research literature. Renner (2007) recounted several episodes where managers from developed countries moved to less developed countries to resolve conflicts within the company and met with little success due to their failure to adapt to the conflict management styles of the local culture. As an example, in Kozan’s study noted above, he noted that Asian cultures are far more likely to use a harmony model of conflict management. If a party operating from a harmony model comes in conflict with a party using a more confrontational model, misunderstandings above and beyond those generated by the conflict itself will arise.
International conflict management, and the cultural issues associated with it, is one of the primary areas of research in the field at the time, as existing research is insufficient to deal with the ever increasing contact occurring between international entities.
When personal conflict leads to frustration and loss of efficiency, counseling may prove to be a helpful antidote. Although few organisations can afford the luxury of having professional counselors on the staff, given some training, managers may be able to perform this function. Nondirective counseling, or “listening with understanding,” is little more than being a good listener—something every manager should be.
Sometimes the simple process of being able to vent one’s feelings—that is, to express them to a concerned and understanding listener, is enough to relieve frustration and make it possible for the frustrated individual to advance to a problem-solving frame of mind, better able to cope with a personal difficulty that is affecting his work adversely. The nondirective approach is one effective way for managers to deal with frustrated subordinates and co-workers.
There are other more direct and more diagnostic ways that might be used in appropriate circumstances. The great strength of the nondirective approach (nondirective counseling is based on the client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers), however, lies in its simplicity, its effectiveness, and the fact that it deliberately avoids the manager counselor’s diagnosing and interpreting emotional problems, which would call for special psychological training. No one has ever been harmed by being listened to sympathetically and understandingly. On the contrary, this approach has helped many people to cope with problems that were interfering with their effectiveness on the job.