During one of our Strategies for Workplace Conflicts programs, a participant commented that she told her staff that she didn’t “DO emotion!” I really appreciated her forthright statement which led to a valuable discussion about the place of emotion in the workplace. How do we handle the expression of emotion? Are emotions welcome or not? How do we handle an emotional outburst in a meeting or deal with strong negative emotions between two co-workers in conflict? How do we deal with our own emotions?
Strategies for Workplace Conflicts
Conflict is tough for most of us. According to many physiologists, we tend to tap into several simple strategies when faced with conflict: fight, flight, or freeze. As a result, we likely aren't reducing unnecessary conflicts, and effectively dealing with necessary conflicts in productive ways. So many opportunities are lost because we aren’t engaging well. Being effective at conflict, both in a proactive and reactive way, demands that we work at it as an ongoing and everyday activity. In essence, it is a lifestyle choice in how we talk, problem solve, inquire with others, and arrange our processes and teams.
It is common for employees to seek help from their manager if they are experiencing conflict or relationship challenges in the workplace. What are your options as a manager to respond in a way that provides benefits to the employee, to the workplace as a whole and to you? Consider this scenario: You are Karen’s manager.
In the Queen’s IRC Strategies for Workplace Conflicts course, we start by asking participants what they would particularly like help with in their workplace. A common response is “difficult / high conflict people”. However you define it, this is a huge challenge in today’s workplace and, unless it is handled well, it takes significant time, energy and expertise away from the work to be done. Most people have heard about Serena Williams’ public outburst at the U.S. Open this fall. Her behaviour and words were shocking and unexpected.
A habit can be defined as a “usual manner of behavior.” But what I know about conflict is that there is often nothing “usual” about it. What happens to those of us who support others in conflict is that we tend to reach for the same set of tools each time, although we often are trying to solve very different problems. Even with the best of intentions, these habits can result in frustration, shallow or even bad resolutions, and won’t meet the needs of the people in conflict.
It may seem like an oxymoron to have the words “benefit” and “conflict” in the same sentence. Our workplaces today often involve varying levels of interpersonal and institutional conflict and so much energy is devoted to prevention and management it is understandably difficult to understand how conflict could possibly have a positive side!
There’s a great deal of talk about high performance organizations and teams these days. In a rapidly moving global economy that increasingly relies on big data and technology, we all recognize the advantage of using information and systems to help drive innovation and set goals. But how do we determine which models are most appropriate for our organization’s unique needs?
Do you know about Botlr, the robot who delivers room service requests to guests at the Aloft Starwood Hotel in California? How about Brian, a robot that provides companionship to seniors in a nursing home? Robots are just one example of how technology is affecting the workplace, and changing the skills that humans will require in the future.
“Leading from behind” is a natural approach in the outdoors. It is natural in organizations too. It may sound like a passive or ineffective way to approach the challenge of being an effective leader, but I found, both in the outdoors and in organizational leadership positions, that this is the most powerful way to guide a group.
This article will discuss how familiar private and public employment sector conflict management concepts, practices and training were applied and adapted by the Department of National Defence's Conflict Management Program to prepare military units and individuals for the exigencies of overseas operations.
How can organizational leaders help to create healthy, conflict-friendly workplaces? Bernard Mayer, a Queen’s IRC Facilitator who is an international expert in conflict resolution and mediation, shares insights for managers in the following Q & A. What is a ‘conflict-friendly’ environment? The key here is to acknowledge that organizations, communities and relationships need conflict. It …
The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s …
In his research and practice, Queen’s IRC Facilitator and mediator Gary Furlong has found that when it comes to real-life conflict, one size does not fit all. In the following sampling from his new book, The Conflict Resolution Toolbox, Gary discusses the value of the Circle of Conflict as a multi-purpose tool — one of …
An expert in managing conflict, Dr. John S. Andrew teaches negotiation at Queen’s School of Urban and Regional Planning; provides independent facilitation and mediation services to parties involved inland use, environmental, and transportation disputes; and leads executive seminars on strategic consensus-building in corporate real estate. Dr. Andrew spoke with us about what makes a good …
On November 2 to 3, 2001, scholars, unionists, employee relations professionals, dispute resolution practitioners, and representatives from industry and government attended a special symposium on the State of the Art and Practice in Dispute Resolution. The symposium was held to pay tribute to the late Dr. Bryan M. Downie, an outstanding scholar and practitioner in …
Drawing on detailed interviews with experienced med-arbiters from the Grievance Settlement Board, this study looks at the advantages of “med-arb”, in which parties attempt to reach voluntary agreements before proceeding to arbitration.
If Canadian industries are to compete successfully in the new economy, unions and management must move away from their traditional adversarial relationships. This study analyzes a conflict resolution method, known as Relationships by Objectives (RBO), that directs unions and management away from conflict and towards cooperation through joint problem solving. RBO was part of the Preventive Mediation Program provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour beginning in 1978.
Learn how a strategic grievance procedure can improve labour management relations. This current issues paper explores the four key roles of a grievance procedure, secondary roles, and how solid procedure facilitates conflict management and dispute resolution.
Dispute resolution is an integral part of management. Almost seventy-five percent of job-related stress is generated by internal disputes, and more than eighty-five percent of people leaving their jobs do so because of some perceived internal conflict.
This article offers suggestions on how labour and management can deal effectively with conflict. It is an excerpt from a speech given at the First Annual Labour Arbitration Conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 31, 1997.
The rise of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to provide more efficient and less expensive methods of settling disputes, and the advantages and requirements for the success of ADR and mediation, are covered in this paper.
This research paper traces the development of Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) as a way of resolving human rights issues internally without involving third parties. It also provides detailed practical advice for designing IDR programs, which improve employee morale and cost less when compared with more traditional, formal procedures.
Where once Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) referred to an alternative to the courts, ADR in the field of labour relations is increasingly being referred to as an alternative to arbitration. The objectives of ADR and the newly emerging Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) are to settle disputes prior to having to go to binding arbitration over which the parties have little control. ADR and IDR are recognized as giving the parties greater direct voice in fashioning remedies and more timely settlements.
We are in a period of profound change. The combination of new technology, global trade and recurring recessions has resulted in the demise of many Canadian workplaces and the restructuring and re-engineering of many others. Today's watchwords have become 'flexibility' and 'competitiveness.'
Responding to a growing interest in the subject in recent years, this study is intended to improve our understanding of conflict management and dispute resolution systems in nonunionized workplaces in Canada. It sets out the key reasons for the increased interest in effective systems, describes the various procedures being used, and evaluates their effectiveness. The authors identify the strengths and pitfalls of various systems.