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.
How do you fix a hostile workplace after a strike, merger or other polarizing event? How do you create a healthy workplace after a harassment or grievance investigation? It can be difficult to rebuild the trust that has been lost between members of a team or in leadership, or both. But, according to Anne Grant, you have to bring people back to a joint vision of what the workplace should be.
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!
“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.
Francine had been disciplined before. She had been suspended for 3 days, for an angry outburst that she had in the shipping department. But this time was worse. Francine was in the cafeteria, finishing her break. Three co-workers sat down at the same table, and within minutes she began yelling and swearing at them. One of them began talking to her, trying to quiet her down. She threw her cup of tea in his face, and then left the room. Francine was terminated. The letter of termination cited the company anti-violence and harassment policies.
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.
The theory of "workplace health" can be best described by comparing a workplace to a human being. As humans, our health is often affected by the choices we make regarding diet, exercise, stress and generally the way we choose to live our lives. Poor diet, excessive stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and destructive behaviours such as alcohol and drug abuse can often lead to poor health.
Jean passed the talking piece to Kimberly. You could see her shoulders straighten, a deep intake of breath, a glance around the circle of her assembled colleagues. She was steeling herself to say what was difficult but necessary. Kimberly explained that, for her, the constant putting down of customers and negativity around workplace conditions was unacceptable and made it difficult to enjoy and take pride in her work.
The 2010 Don Wood Lecture was delivered by The Honourable Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario. The Chief Justice’s lecture presented a synopsis of changes in the labour relations field. The Chief Justice spoke about the “Golden Era” of labour arbitration (1944-1967), and drawing on his experiences and observations, commented on changes in the …
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 …
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 …
We asked John Phelan – who teaches leadership at the Queen’s School of Business and has been the mental skills coach for the Ottawa Senators hockey team since 2000 – about the similarities between sports teams and organizational teams. He says that building relationships is the key to good teams and good leadership – both …
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.
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.
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.