Saturday, 11 June 2011

Conflict resolution and the workplace

Those of you that did our project management course will know that this is one of my favourite topics. iMedia teams are necessarily cross-functional with their skill sets and this can lead to more differences of opinion/perspective as a result. Then add in the different personalities and the risk for conflict increases again. It still has not been appreciated that conflict in the workplace has increased in businesses perhaps as a result of workers being squeezed for more work and the tougher working conditions during and continuing after the recession.

I was pleased to find that some figures - meaning monetary values - had started to be put against the cost of conflict in the workplace. Often it is only once a problem has been quantified in terms of money that management realise that minimising this can bring dividends. See Workplace Mediation - Dispute Resolution at Coaching 4 Success, and How to stop Conflict in the Workplace before it Happens, at eHow by Coleen Reinhart, May 2011.

£33 billion in the UK annually makes you think, doesn't it? So much management time, so much team member time and emotions all operating against productivity.

We advocated the use of ground rules where all team members (including management) agree on how to conduct themselves in any discord situation, what procedures to follow and who to use as a mediator if necessary. This signing up to ground rules continues to be a strategy that is recommended but we realised that the culture of some of your organisations might not find this acceptable. The concept of ground rules is reiterated and expanded in the Interest-based Relational Approach (IBR) section of Mindtools , Conflict Resolution - resolving conflict rationally and effectively, and Barbara Bradbury addresses the concept in a lighter fashion in Resolving Conflict - 7 Inspired Tips for leaders, May 2011.

And, just to end on a visual note for those that have a more pictorial learning style, you'll appreciate the myriad images used to try and capture that conflict moment! Which makes most sense to you?

Happy resolutions!

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