Remember those times when you were a kid, and you would fight like two wet cats with your brother, sister or best friend over some toy that 15 minutes later you could care less? Or sometimes it would go longer than that, and you’d have to resort to bringing in mom to extinguish and mediate the dispute. Oh if things were only that easy now as adults. Just bring in mom…or dad. Sorry, it’s not that easy.
But seriously, the level of the dispute determines which course of resolution is best. Oh, I’m getting too serious aren’t I. Consider somebody at work who accidently spilled coffee on your hard-drive and “killed it”. I’m talkin’, “They-might-as-well-make-your-computer-a boat-anchor” sort of bad. Are you going to take them to court? Well, of course not! You may want to kill them because you are going to have to re-do all of your work…but take them to court, that’s a little extreme. You get the point…right?
These are delicate matters with which we are dealing. We are not dealing with someone taking our toy fire truck. Oh no…these could range from breaking the dress code to verbal harassment.
Methods for solving disagreements. (Booher ,1999).
- Accommodation – one party yields to the other party’s plan. This is and excellent strategy when the issue is more important to one of the parties.
- Compromise – melding both parties desires into an agreeable alternative.
- Overpowering – use in an emergency situation when quick action is necessary for a higher goal.
- Collaboration – joining forces with others to achieve both parties’ goals. This is an excellent alternative when a long-term relationship is involved and buy-in from others is required.
Here are a couple of the “systems” that are out there to give you the “hammer and nails” to get the issues resolved. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and conflict resolution design are innovative systems to resolve disputes between employees (Anonymous, 1999). ADR is a very proactive system. According to The Canadian Manager (1999), “Conflict resolution design refers to proactive development, in consultation with employees, of customized formal and informal processes to address workplace conflict.” Obviously, these are very formal resolution systems…and very effective. Yet these systems are like quality garden tools, they are only as good as the people using them. Get the picture? Those involved need training, and training…and how about some more training. Yeah, that’s about right.
Do you want to see some formal processes? Well, of course you so do. That’s why you’re here. Oh, when you use these processes, they aren’t referred to as formal for nothing, I suggest you wear a suit and tie.
Formal processes include: (Anonymous 1999)
- Facilitation – third party facilitates communication and interest-based resolution in dispute. The facilitator could be a manager.
- Conciliation – third party conveys messages between the parties who are unwilling to meet face-to-face. The third party identifies common interests and re-establishes direct communication between the parties.
- Mediation – a formal process where the third party has no decision making power but helps parties develop common ground rules from negotiation.
- Arbitration – a formal process where the third party renders a decision on legal merits.
Can your present outcomes over teamwork disagreements improve? Your managers as well as your employees must be proactive with one another. Hey people, create a culture of free communication flow. When you say there is an “open-door” policy, don’t turn the environment defensive. If an employee comes with a concern or violation…as the manager, don’t get defensive. A defensive posture by managers will only cause employees to NOT go through channels…and that can prove even more detrimental in the long-run. Listen to what co-workers are saying. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
The benefits of establishing dispute resolution processes are more than I am able to count on one hand. Your business will find reducing conflict increases productivity, the rate of conflict-related absenteeism will decrease. Commitment to employees will foster trust and loyalty and staff will be held accountable for their actions (Anonymous, 1999). So, get your butt in gear and implement a conflict resolution policy.
The time to act is now!
Anonymous. (1999 Spring). Resolving Workplace Disputes [7 pages], The Canadian Manager. Available: http://proquest.umi.com/pdqweb?Did=00000004038758&Fmt=3&Deli=1&Mtd=1&Idx=42&Sid=1&RQT=309
Booher, D. (1999). Resolving Conflicts [10 pages], Executive Excellence. Available: http://proquest.umi.com/pdqweb?Did=000000041232562&Fmt=4&Deli=1&Mtd=1&Idx=27&Sid=1&RQT=309
Cook, C. (2004 May), Rules of Engagement; Tips for playing a winning marketing game. [2 pages] Network Journal. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
DeVoe, D. (1999). Don’t Let Conflict Get You Off Course [7 page], InfoWorld Publications. Available: http://proquest.umi.com/pdqweb?Did=0000000043775269&Fmt=1Deli=1&Mtd=1&Idx=2&Sid=1&RQT=309
Jain, S. (1999). Marketing: Planning and Strategy. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing.
Meyers, J.R. (1999). To Build A Team, You’ve Got To Tear Down Walls [5 pages], Purchasing. Available: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?Did=000000043827692&Fmt=3&Deli=1&MTD=1&Idx=3&Sid=3&RQT=309
Searle, L. (2002), Has talent, needs customers. [6 pages] Strategy & Leadership. Available: http://proquest.umi.comTweet