Level Seven’s 7 Steps to Building a Conflict Resolution Strategy
Step 1 – Acknowledge the potential for conflict. Although it can often feel negative, conflict can be viewed as a natural part of human relationships. We each have different beliefs, values and personal characteristics and inevitably these can lead to conflict. If we accept that conflict is part of working life, this gives us a common basis on which to eliminate blame and build resolution strategies in a constructive way.
Step 2 – Role model positive behaviours. Leading and managing people is a lot like being a parent: your staff need to see standards and expectations in practice to be able to appreciate what is required. If you behave with integrity, authenticity and congruence with company values this will encourage people to adopt the same behaviours which reduces the risk of conflict occurring. Read about how to be a role model: http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/p14216/Think-Cranfield/2010/February-2010/Are-you-a-good-role-model
Step 3 – Ensure grievance and disciplinary procedures are robust and fit for purpose. Effective conflict resolution requires both formal and informal processes to be in place. Codes of Practice require organisations to have written procedures for handling grievance and disciplinary situations. Whilst these tend to encourage an adversarial approach to conflict resolution, they do provide clear and structured frameworks for conflict handling and ensure that organisations address any legal risks in such situations. See the Acas Guide: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2179
Step 4 – Enhance formal procedures with an informal mediation process. The adversarial nature of formal conflict resolution procedures can be less than helpful in addressing more complex relationship based issues. Mediation is a process that is informal and voluntary and supports open conversations between parties in conflict supported by a trained facilitator. There is no blame or threat of punishment and parties are supported in finding a solution between them which they agree and own. This increases the scope for implementation and sustainability of the resolution. Find out how we can help: http://www.level7live.com/services/conflict-resolution/
Step 5 – Develop in house conflict handling skills. Developing in house conflict handling skills can be a wise investment. There are four levels at which this can be implemented – 1. training employees in how to approach and resolve their own conflict issues; 2. training managers and supervisors to help resolve issues in their teams that were not resolved at level 1; 3. training HR professionals in conflict resolution skills so that they can provide support when managers are unable to resolve issues; 4. training an in-house pool of mediators to help resolve conflict across the organisation. Find out how we can help you to train key stakeholders in invaluable mediation skills and techniques: http://www.level7live.com/services/conflict-resolution/488-2/
Step 6 – Formalise access to a mediator service. Sometimes conflict situations arise that are sensitive and require a degree of confidentiality that only an external mediator can provide. This may be because the conflict is at senior level or involves a sensitive relationship. It may be that the organisation feels that there is too much previous internal involvement in the issue that would undermine confidence from the parties in an impartial resolution. It is important to ensure that an external mediator is chosen carefully and that they have the experience and credentials to deliver. Experience of a sector or industry is less important than having skills, experience and ethical values about mediation. Find out how to access a Level Seven mediator: http://www.level7live.com/services/conflict-resolution/confidential-mediation-service/
Step 7 – Ongoing review and support of all processes. Your conflict resolution strategy needs to be continually reviewed so that it remains fit for purpose. A process of reflection on practices and outcomes should be an inherent part of the strategy, gathering feedback as a matter of course from the formal procedures, internal conflict resolution mechanisms and external mediation services. Confidentially, feedback should be sought from facilitators and participants as this builds confidence in the strategy and also helps embed it into day to day practice and culture.