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Better Complaints Management


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Complaints management is about understanding and improving the way workplace conflicts are addressed.

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Better Complaints Management

  1. 1. Complaints Management Version 5 August 2011
  2. 2. Complaints Management A key factor affecting the value of an employee’s contribution in work relationships is Organisational Conflict. Healthy value Cooperative Contribution Problem SolvingOrganisational Health Avoidance, Suppression, Coercive,Unhealthy value “Group Think” Aggressive, Threateningcontribution Conflict Intensity Low high Copyright David Alman 2011
  3. 3. Complaints ManagementCauses of Unhealthy Conflict Conflict Responses Consequence examples: 1. Well-being Shock Complaint • Distrust (Shock from violated valued (fight) expectations) • Distress “Moment of Truth” •2. Productivity • Lower productivity • Increased absence Disengagement • Job dissatisfaction (flight) • Lack of commitment Stress • Non supportive work (anxiety) behaviour Copyright David Alman 2011
  4. 4. Complaints Management Note: Conflict can be interpersonal or intrapersonalWorkplace Stress Factors Complaints Disengagement Factors Productivity Costs Well-being Costs (Work safe Qld) Management Examples1. Work demands • Over utilisation • More errors/exceeding a person’s •Poor work/life balance causes of accidents • Personalcapacity • Reduced effort underdevelopment2. Low level of autonomy Poor line management Quit or • Breakdown in practices underperform social development3. Poor support from Inadequate resources Underperformsupervisor/co-worker •Physical health4. Lack of role clarity, role •Under utilisation Underperform •Emotionalconflict with own values • Under valued exhaustion5. Poor relations (inc Harassment, Poor work environment - • Underperformfriction, stressed bullying hostilities • Make errors •Depression,relations, harassment) anxiety, and withdrawal6. Low levels of Fair treatment : • Poor coaching/ development • Underperformrecognition & reward (inc lack of • Lack of recognition • Reduced effortlack of development development, • Lack of advancement • Quit promotion appeal opportunities7. Poorly managed Fair treatment: • Job expectations unmet • Underperformchange Role change issues • Incapable/ bypassed • Make errors8. Organisational justice Fair treatment Lack of fair treatment Reduced effort Copyright David Alman 2011
  5. 5. Complaints Management Cost of disengagement in 2007 in Australia is estimated as $42.1 billion overall or $4,768 per person. On average: • 18% Were engaged (e.g. work with passion, and drive innovation and move the organisation forward) • 61% Not engaged (e.g. essentially “checked-out” putting in time but not energy or passion) • 21% Actively disengaged (e.g. Not just unhappy but undermine what their co-workers accomplish) 100 80 60 Engaged 40 20 Not Engaged 0 Actively DisengagedReference: Gallop Q12 Employee Engagement Poll 2008 Results Copyright David Alman 2011
  6. 6. Complaints Management Cost of conflict (e.g. Complaints) in the US was $359 billion in paid hours in 2008 (averaging 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict) Percentage of Main Causes of Conflict 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%Reference: Workplace conflict and how businesses can harness it to thrive. CCP Global, Human Capital Report July 2008. Copyright David Alman 2011
  7. 7. Complaints ManagementCost of Stress in Australia (including Presenteeism and Absenteeism):• Workplace stress costs the economy $14.81 billion a year.• Stress related presenteeism & absenteeism directly cost employers $10.11 billion.• 3.2 days per worker are lost each year through workplace stress.Reference: The cost of workplace stress in Australia. August 2008. Medibank Private Healthy Eustress Stress Distress Response Unhealthy Hypostress Hyperstress Too little Conflict intensity Too much e.g. Boredom e.g. Work Over load Copyright David Alman 2011
  8. 8. Complaints Management A key to sustaining & improving Conflict Management is Organisational Justice (sometimes referred to Organisational Fairness). Organisational Justice Principles cover Distributive; Procedural; and Interactional Justice. Distributive Justice (Fairness of decisions) Valued ExpectationsProcedural Justice Interactional Justice(Fairness of processes) (Fairness in interactions) Copyright David Alman 2011
  9. 9. Complaints ManagementThe Duality of Organisational Justice Legal Justice (Legislated & Contractual) Organisational Justice Social Justice (Social & Psychological Justice)Note: Social justice is also thefoundation of Legal Justice Copyright David Alman 2011
  10. 10. Complaints Management Basis for Handling Complaints showing the progression often used in formal Complaint & Power Grievance Processes e.g. Determination Rights e.g. Arbitration & Adjudication Interests e.g. Conciliation, Facilitation, Mediation, Collaboration Expectations e.g. Collaboration, Narrative reframing Copyright David Alman 2011
  11. 11. Complaints Management Example Lose/Lose ScenarioSocial Unfairness & theLegal Framework Legislative Based Dispute Resolution Agencies Rights “settled” but underlying cause of unfairness can remainA typical Lose/Lose Scenario.• Unless the underlying causesof conflict are addressed, theconflict remains. Dispute Resolution Process• If complaints are treated on Individual complaint (external to organisation)the basis of the presenting“events” costs of managingcomplaints can be high.• If the systemic implications of Grievance/Complaintsissues within a complaint are Perceived Social/ Processnot addressed then other Psychological Individual conflictsimilar complaints will arise Unfairness (internal to organisation)unnecessarily. Copyright David Alman 2011
  12. 12. Complaints Management Employee “Rights” Employer “Rights” (Contractual, Legal, Social & Psychological) (Legislative and Contractual arrangements)Contractual & Legal “rights” Point of Conflict• Employee rights & entitlements notapplied by organisation Legislative rights applied by the• Employee rights & entitlements organisationunfairly applied by organisation Employee contractualPsychological “rights” entitlements offered by the• Informal but accepted work organisationpractices and entitlements byemployees and organisation• Rights and entitlements assumed Employer rights not applied byby employee but not accepted by the organisationorganisation.Social “rights” Employer rights incorrectly• Rights and entitlements valued applied by the organisationoutside of the organisation, andsought. Copyright David Alman 2011
  13. 13. Complaints Management“Without an adequate conflict analysis methodology conflict resolution isoften ineffective and fails” (Tillett & French, Resolving Conflict p 76).An effective conflict analysis methodology involves a:process of analysing and diagnosing a conflict and developing a plan forresolving the conflict.A Conflict Analysis methodology covers two steps:• Effectively diagnosing the conflict; and then• Taking action to manage the conflict based on that diagnosis(Furlong, The Conflict Resolution Toolbox p3,4) Copyright David Alman 2011
  14. 14. Complaints ManagementThe Organizational Justice Model is also a Human Activity System (HAS) variant.Distributive Justice: The perception of equity, equality, and whether values and needs areaddressed by the outcome or decision (where fairness of Purpose is reflected);Procedural Justice: The perceived fairness of the processes, procedures, and policies used (wherefairness in Means are reflected);Interactional Justice : The perception of the interpersonal treatment received (where fairtreatment in Relations is reflected).In addition, at the centre of the Organizational Justice Model, are the underpinning Values andNeeds of the parties (where Meaning is reflected). Distributive Justice The Organisational Justice Model Needs & Values Procedural Interactional Justice Justice Context Copyright David Alman 2011
  15. 15. Complaints ManagementThe Conflict Analysis Chart below translates information identified using OrganisationalJustice Model criteria - Extract from a case.Note how complaints around a change management process results in two different perspectives from the partiesthat fuel rather than resolve conflict. Parties Conflict issues Legislation, Policy, Observations, goals, & Options (e.g. Context, Interactional Justice, and Procedural and underlying Values & Needs) Justice IssuesManagement Role to transfer into new organisational Authorised Complainant’s Role to be transferred structure Organisational to new unit in the revised organisation Restructure & structure, and focus & duties changed Changes insufficient to justify redundancy timetable to support new direction.Ms B. Brave Change management process leading to WH&S Legislation No Stress Risk Management Audit anxiety & uncertainty and resistance to relating to Stress Risk carried out change; management refuse to consult Management directly over role changes; lack of support requirements Focus on running to a pre-set change management timetable Increased alienation in work relationship New role scope and Proposed role duties become a focus of accountability level dispute and formal complaint issues raised Career development opportunities ignored by Non application of HR HR Fair Treatment and EEO Polices management (documented records). With Policy breached providing basis for formal role change career development affected and complaint. issue now raised as formal complaint Copyright David Alman 2011
  16. 16. Complaints ManagementComplaints can therefore be managed either by a:• Focus on “rights” through formal complaints/dispute processes which can leave underlying conflict issues to recur in other ways. Or• Focus on “Substantive” and “Relationship” issues to reduce progression into and through a formal complaints management process. – Substantive issues can be addressed using Collaborative problem solving and Facilitative problem solving methodologies. – Relationship issues can be addressed through conflict coaching, “therapeutic” mediation, and Group Work. Copyright David Alman 2011
  17. 17. Complaints ManagementSummary• Social Capital i.e. the “value of the interactions between people that affects; trust, mutualunderstanding, and cooperation” is affected by interpersonal conflict.• Organisations usually have a formal process to manage (conflict) complaints. If this process doesnot also address the underlying causes of conflict, the conflict remains.• A conflict analysis can be used to more fully understand and address the causes of a conflict. Inthis respect an Organisational Justice Model can be used to carry out a conflict analysis.• A there are a range of conflict management methodologies available to address “substantive” and“relationship” conflict issues. Copyright David Alman 2011
  18. 18. Contact Details Proventive Solutions is Brisbane based in Queensland, Australia. Enquiries are welcome. For further advice please contact David Alman on 0437797362 Other contact options include: • E-mail and Skype through the Contact Page at • LinkedIn and •Toolbox for HRPlease Note: This PowerPoint provides generic advice and application can vary.