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CONFLICTS IN THE WORKPLACE   Bill Taylor Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediator UW Cooperative Extension Community Development Area Educator
Objectives Today Talk about an excellent workplace  Summarize some of the conflicts that occur in the workplace Discuss strategies to overcome conflicts 2
An Excellent Workplace What are the outcomes of an excellent workplace? 3
Outcomes of an excellent workplace Achieves the business’ purpose efficiently Positions the business for the future. Protects, maintains, informs, and grows its workforce and leadership 4
Excellent Workplace What are the characteristics of an excellent workplace? 5
Characteristics of an excellent workplace  Employees operate as a team Outcomes are accurately measured Business goals and processes periodically reviewed and revised as necessary 6
Characteristics of an excellent workplace (cont.) Leadership and productivity are encouraged and rewarded. A safe environment = respect, trust, communication, creativity, follow-through, completion, assessment, and recognition. Conflicts are resolved efficiently People want to work there 7
Characteristics of an effective team A clear goal A results-driven structure Competent members Unified commitment A collaborative climate High standards that are understood by all Receive external support and encouragement Principled leadership 8
Characteristics of an effective team (cont.) The organizational structure and environment must  facilitate information sharing supply a problem-solving mechanism. seamlessly provide changes in team membership and leadership 9
Characteristics of an effective team (cont.) What is the impact on a team if it lacks one or more of these elements? 10
Alta Electronics Please read the general information and assigned confidential information for your character You have twenty (20) minutes to complete the role-play 11
How did it go?  What was the outcome? Were you satisfied with it? Why or why not? 12
Were elements of an excellent team missing? a clear goal? a results-driven structure? competent members? unified commitment? 13
Were elements of an excellent team missing? (cont.) collaborative climate? high standards that are understood by all? external support and encouragement? principled leadership? 14
Were elements of an excellent team missing? (cont.) How did not having one or more of these elements affect this negotiation? 15
For the engineers:   How would you describe your character’s negotiation style in this role-play?  Did you make any promises you did not intend to keep? How did this negotiation feel? Do you think the decision reached best serves the company’s business interests? 16
Questions:   What facilitation tactics did Fran Meltzer use? 17
For Fran Meltzer:  Who led the meeting?  Why? Were you present during the meeting? How did your presence affect the negotiation?  How would you describe your involvement in these discussions (e.g., passive, advocate, mediator, etc.)?  What specific tactics did you employ?  Why?  18
For Fran Meltzer (cont.):  How did the employees decide?   Do you think this decision was appropriate for the employees rather than you to make? Do you think the decision is correct? Will you enforce any side agreements they reached? 19
How will this negotiation impact your subsequent negotiations and interactions with others in the company? If you could go back and restructure this meeting, what ground-rules would you suggest? Why? For Everybody:  20
Workplace Conflicts What conflicts arise in workplaces?  How were these conflicts reflected in the role-play? 21
Conflict generally involves: Interdependent people Perceived differences in goals Perceptions that each’s interests—substantive, procedural, values—cannot simultaneously be satisfied. Perceived interference 22
Types of conflicts in the workplace Externally— With customers and suppliers. With outside regulators. Internally— With fellow employees (peer conflicts). Between managers. Between managers and subordinates. 23
How important are internal conflicts in the workplace? A 1998 Corp of Engineer study reported: …30% of first-line supervisors’ time and 25 % of all management time is spent on resolving disputes. More than 85% of those leaving jobs do so because of some perceived  conflict. Almost 75% of job stress is created by disputes. 24
Causes of Workplace Conflict Most conflicts arise as a result of: disagreements regarding a final outcome (distribution of income, responsibilities, etc.). principles or values used in making choices. Process used in making a selection 25
Causes of Workplace Conflict Most conflicts arise as a result of (cont.): Psychological dissatisfaction with how the person felt treated in the process employed. Misunderstandings tied to miscommunications Cognitive biases Personal dislikes Others? 26
Workplace conflicts are more complex . . . because parties have an on-going relationship These conflicts often recur over time People make trade-offs Outcomes build reputation within the organization and this impacts trust in one another 27
Workplace conflicts are as much about clarifying the relationship as the facts in dispute 28
What happens during a workplace conflict? Emotions rise. Communication decreases and becomes more indirect (triangularization) Opponents are demonized Sides are taken; camps are formed in the organization Issues become blurred and new issues added 29
What happens during a workplace conflict? Differences are magnified;  similarities minimized Competitive processes (including rigid commitments and dirty tricks) are increasingly employed Employees stop helping, attempt to avoid the workplace 30
Benefits to Conflict:   identify problems that need to be solved bring about change change the way we think about things help clarify our purpose, what’s important to us or the organization. 31
Benefits to Conflict (cont):  Opportunity for personal and group leadership development Organizational/interpersonal growth and commitment Creative decision making Others?    32
Responses to Conflict People respond differently to conflict. Not acting does not necessarily mean the person believes the conflict is not real. Becoming frightened, angry, upset does not necessarily represent disrespect for others. 33
How do you respond to conflict?  Personal Conflict Style Inventory  34
Debriefing:  What was your dominant negotiation style? Did your style differ in calm vs. storm periods? How might you use such information (about yourself or others) in dealing with a workplace conflict? 35
Potential responses to conflict Do nothing:  Yield (and change your beliefs) Yield (and retain your beliefs) Stonewall/Avoidance Exit (flight) 36
Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Fight (exercise power): Guerrilla warfare:  Looks like doing nothing but isn't Open warfare 37
Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Negotiate:   Contend.  Try to win;  defeat the other side Compromise.  Split the difference;  find the middle Problem Solve.  Look for new solutions which address the concerns of all parties 38
Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Seek Assisted Negotiation: Use a third party to aid in finding a mutually agreeable solution to a shared problem  Mediation Factfinder Ombudsman 39
Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Rely on a third party decisionmaker Supervisor Arbitrator  Court 40
What factors influence a person’s conflict resolution strategy? Importance of the relationship Importance of the substantive outcome Relative power of the parties Transaction Costs  Structure surrounding the interaction Party’s values 41
Do relationships create problems in workplace conflicts? 42
Activity:  The Ladder of Inference 43
Tools to help prevent conflict in the workplace	 Don’t be afraid to confront the conflict Provide a process  Educate everyone on the process  44
Active Listening  Communication Blockers Advising Judging Analyzing/Diagnosing Questioning Reassuring/Minimizing 45
Open Questions Examples: Probing questions:  ask for more info Clarifying:  sharpen your understanding of what has been said Justifying:  ask for evidence for the view they’ve expressed Consequential:  reality testing, ask about potential solutions or look at potential consequences  46
Other Listening Tools Paraphrase Take notes  Demonstrate that you hear what they are saying  47
Reframing  Definition:  responding to the speaker in a way that validates what they are feeling but also helps them move forward  48 “What I heard you say…”
Positions v. Interests Positions = statements or demands framed as solutions  Interests = what each party needs for resolution (needs, concerns, hopes, etc.)  49
Examples:	 “There will be no pets in this house.”  “I want $250 for the damaged wall.” “I absolutely need Dani to work on this project and no one else.”  50
Why do negotiations breakdown?   Substantive problems Data problems Perception problems Dirty tricks Structural problems Value conflicts Relationship problems 51
Nonverbal Cues Eye contact Body language  Space  52
Definition of Mediation: A voluntary and confidential process by which a trained, neutral third party negotiates with primary decision makers to reach mutually agreed upon solutions. 53
Mediation in Wyoming Voluntary & confidential Trained, neutral third-party  Primary decision-makers Mutually-agreed upon solutions  54
CONFLICT:  When to bring in a Mediator  Reached impasse  Both sides want to resolve the issue  Tried to negotiate  High emotion  55
The Role of the Mediator  Help the parties overcome the substantive, relationship, structural, value, data, etc. problems that have previously prevented them from reaching an agreement.   56
HOW? Control the negotiation environment  Move the parties from positions to interests Identify which problems are preventing agreement Look for win-win options 57
The Mediation Process Intake Mediation Session Mediator asks each party three questions Tell me about the events that have brought you here today. What would like to see come out of today’s session? What happens if we can’t come to an agreement? 58
Mediation Process (cont.) Identify the Issues  Option generation Agreement Post Mediation:  Follow-up Evaluation  59
Issues that belong in Mediation  Behaviors:	 How people treat each other Communicating about problems Things & Money: Property  Reimbursement Repairs Loans 60
Structure & Systems: Procedures Schedules Access 	 Issues that belong in Mediation  61
Issues that Usually Cannot be Mediated 	 Determining the truth of what happened Determining fault & punishment Abusive behaviors 62
Special issues in the workplace Sexual Harassment:   Misunderstanding or unwelcome behavior results more from habits and outlook rather than malicious motives  Problem detected early on Not appropriate: cases of quid pro quo or maliciously motivated Rules & regulations  63
Special issues in the workplace (cont.) Wide gap in power between the parties  The real decision-maker is not present Investigation and disclosure needed before fair negotiations can take place  64
Mediation in the Workplace: CDR Associates suggests using workplace mediation when: You are concerned about the acceptability of the decision. You want the parties to have technical input into the decision. 65
Mediation in the Workplace CDR Associates suggests using workplace mediation when (cont.): You are willing to delegate some or all decision-making authority regarding the issue at hand to the parties. You have not already made a decision. You have the authority to use mediation (and delegate authority). You have the time to allow parties to deliberate about a decision.  66
Why use Mediation? Time-saving Cost-saving Expert third parties Creative Confidential Transformative Permits participants to finally hear each other  67
Remember:  There are times that it is important that a court: Make a finding of right or wrong  Establish precedent Overcome power differentials and ensure truth  68
What can Mediation accomplish?  69
Realistically . . .  Resolve the conflict  Improve communication Repair the relationship Allow both parties the chance to move forward Give parties time to make a decision Give parties information to continue with their appeal  70
Final thoughts: Mediation can be an excellent tool in some (but not all) conflicts.  One of the most important pre-meeting responsibilities of mediators is to determine if mediation is right for this conflict. 71
Final thoughts (cont.): Conflict is a natural part of life, particularly business life. Conflict is not always negative It is important to understand how you and others deal with conflict 72
Lucy Pauley Mediation Coordinator (307) 777-8788 Email:  lpaule@state.wy.us 73

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Workplace Conflicts

  • 1. CONFLICTS IN THE WORKPLACE Bill Taylor Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediator UW Cooperative Extension Community Development Area Educator
  • 2. Objectives Today Talk about an excellent workplace Summarize some of the conflicts that occur in the workplace Discuss strategies to overcome conflicts 2
  • 3. An Excellent Workplace What are the outcomes of an excellent workplace? 3
  • 4. Outcomes of an excellent workplace Achieves the business’ purpose efficiently Positions the business for the future. Protects, maintains, informs, and grows its workforce and leadership 4
  • 5. Excellent Workplace What are the characteristics of an excellent workplace? 5
  • 6. Characteristics of an excellent workplace Employees operate as a team Outcomes are accurately measured Business goals and processes periodically reviewed and revised as necessary 6
  • 7. Characteristics of an excellent workplace (cont.) Leadership and productivity are encouraged and rewarded. A safe environment = respect, trust, communication, creativity, follow-through, completion, assessment, and recognition. Conflicts are resolved efficiently People want to work there 7
  • 8. Characteristics of an effective team A clear goal A results-driven structure Competent members Unified commitment A collaborative climate High standards that are understood by all Receive external support and encouragement Principled leadership 8
  • 9. Characteristics of an effective team (cont.) The organizational structure and environment must facilitate information sharing supply a problem-solving mechanism. seamlessly provide changes in team membership and leadership 9
  • 10. Characteristics of an effective team (cont.) What is the impact on a team if it lacks one or more of these elements? 10
  • 11. Alta Electronics Please read the general information and assigned confidential information for your character You have twenty (20) minutes to complete the role-play 11
  • 12. How did it go? What was the outcome? Were you satisfied with it? Why or why not? 12
  • 13. Were elements of an excellent team missing? a clear goal? a results-driven structure? competent members? unified commitment? 13
  • 14. Were elements of an excellent team missing? (cont.) collaborative climate? high standards that are understood by all? external support and encouragement? principled leadership? 14
  • 15. Were elements of an excellent team missing? (cont.) How did not having one or more of these elements affect this negotiation? 15
  • 16. For the engineers: How would you describe your character’s negotiation style in this role-play? Did you make any promises you did not intend to keep? How did this negotiation feel? Do you think the decision reached best serves the company’s business interests? 16
  • 17. Questions: What facilitation tactics did Fran Meltzer use? 17
  • 18. For Fran Meltzer: Who led the meeting? Why? Were you present during the meeting? How did your presence affect the negotiation? How would you describe your involvement in these discussions (e.g., passive, advocate, mediator, etc.)? What specific tactics did you employ? Why? 18
  • 19. For Fran Meltzer (cont.): How did the employees decide? Do you think this decision was appropriate for the employees rather than you to make? Do you think the decision is correct? Will you enforce any side agreements they reached? 19
  • 20. How will this negotiation impact your subsequent negotiations and interactions with others in the company? If you could go back and restructure this meeting, what ground-rules would you suggest? Why? For Everybody: 20
  • 21. Workplace Conflicts What conflicts arise in workplaces? How were these conflicts reflected in the role-play? 21
  • 22. Conflict generally involves: Interdependent people Perceived differences in goals Perceptions that each’s interests—substantive, procedural, values—cannot simultaneously be satisfied. Perceived interference 22
  • 23. Types of conflicts in the workplace Externally— With customers and suppliers. With outside regulators. Internally— With fellow employees (peer conflicts). Between managers. Between managers and subordinates. 23
  • 24. How important are internal conflicts in the workplace? A 1998 Corp of Engineer study reported: …30% of first-line supervisors’ time and 25 % of all management time is spent on resolving disputes. More than 85% of those leaving jobs do so because of some perceived conflict. Almost 75% of job stress is created by disputes. 24
  • 25. Causes of Workplace Conflict Most conflicts arise as a result of: disagreements regarding a final outcome (distribution of income, responsibilities, etc.). principles or values used in making choices. Process used in making a selection 25
  • 26. Causes of Workplace Conflict Most conflicts arise as a result of (cont.): Psychological dissatisfaction with how the person felt treated in the process employed. Misunderstandings tied to miscommunications Cognitive biases Personal dislikes Others? 26
  • 27. Workplace conflicts are more complex . . . because parties have an on-going relationship These conflicts often recur over time People make trade-offs Outcomes build reputation within the organization and this impacts trust in one another 27
  • 28. Workplace conflicts are as much about clarifying the relationship as the facts in dispute 28
  • 29. What happens during a workplace conflict? Emotions rise. Communication decreases and becomes more indirect (triangularization) Opponents are demonized Sides are taken; camps are formed in the organization Issues become blurred and new issues added 29
  • 30. What happens during a workplace conflict? Differences are magnified; similarities minimized Competitive processes (including rigid commitments and dirty tricks) are increasingly employed Employees stop helping, attempt to avoid the workplace 30
  • 31. Benefits to Conflict: identify problems that need to be solved bring about change change the way we think about things help clarify our purpose, what’s important to us or the organization. 31
  • 32. Benefits to Conflict (cont): Opportunity for personal and group leadership development Organizational/interpersonal growth and commitment Creative decision making Others? 32
  • 33. Responses to Conflict People respond differently to conflict. Not acting does not necessarily mean the person believes the conflict is not real. Becoming frightened, angry, upset does not necessarily represent disrespect for others. 33
  • 34. How do you respond to conflict? Personal Conflict Style Inventory 34
  • 35. Debriefing: What was your dominant negotiation style? Did your style differ in calm vs. storm periods? How might you use such information (about yourself or others) in dealing with a workplace conflict? 35
  • 36. Potential responses to conflict Do nothing: Yield (and change your beliefs) Yield (and retain your beliefs) Stonewall/Avoidance Exit (flight) 36
  • 37. Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Fight (exercise power): Guerrilla warfare: Looks like doing nothing but isn't Open warfare 37
  • 38. Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Negotiate: Contend. Try to win; defeat the other side Compromise. Split the difference; find the middle Problem Solve. Look for new solutions which address the concerns of all parties 38
  • 39. Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Seek Assisted Negotiation: Use a third party to aid in finding a mutually agreeable solution to a shared problem Mediation Factfinder Ombudsman 39
  • 40. Potential responses to conflict (cont.) Rely on a third party decisionmaker Supervisor Arbitrator Court 40
  • 41. What factors influence a person’s conflict resolution strategy? Importance of the relationship Importance of the substantive outcome Relative power of the parties Transaction Costs Structure surrounding the interaction Party’s values 41
  • 42. Do relationships create problems in workplace conflicts? 42
  • 43. Activity: The Ladder of Inference 43
  • 44. Tools to help prevent conflict in the workplace Don’t be afraid to confront the conflict Provide a process Educate everyone on the process 44
  • 45. Active Listening Communication Blockers Advising Judging Analyzing/Diagnosing Questioning Reassuring/Minimizing 45
  • 46. Open Questions Examples: Probing questions: ask for more info Clarifying: sharpen your understanding of what has been said Justifying: ask for evidence for the view they’ve expressed Consequential: reality testing, ask about potential solutions or look at potential consequences 46
  • 47. Other Listening Tools Paraphrase Take notes Demonstrate that you hear what they are saying 47
  • 48. Reframing Definition: responding to the speaker in a way that validates what they are feeling but also helps them move forward 48 “What I heard you say…”
  • 49. Positions v. Interests Positions = statements or demands framed as solutions Interests = what each party needs for resolution (needs, concerns, hopes, etc.) 49
  • 50. Examples: “There will be no pets in this house.” “I want $250 for the damaged wall.” “I absolutely need Dani to work on this project and no one else.” 50
  • 51. Why do negotiations breakdown? Substantive problems Data problems Perception problems Dirty tricks Structural problems Value conflicts Relationship problems 51
  • 52. Nonverbal Cues Eye contact Body language Space 52
  • 53. Definition of Mediation: A voluntary and confidential process by which a trained, neutral third party negotiates with primary decision makers to reach mutually agreed upon solutions. 53
  • 54. Mediation in Wyoming Voluntary & confidential Trained, neutral third-party Primary decision-makers Mutually-agreed upon solutions 54
  • 55. CONFLICT: When to bring in a Mediator Reached impasse Both sides want to resolve the issue Tried to negotiate High emotion 55
  • 56. The Role of the Mediator Help the parties overcome the substantive, relationship, structural, value, data, etc. problems that have previously prevented them from reaching an agreement. 56
  • 57. HOW? Control the negotiation environment Move the parties from positions to interests Identify which problems are preventing agreement Look for win-win options 57
  • 58. The Mediation Process Intake Mediation Session Mediator asks each party three questions Tell me about the events that have brought you here today. What would like to see come out of today’s session? What happens if we can’t come to an agreement? 58
  • 59. Mediation Process (cont.) Identify the Issues Option generation Agreement Post Mediation: Follow-up Evaluation 59
  • 60. Issues that belong in Mediation Behaviors: How people treat each other Communicating about problems Things & Money: Property Reimbursement Repairs Loans 60
  • 61. Structure & Systems: Procedures Schedules Access Issues that belong in Mediation 61
  • 62. Issues that Usually Cannot be Mediated Determining the truth of what happened Determining fault & punishment Abusive behaviors 62
  • 63. Special issues in the workplace Sexual Harassment: Misunderstanding or unwelcome behavior results more from habits and outlook rather than malicious motives Problem detected early on Not appropriate: cases of quid pro quo or maliciously motivated Rules & regulations 63
  • 64. Special issues in the workplace (cont.) Wide gap in power between the parties The real decision-maker is not present Investigation and disclosure needed before fair negotiations can take place 64
  • 65. Mediation in the Workplace: CDR Associates suggests using workplace mediation when: You are concerned about the acceptability of the decision. You want the parties to have technical input into the decision. 65
  • 66. Mediation in the Workplace CDR Associates suggests using workplace mediation when (cont.): You are willing to delegate some or all decision-making authority regarding the issue at hand to the parties. You have not already made a decision. You have the authority to use mediation (and delegate authority). You have the time to allow parties to deliberate about a decision. 66
  • 67. Why use Mediation? Time-saving Cost-saving Expert third parties Creative Confidential Transformative Permits participants to finally hear each other 67
  • 68. Remember: There are times that it is important that a court: Make a finding of right or wrong Establish precedent Overcome power differentials and ensure truth 68
  • 69. What can Mediation accomplish? 69
  • 70. Realistically . . . Resolve the conflict Improve communication Repair the relationship Allow both parties the chance to move forward Give parties time to make a decision Give parties information to continue with their appeal 70
  • 71. Final thoughts: Mediation can be an excellent tool in some (but not all) conflicts. One of the most important pre-meeting responsibilities of mediators is to determine if mediation is right for this conflict. 71
  • 72. Final thoughts (cont.): Conflict is a natural part of life, particularly business life. Conflict is not always negative It is important to understand how you and others deal with conflict 72
  • 73. Lucy Pauley Mediation Coordinator (307) 777-8788 Email: lpaule@state.wy.us 73