Conflict Resolution & Complaints Management


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This is a presentation I delivered at the 9th National Playwork Conference in March 2011.

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Conflict Resolution & Complaints Management

  1. 1. Conflict Resolution & Complaints ManagementDavid StonehouseSenior LecturerTel: 01695 657003E-mail: the University of choice
  2. 2. Think of a Time When You have Been In Conflict, Either Inside or Outside of work.• What happened? What was the conflict about?• How did you react? What did you do and say?• How did you feel at the time?• How do you feel about the situation now?• If you were in a similar situation again, what would you do differently?the University of choice
  3. 3. Definitions Conflict: Disagreement between two parties, mostly regarded as negative, but can also be very positive!! Conflict Resolution: process of working through opposing views in order to reach a common goal or mutual purpose.the University of choice
  4. 4. What Is Conflict?the University of choice
  5. 5. Myths About Conflict• Blame: It’s the other person who is at fault• Fear: Conflict is always bad – confronting it directly will probably make the situation worse• Denial: If I ignore it, it will go awaythe University of choice
  6. 6. Conflict“A conflict of ideas can be healthy if it leads to constructive critical evaluation and change in practice.A conflict in personalities is often much more difficult to resolve.” (Davy & Gallagher, 2006:168)the University of choice
  7. 7. Behavioural response to conflict• Avoidance• Accommodating / compromising• Competitive• Anger; aggression; violence• Collaborative – problem solving & solution finding Which responses do you think you are more likely to use?the University of choice
  8. 8. Physiological & psychological response to conflict• Anxiety & tension• Stress – high blood pressure; rapid heart rate; reduced resistance to infection• High sickness levels• Demoralisation; de-motivation; burnout• Mood swings; depression• Substance use / abuse• Development of assertive skills• Inner strengththe University of choice
  9. 9. What is Conflict?• It is natural• It can be a motivator for change• Its not about winning or losing• Its about learning, growing and co- operating to lead to a resolution• It is about acknowledgement and appreciation of differencesthe University of choice
  10. 10. What do we know about Conflict in the Workplace?• It will happen!!• Some conflicts can be minimised• Some are unavoidable and should not be suppressed or smoothed over• Resolution does not have to result in win or losethe University of choice
  11. 11. Causes of Negative Conflict• Misunderstandings• Personality clashes• Competition for resources• Authority Issues• Lack of co-operation• Differences over method or style• Low performance• Value or goal differencethe University of choice
  12. 12. Conflict is Valuable When….• It is a catalyst for constructive change• Heightens awareness of other peoples attitudes and beliefs• Challenges your beliefs to achieve, personal or professional learning and growth• It enhances mutual respect and collaborationthe University of choice
  13. 13. Conflict is Destructive When....• It diverts energy from more important issues and tasks• Deepens differences in values• Polarises groups so co-operation is reduced• Destroys the morale of people or reinforces poor self conceptsthe University of choice
  14. 14. Resolution & Communication• Put your effort into listening, not arguing• Engage in inquiry instead of accusation• Listen for what you can understand, Clarify the situation.• Be open to new information• Make an effort not to be defensive.the University of choice
  15. 15. 4 Key Components of Conflict Resolution1. Control emotional responses2. Seek understanding3. Identify needs and common interests4. Seek mutual benefits or purpose.the University of choice
  16. 16. Using Conflict Constructively• Define the problem / issue• Evaluate the activity creating conflict• Identify the levels & accuracy of the information• Consider the climate in which conflict arises & in which it will be managed• Recognise, respect & respond to the feelings of those involved• Note the similarities as well as differences of all concernedthe University of choice
  17. 17. Resolution – de-escalation Acting in a way to obtain agreement satisfying for all parties concerned:• Need to be self aware - stay calm & focused• Need to be able to ‘put yourself in the other person’s shoes’ – identify individual’s perceptions & validate feelings• Use assertive techniques• Be clear about what needs to be achieved• Avoid un-achievable promises but take personal responsibility for what you can achieve.the University of choice
  18. 18. Complaints Management Complaints should be viewed as a positive!!They are one mechanism that quality can be assured and improved upon (Barlow and Moller, 2008).the University of choice
  19. 19. Your Role In Complaints Management• Take the complaint seriously. If a parent, child or young person has taken the time to complain then the issue or problem is something which is important to them (Bonel & Lindon, 2009).• Listen to and try and understand the other person’s point of view.the University of choice
  20. 20. Your Role In Complaints Management• Local resolution. Is there anything that can be done immediately?• Communication is the key to success. Fully involve and inform the person making the complaint. So they know what has been done to address their concerns and what still needs to be done.the University of choice
  21. 21. How To Handle Complaints• Give it your whole attention• Get the verbals right• Get the non-verbals right• Get the environment right• Do not make false promises or agree to things that are beyond your control or responsibility.• It has nothing to do with winning an argument.the University of choice
  22. 22. Learning from & Dealing With Complaints• Provides an opportunity for playworkers to see themselves and their service as others see them and to identify the issues which concern children and families.• Rectify a past mistake & enable services to be put right for the future.• Well handled it can increase a person’s trust in the service.• Identify adverse events which otherwise might have gone undetected.the University of choice
  23. 23. Grievance A member of staff may take out a grievance against another. Usually about health & safety, Work relationships, New working practices, working environment, Equal opportunities, inappropriate behaviour, unfair/ inequitable treatment.• Follow your settings policy.• Informal with line manager• Formal, involve Human Resources, may have Union Representative• Outcome (EHU) 28 days• Appeal 10 days (EHU) from outcome. Decision of appeal manager is final.the University of choice
  24. 24. Possible Disciplinary Process?• This could be resolved informally with your line manager• May need to be formal with a disciplinary panel. This must be fair, equitable, open, transparent, & inclusive .• Witnesses will make statements and are protected in their job role• Panel needs to maintain confidentiality establish facts relevant to the case and decide on a course of action• A union Representative may attend for the clientthe University of choice
  25. 25. Playwork Principles (Skills Active, 2004)3. The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education. Conflict should be managed positively so that it can support and facilitate the play process. Any outcome of complaints and lessons learnt should flow into policy, strategy, training and education.the University of choice
  26. 26. Playwork Principles (Skills Active, 2004) 4. For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocatesfor play when engaging with adult led agendas. As advocates for children and young people we need to make sure that any conflicts are undertaken in the best interests of children and play. That children’s complaints about our play service are taken seriously and their concerns are addressed.the University of choice
  27. 27. Playwork Principles (Skills Active, 2004) 6. The playworkers response to children andyoung people playing is based on a sound up to date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice. We need to reflect upon our practice, any conflicts which may divert us away from achieving the playwork principles and if complaints have been dealt with succesfully.the University of choice
  28. 28. National Occupational Standards – Level 4 (Skills Active, 2010)• A42: Provide information to support decision making. Using information from conflict or complaints.• PW19: Manage and develop play facilities and services. Consultation with users.• D16: Establish and develop working relationships. Deal with conflicts constructively, complaints management• A320: Allocate and monitor the progress and quality of work in your area of responsibility. Managing conflict.• PW10: Reflect on and develop practice.the University of choice
  29. 29. To Conclude• Do not be frightened of complaints.• Involve more senior playworkers at all times• Follow guidance set down in local policies & procedures.• Document the complaint & any action taken• Don’t take it personally Any Questions?the University of choice
  30. 30. BibliographyBarlow, J. And Moller, C. (2008) A Complaint is a Gift: RecoveringCustomer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong. Second Edition. SanFrancisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Bonel, P. & Lindon, J. (2009) Good Practice in Playwork. Third Edition.Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.Davy, A. & Gallagher, J. (2006) New Playwork: Play and Care for Children4 – 16. Fourth Edition. London: Thomson Learning.Skills Active (2004) Playwork Principles. (accessed 8 February2011)Skills Active (2010) National Occupational Standards- Level 4. 9 February 2011)the University of choice