Workplace Conflicts


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Workplace Conflicts

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