Mediators tend to be very positive, energetic future-focussed types who like nothing better than getting the parties to concentrate on collaborating to find ways to resolve current problems and to create improved and more effective ways of working. Often, the key is creating an expectation of success. However, I am reminded by the short but thought-provoking article by Thornton Mason that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
An interesting article in HR Review commenting on the results of a survey that reveals that businesses are overlooking the impact of the office environment on productivity and morale. According to the survey, although over 90% of workers believe the office environment affects their productivity, fewer than 50% consider that their office environment improves their productivity and 20% believe it actually decreases their productivity.
There are many elements that need to combine to produce a healthy and productive working environment, one of which is ensuring that issues are resolved quickly and effectively and that there are good working relationships between employees. Establishing effective processes such as mediation can make an enormous impact on the working environment and can really help to improve morale and productivity. It can also lead to many other benefits such as enhanced staff retention and even to less obvious benefits such as improved relationships with customers and suppliers and even to increased innovation.
Well, obviously that wouldn’t be referring to any of us! However, it is a question posed by a blog post on the Harvard Law School’s Daily Blog from its Program on Negotiation. While the article suggests that it is probably better to have a mediator with a warm empathetic style, it does also suggest that an aggressive or difficult mediator might not always be a bad thing either. It conjectures that it may lead to the warring parties collaborating with each other to defeat the common enemy, namely the mediator! Although one may be able to understand the logic of that approach, the best lesson to draw from the article is probably to take a lot of care about choosing the right mediator. This will be the topic of the next article in this blog.
In the meantime, it is always worth bearing in mind that thinking that someone is ‘difficult’ is often just a reflection of a perceived imbalance of power as between yourself and that other person. If you begin to recognise and address the power imbalance, you will often find that the ‘difficult’ person becomes much more manageable.
The last three decades have seen a shift in the nature of workplace conflict away from collective industrial disputes towards a culture of individual rights and private claims. However, the mechanisms for resolving conflict within the workplace have been very slow to adjust to this change. The default processes in most workplaces remain the grievance and disciplinary procedures. For a fairly brief period between 2004 and 2009 we had the statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures which most would agree were an utter disaster and this fact contributed much to the conclusions of the Gibbons Report in 2007, which came down heavily in favour of less formal and more resolution based processes to address workplace issues. Continue reading “What’s holding you back?”
I have just read an excellent article from solicitors Ellis Whittam on dismissing employees who ‘pull a sickie’. However, it is important to see dimsissal as very much a last resort. In my experience, there is usually much more to this sort of absenteeism than meets the eye. It is sometimes caused by indolence or poorly managed personal life, but it is often caused by something connected to the workplace. This makes it critically important for an employer faced with persistent short-term absenteeism to explore carefully the underlying reasons for the absences. Continue reading “Pulling a sickie…”
Conflict is not all bad. Indeed, it can be very good. A degree of conflict is probably inevitable in almost any situation involving prolonged human interaction, so finding a way to harness its positive effects will always be a good approach to adopt. This is especially true in the workplace where the consequences of failing to approach conflict positively can be very damaging to the whole organisation.
How many issues end up being addressed by HR that could have been resolved by management through effective communication at an earlier point in time ? Learning how to undertake a difficult conversation or how to faciliate a conversation between others can promote early resolution and avoid issues spiralling into a problem. Continue reading “Get back to basics to give yourself the competitive edge”