An intervention to resolve a workplace conflict can only be truly effective if it is done for a long term result. Workplace mediation that fixes the immediate conflict and doesn’t consider preventative measures is a job half done. It’s like listening to the hit, not the LP. Rather than take a traditional approach of addressing the immediate relationship conflict, take a more contemporary holistic risk management approach of understanding what is underlying the conflict and address it.
What are the contributory factors to the immediate conflict as they could be impacting other relationships in conflict or simmering below the surface. Sustainable outcomes can not be achieved if we are sending the people, post mediation, back into a climate or environment fertile for further conflict. Find the root causes and change the environment away from one that cultivates conflict.
What could be the underlying risk factors ? Click Risk Factors - Unhealthy Workplace Conflict for a table setting out some practical examples.
When the risk factors are identified they should be caught and referred to the appropriate person to further consider and action them. The risk factors might be identified by regular systemic reviews or analytics. They might be identified by the mediation parties during the mediation, the HR Leader conducting the mediation may identify them in the mediation or in the proceedings leading to the mediation. To be further on the front foot, your Leaders should be identifying the risk factors in their day to day operations. That way, they are identified as early as possible and eliminated or controlled.
Providing your Leaders with the core competencies in managing workplace conflict is an organisational necessity. Building the competency within your leadership means that early resolution or better still prevention of unhealthy workplace conflict can occur.
Conflict left unattended can escalate to bullying. Not only lost production and decreased engagement but the business will suffer costs in managing a complaint and potential workers compensation claim. Taking a more moderate perspective, international research shows that workplace conflict costs leaders 20 – 30% of their time each year in responding. Even if the time spent in your business is less – say 15%, this still is a significant cost to the business. With an average TRP of $80 000, that is a cost of $12 000 per leader. If you have 50 leaders across the business, this is an annual cost of $600 000. These are conservative figures.
Peel HR offers training in holistic workplace mediation. We deliver both 1 ½ day programs for HR Professionals and 1 day programs for Leaders. Ask us about them