June 04, 2009

Rules for Mismanaging Workplace Conflict

A new blog about business conflict by mediator F. Peter Phillips reprints his article from HR Magazine that lists ten surefire ways to make sure your dispute management program an utter disaster:
  • No. 10: Leave Disputes To the Employment Lawyers
  • No. 9: Just Impose Mandatory Arbitration
  • No. 8: Copy Someone Else’s Program
  • No. 7: Don’t Bother The ‘C-Suites’
  • No. 6: Ignore Junior Managers
  • No. 5: Don’t Ask Employees—Tell ’Em!
  • No. 4: Don’t Measure
  • No. 3: Don’t Waste Money on Training
  • No. 2: Once You’ve Done It, Just Run It
  • No. 1: Class Actions? Who, Me?
Phillips explains that an effective conflict management program is based on a three-stage model. In the first stage, management-level devices provide employees with safe ways to voice concerns. In the second stage, mediation is used to permit employees and employers to articulate their interests and seek ways to resolve their disputes with the aid of a skilled and neutral third party. The third stage is an adjudicatory process—either arbitration or litigation—in which an arbitrator or a jury renders a decision. (Business Conflict Blog.)

Phillips says that Ombuds are part of the first stage, but I would argue that they are an essential resource for disputes that have advanced to the second stage also.

1 comment:

  1. I would go even further....and did with the following post on Peter's blog

    Good article Peter. Thanks for brining it back out.

    The tongue in cheek nature is useful to reduce some of the tension the topic almost always engenders.

    I would add though to your list of recommendations that it would be wise to consider and design any system to mange the larger field of "conflict," and not only the functional and expensive subset "disputes."

    Additionally your model significantly limits the location of where and when ombuds are involved. I would suggest that GOOD ombuds programs actually function at all three levels, although they absolutely do not adjudicate.

    This is part of the reason that research into ombuds programs, my own included, have demonstrated them to be the most efficient and effective while providing the highest ROI of any approach to organizational conflict in the non-union business setting.

    Glad to see these thoughts getting the attention they deserve.
    Thanks again.

    John Zinsser
    Pacifica Human Communications, LLC.