January 29, 2010

Conflict Coaching: Advising the Mediating Manager

Occasionally, Ombuds have the opportunity to coach individuals who are not a party to a conflict. Managers may want to resolve departmental issues without referring their employees to the Ombuds. Managers are not neutral and independent and therefore need to use techniques that are different than those used by Ombuds and Mediators. Tufts University professor Jeswald Salacuse has identified six bases of power for mediating managers:
  1. Rewards -- Managers have access to incentives for changed behavior;
  2. Coercion -- Managers can punish as well as reward;
  3. Expertise -- Managers often have greater knowledge and skills that are relevant to the conflicts;
  4. Legitimacy -- Managers in some organizations may have great power to implement a resolution;
  5. Relationships -- Managers often have preexisting relationships with the parties; and
  6. Coalitions and Networks -- Managers may be able to capitalize on existing social networks to gain support for resolutions.
Salacuse encourages managers to be aware of these leverage points when attempting to mediate. (Harvard PON Blog.)

1 comment:

  1. Even still, be very cautious advising novices with a stake in the conflict to serve as mediators. It's akin to getting on the radio and telling a passenger how to land the airplane.