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THE ABC GUIDE TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Resolution Architecture Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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John Crawley Part 2 of 4 Whitepaper Series Tel. 0845 600 8851

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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Accidental Resolution Architect It is unlikely that anyone who is reading this whitepaper would naturally describe themselves as ‘Resolution Architects’. If you adopt this role it is likely to be an add-on.

• An ongoing request for best practice conflict resolution policy, process and guidance material and case studies that your organisation is willing to share.

It is to you, the Accidental Resolution Architects, whom this whitepaper is aimed. Part 2 of The ABC Guide to Workplace Conflict Resolution – Resolution Architecture will help whether you are new to this subject or have already spent some time working on and redesigning your organisation’s approach to conflict resolution. It contains:

The remainder of the ABC Guide illustrates how to turn the improvements in ‘Resolution Architecture’ into reality using ‘Resolution Building Blocks’ and achieve long term conflict resolution culture change by working on your ‘Resolution Climate’.

• Ideas and concepts to help you identify key principles for resolution readiness. • Practical suggestions for how to join up existing elements of your policy and build in fairness.

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You can also apply these Architecture principles to your external interactions (between your organisation and contractors, supply line, customers, etc.) in addition to your internal interactions (between staff).

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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Improving Casework Through ADR Many organisations have been prompted to use mediation as an alternative to formal process by a current costly conflict or recent dispute catastrophe, such as:

A prolonged, costly, public conflict between two or more senior figures which has split teams, caused people to take time off work and been bad for business and reputation

A difficult formal grievance case which is resisting resolution and is getting bogged down in inconclusive interviews and investigation

A bullying situation where there is little hard evidence and no obvious point of closure.

In the UK over the last 10 to 15 years, mediation has successfully built a reputation as ‘alternative’ to more formal workplace conflict resolution processes. Hence the widespread use of the term ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution. Organisations from all sectors have created internal mediation services, and there is steady use of external independent mediators. Budget holders have been encouraged to invest in mediation as there have been measurable casework successes and benefits associated with diverting casework away from formal procedures to mediation: • 80% plus resolution rates • More long-lasting resolution saving future expenditure • High user satisfaction levels which encourage engagement • Speedier resolution and thereby less time spent in resolution and more rapid return to work and capability • Rebuilding of confidence in complaints, grievance procedures If you get your Resolution Architecture right, your record on conflict resolution casework will improve and you will increase your return on investment. But why limit yourself to casework improvements, which limits the remit and delivery of mediation to internal and external specialists? If we follow the ADR argument, are we not just replacing one set of internal experts with another? They parachute in, do a good job, but are essentially remote. Real culture change and lasting value exists beyond the ADR approach with the ABC approach.

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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Beyond ADR - The Resolution Pyramid Disputes between employee / employer Facilitated resolution

“The Complaints Pyramid epitomised the virtue of encouraging early resolution, welcoming complaints rather than seeing them as negative.”

Issues raised locally and resolved

Early Resolution The Workplace Resolution Pyramid is a visualisation of a joined-up approach to conflict resolution owned and resourced across the whole organisation. It is not a new idea; its roots are traced back to the Complaints Pyramid and the thinking around dispute resolution system design in the 1980s, which underpins most current workplace resolution practice. The Complaints Pyramid epitomised the virtue of encouraging early resolution, welcoming complaints rather than seeing them as negative. This required a re-design of procedures encouraging more junior customer-facing staff to respond to complaints and resolve them early rather than escalating them. If that was not possible or appropriate, the complaint was moved on to more senior, specialist staff, re-examined and resolved relatively informally either by righting the wrong,

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compensating the customer, supplying replacement goods, etc. If the customer was still not happy then a more formal evidence and rights-based approach (see below) would be used, in which an independent hearing would rule on what has now become a dispute between the customer and the organisation. These procedures were to be exhausted first before customers went to an external body (Ombudsman) for resolution. This approach speeds up the resolution process generating customer satisfaction and loyalty. ‘Lower level’ resolution is also cost effective as the staff cost of each resolution is lower than if more junior staff are involved. The more formal processes were reserved for the most serious cases, or those which could not be resolved any other way.

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

Win/Win Over Win/Lose The Workplace Resolution Pyramid is also about encouraging the pursuit of win/ win outcomes rather than win/lose. Ury, Bret and Goldberg argued that “Ideally, disputes should be resolved at the lowest level, through negotiating interests. Claims of interest focus on the desires of the actors in any given dispute, rather than focusing on what a person can do based on their rights and power.” Ury, Brett, and Goldberg argue that actors should focus on what they would like to do based on their own interests. Interest-based claims are more negotiable, and hence less likely to become intractable. Only if interest negotiation doesn’t work, should the parties try a rights-based approach (such as a more formal disciplinary process or ultimately a legal case). This is healthy for several reasons:

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Negotiating interests is less expensive than adjudicating rights or pursuing power options. Negotiating interests results in mutually satisfactory solutions, while the other two approaches are win-lose, meaning one side wins and the other side loses.

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When power-based approaches are tried, the losing side often is angry, and may try to “get back” at the other side whenever they get the chance.

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Interest-based negotiation is usually less time consuming than the other approaches. ’

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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Creating Your Resolution Architecture

Create a Resolution Procedure A Resolution Procedure is, in effect, the blueprint for a resolution-ready workplace which can be used in a range of ways: • As a self-standing overarching document which is referenced as necessary by other relevant policies and guidance • To initiate a review and upgrade of existing policies and guidance by inserting additional clauses, modifying existing text or removing elements that are inconsistent with the overall design • To freshen up the vocabulary and tone of existing documents to create more accessible, user friendly material I am particularly interested in developing a model resolution procedure which goes beyond casework. Please contact me directly at john.crawley@peopleresolutions.com if you have examples of Resolution or Mediation Procedures that you are willing to share.

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Resolution Procedure - The Blueprint 1. An outline of the principles and values on which workplace resolution is based, including a commitment to: • Early, win / win resolution backed up by FAIRER investigation and adjudication [See ABC Guide Part 3 - Resolution Building Blocks] • Restorative processes and outcomes based on dialogue, learning and relationship building • Independent and impartial dispute handling • Proportionate conflict resolution through a range of accessible, resolution pathways (see below) • Consistency and fairness across a range of possible resolution delivery points • Conflict resolution as the responsibility of everyone in the organisation • Balancing building baseline capability and creating / utilising specialist expertise • Applying the principles of resolution readiness to potential external conflicts with customers, suppliers, contractors • Applying the principles of resolution readiness to online, email, telephone communication including email and social media. 2. The business case including rationale and benefits of this approach 3. Potential measures / targets for resolution strategy 4. Guidance on each resolution pathway, how to access and when to use them including:

• FAQs • Accessible guidance for parties • Diversity and inclusion procedures 5. Information about where to get support and access information about resolution 6. Resources section (see Resolution Hub below) – which might include: • Resolution tips for managers • Case studies of successful resolution • Tips for how to access external mediators • Step by step approach to setting up an internal mediation service • Recruitment, evaluation, casework materials and templates

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

Customised Resolution Across A Range of Resolution Pathways Conflict diagnosis and risk assessment currently happens very informally in most organisations. Resolution decisions are often reactive and haphazard, and this is where perceptions of unfairness and inconsistency can arise. Potential users of conflict resolution still tend to see formal process as the default method. Research suggests that managers will often avoid using informal resolution for fear that it may go wrong, particularly if they feel that HR is ‘remote’ and unlikely to offer support. Some parties and their representatives often opt for formal resolution as they believe it is the only way for their conflict to be ‘taken seriously.’ In order to give conflict assessment and diagnosis on a firmer foundation, I suggest that you include guidance in your Resolution Architecture about a more systematic, impartial and objective approach to conflict assessment.

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The key is to make an initial determination what the best approach for each situation is based on the content of the situation, the wishes of the parties and the needs of the organisation. I have devised the ‘traffic light’ approach to conflict assessment and diagnosis designed to be beneficial for a range of possible stakeholders: • Users and parties who need to know what to expect and how to make more informed choices • Managers who wish to become more effective at early resolution • Mediators working to assist resolution • People needing to commission a formal investigation • Resolution Architects who need to construct policies and guidance to encourage consistent resolution There are basically three types of conflicts at work as illustrated below:

Three Types of Workplace Conflict: Red Conflicts – High risk, high level of challenging behaviour; may be senior staff; vulnerable parties; serious or sensitive issues; allegations more suitable for formal investigation or ‘adjudication’ process; conduct issues rather than capability; last resort if all other processes have not resolved. Amber Conflicts – Higher risk, medium level of challenging behaviour; manageable issues; no major power imbalances; allegations capable of resolution by the parties; capability issues not conduct; independent facilitation / mediation / conflict coaching needed. Green Conflicts – Low risk, difficult behaviour but manageable; early in conflict cycle; issues within parties control; communication difficulties rather than conduct issues; best resolved locally by dialogue.

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The Three Types of Workplace Conflict

Customised Resolution Pathways

These three types of conflict need customised resolution which is fit for purpose. As an absolute minimum, most organisations are now realising that they need at least two resolution pathways – a dialogue-based resolution pathway for green and amber conflicts with formal, investigation-style adversarial methods for most serious and risky red cases (in line with the Complaints Pyramid principle).

Generally, green and amber conflicts are suited for resolution by talking it out but red ones are not. Amber may need more external assistance from a trained mediator, conflict coach, or facilitator. If neither green nor amber pathways are able to achieve resolution then the parties do not lose the right to investigation and adjudication.

I would strongly argue that organisations also need to include a properly designed and resourced local resolution pathway in which staff are encouraged to have difficult conversations, find ways of handling disagreements and moving to resolution (assisted by their managers - see Resolution Pathways below). I recently saw an online training package in which managers were not encouraged to manage conflict but rather hand it on to specialist internal mediators. When I began training teams of in-house mediators 15 years ago, I did not imagine that they would take over from early, local resolution.

Additions to the Resolution Architecture which would encourage accurate conflict assessment and customised resolution pathways include: • Examples of types of situation which might suit different resolution pathways. • Process outlines regarding confidentiality, level of rapport, who makes the decisions and how, what types of outcomes are likely. • Information about who would facilitate the process and what their role is / is not. • Diagnostic questionnaires to assist more consistent assessment.

Investigation Adjudication Investigation and and adjudication Assisted resolution by dialogue mediation, conflict coaching Parties talk it out - early local resolution

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Updating Managerial and Leadership Competencies

A new study suggests that CEOs are doing a “lousy job when it comes to people management” and the “lowest rated skill was conflict management”. This managerial skills deficit has also been noticed in a recent CIPD Fact Sheet on Employee Relations at Work. “Managing the employment relationship rests heavily on the shoulders of line managers, but their competence in this area is, in general, seriously neglected… A much wider area of knowledge is now required, along with the skills to apply it, including communications and conflict management.” It is difficult to achieve a balance between people skills and technical, business and professional skills when designing leadership and management training.

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I believe that the Resolution Architecture at work would be improved and resolutionreadiness increased if conflict management and mediation skills were more prominently featured in leadership and management competencies and standards. As these skills contain listening, building trust, facilitation and working across diverse teams this change would also have a positive impact on engagement, trust and capability. For examples of Management and Leadership Competencies about conflict management go to the National Occupational Standards web site (http://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/ CFAM_LDD5.pdf) and look at CFAM&LDB8 Manage Conflict in Teams on page 234 and http://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/CFAM_ LDD5.pdf for CFAM&LDD5 Manage Conflict in the Broader Work Environment.

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

Creating a ‘Resolution Hub’ One of the inhibiting factors in improving conflict resolution performance and the ability to learn from conflict was the lack of a readily identifiable accessible place that acts as a ‘hub’ - a focus for conflict resolution activity, a place where issues can be raised, reflected upon and where resolution can be accessed, delivered, reviewed and evaluated. In small organisations or those with a reactive approach to conflict everything to do with conflict often comes to one informally designated person – presumably you as you are reading this. In that case you are the ‘hub’. When you leave, or are absent or busy, conflicts go unattended or are handled differently. In larger organisations, HR specialists, union reps, senior managers are stretched and stressed. Conflicts, disagreements, grievances are at the end of a long line of demands. A resolution hub will add value and effectiveness to existing resolution procedures by assembling and accessing materials for resolution promotion, delivery, education and guidance. Some organisations already have a form of ‘hub’ for example an internal mediation

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service co-ordinator, or ER specialist with a dispute resolution portfolio. A specialist co-ordinator or point of contact may also be assigned to provide administrative and case management support for small teams of trained specialists; resolution guidance; evaluation and review procedures and processes for recycling learning. My vision of a Resolution Hub includes: • A point of contact for accessing support, information and resolution services • A learning centre of materials for a range of users • Positive resolution

narratives

about

conflict

• Short how-to videos, testimonials and tips • Self-help and practitioner resources • Access to external provision of support, CPD, training etc • A database of casework statistics • A cost of conflict counter that shows ongoing achievement against financial targets. What would your vision of a Resolution Hub look like? Contact me with your ideas at john.crawley@peopleresolutions.com

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

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E-tiquette Preventing and Resolving Online Conflict This is a relatively unexplored area of workplace conflict resolution, but ignore it at your peril. People Resolution’s casework frequently includes allegations of misuse of email, and Facebook/ Twitter accounts, particularly on the formal investigation side. I recommend that you create an ‘E-tiquette Policy’, specifically designed to prevent and manage online conflict. Some of the particular complicating factors in this area are: • Many online, mobile or device-facilitated conversations blur the boundaries between private and public • E-tiquette is not sufficiently well developed or universal to enable easy agreement about what is OK for some people and not others • Many online modes of communication are all about speed of delivery and reply and therefore meaning may get lost or confused in the speed • Generational/cultural differences may cause significant disagreements about what is appropriate and what is not.

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

An E-tiquette Policy should include simple guidance on:

People-friendly email conventions including:

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o Take another look before you send an upset, angry message o Use clear, transparent subject lines - don’t try and be too clever o When sharing ideas or achievements explain why you think the intended recipients may be interested o Pay some - though not too much - attention to punctuation.

Guidance on unhelpful email and text conventions including:

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o Bombarding someone with numerous emails o Capitalising text or adding exclamation marks for emphasis o Broadcasting negative comments and copying to a wide range of recipients for emphasis

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Use of devices in meetings particularly o What are the conventions regarding keeping devices on / turning off at meetings? The risks of posting derogatory material, using bullying or harassing behaviours in social media including: o Clarification that all electronic communication on a workplace computer is accessible - “Management and other authorised staff have the right to access any material in your email or on your computer at any time. Please do not consider your electronic communication, storage or access to be private if it is created or stored at work.’”

An outline of the resolution processes available under the procedure (in-line with the Resolution Procedure – all of the same principles apply).

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The ABC of Workplace Conflict Resolution Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace

Building Commitment to Resolution Readiness Over the last 10 to 15 years, there having been varying initiatives encouraging the signing of Dispute Resolution Commitments or Pledges. Although signing a document supporting resolution ready behaviour does not ensure action, it can provide a focus and a reference point for on-going improvement. The UK Government Dispute Resolution Commitment promoted by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office in 2011 replaced the somewhat ineffective Dispute Resolution Pledge 2001. The new document was in effect a revised pledge but with guidance for government departments. Although externally-focused (on contractual disputes for goods and services and general claims brought by individuals or organisations against government departments), this document has been a useful addition to the Resolution Architecture in Government Departments,

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in creating some core vocabulary, clarification of terminology, and recommendations for best practice. Many Government Departments provide their staff with a range of resolution options with trained internal specialists. They have been less successful in moving beyond the ADR approach towards long term resolution culture change. The Ministry of Justice has, in fact, over the last 10 years developed an extremely successful in house workplace mediation capability, which it is convinced has had long term benefits. I think mediation is a good first port of call for the business. For the Ministry of Justice to have mediation is very valuable because we are investing in the staff. Conflict causes all manner of problems, including health problems resulting in sickness absence and stress or anxiety. It can have a detrimental impact in teams within the workplace who are directly or indirectly involved.

The next section of the ABC Guide moves from policy, process and principle to ‘Resolution Building Blocks’ and promises to be packed with practical ideas about: •

The ‘Talk-it-Out’ seed-bed resolution model

From Argument to Agreement – Resolving Disputes by Mediation – a guide for managers

• Using specialist mediation capacity – in-house mediators, outsourced mediation, hybrid services •

Conflict coaching – using the RESPECT model

Developing multi-disciplinary dispute resolution experts or interims

Online mediation and resolution support

Underpinning resolution initiatives with effective the FAIRER investigation process.

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THE ABC GUIDE TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Resolution Architecture – Designing a Resolution Ready Workplace By John Crawley

PART 2 of 4 To learn more about this whitepaper series, please visit www.peopleresolutions.com

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ABC Guide to Conflict Resolution- Resolution Architecture  

Part two of the ABC Series- Resolution Architecture on designing a resolution ready workplace

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