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DISCUSSION POST #1:
Guiding Principle for Conflict – Mediation – Respect of Parties
My guiding principle for conflict is respect for all parties in the process. It is important to give people an opportunity to express their concerns and opinions on an issue that impact their work environment. Disputants should be allowed to retain decision control in a judgement free zone but moderated as to ensure a fair and unbiased process that is equal for both parties, particularly if the disputants have to continue to work with each together (Lewicki & Sheppard, 1985). The process also reflects the value an organization places on its employees and fosters good employee relations., I think the method that best reflects my guiding principle is mediation which is where the “third party retains process control but does not exercise decision control.” (e.g. Cropanzano et al., 1999; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). In mediation, the disputants get an opportunity to voice their concerns with a manager or “mediator” that facilitates the process of the mediation but doesn’t make the decision. I think it is particularly effective if the mediator advises during the process. Initially, this may give the appearance as if the mediator has less control. However, it gives disputants assurance that they will retain decision control. (Cropanzano et al. 1999; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998).
Advising or facilitation allows the mediator to encourage the disputants to “engage in productive discussion.” (Kolb, 1986, Kolb & Glidden, 1986). This allows the disputants to retain face which is critical if both parties are going to continue to work together in any capacity. (LaTour et al., 1976). It also keeps employees integrity and how they perceive their space.
Advising can also be described as orchestration, under the descriptive model for mediators. (Kolb 1983). It is an action that speaks to the mediator creating an atmosphere of open dialogue without intervention on the part of the mediator in directing disputants’ dialogue. (Lewicki, Weiss & Lewin, 1992). We can also apply the Transformative mediation model where the idea is to focus on “parties’ abilities to transform their relationship through empowerment and recognition.” (Bush & Folger, 1994). This allows the disputants to create a format to communicate with each other moving forward in a constructive manner.
Lewick, R.J. & Sheppard, B.H.(1985). Choosing how to intervene: Factors affecting the use of process and outcome control in third party disputes. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 31, 465-502.
Cropanzano, R., Aguinis, H., Schminke, M., & Denham, D. (1999). Disputant reactions to managerial conflict resolution tactics: A comparison among Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United States. Group and Organizational Management, 24, 124-154
Folger, R., Cropanzano, R. (1998). Organizational justice and human resource management. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage
LaTour, S., Houlden, P., Walker, L., & Thibaut, J. (1976). Some determinants of preferences for modes of conflict resolution. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 20, 319-356.
Lewicki, R.J., Weiss, S.E., & Lewin, D. (1992). Models of conflict, negotiation and third party intervention: A review and synthesis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 209-252.
DISCUSSION POST #2:
Understanding the WHY is the guiding principle in conflict.
The Golden Circle concept was inspired by a simple mathematical relationship “…supporting the notion there is more order in nature than we think”(Sinek, 2009, p. 38). Defining the terms of the circle starting outside and working inwards is WHAT, HOW, and WHY. WHAT describes, “…the products or services a company sells” (p. 39). HOW is the differentiating or motivating factor in a decision; the explanation of something different or better (p. 39). WHY is the purpose; why the company exists or why someone should care (p. 39). An individual’s guiding principle in conflict should be to act and communicate from the inside out focusing on the WHY.
If leaders started by first asking why, then they would inspire individuals to act rather than cause a reaction or conflict. A state of conflict is, “When goals…are so disparate and incompatible that the system can’t function smoothly” (Thomas, 2013, Discussion 5 Slide 3). Not evaluating the why or goals is a problem. Therefore, in conflict situations individuals should use less “unproductive language: i.e. blaming, interrupting…” (Thomas, 2013, Discussion 6 Slide 9) and focus on the why or “‘real objectives’” (Thomas, 2013, Discussion 5 Slide 5).
Sometimes in conflict, managers are drawn to the quicker, cheaper option over the better long-term solution. Thomas and Schmidt (1976) found that “managers devoted up to a fifth of their time resolving conflicts” (qtd. in Goldman, Cropanzano, Stein, Benson, 2008, p. 292). A management consultant states, “they never have the time or money to do it right the first time…but they always have the time and money to do it again” (Sinek, 2009, p. 23). In a Japanese auto plant, the Japanese “…didn’t examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution – they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning” (Sinek, 2009, p. 14). If the desired outcome wasn’t achieved, the Japanese auto plant understood that there was a defect in the process from the start. When faced with a result that does not go according to plan and conflict arises, the first instinct is to go through a series of short-term tactics to reach the desired outcome. However, the short-term may not be structurally sound in the original intention. There is greater value placed in the original purpose or “why”.
More data doesn’t always help, especially if a flawed assumption is what set off the whole conflict process in the first place. Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or perceived truth. If mediation is an option, the mediator may use both directive and elicitive strategies (Charkoudian, De Ritis, Buck, Wilson, 2009, p. 293) to better understand the purpose or why the conflict arose. Mediators refer to a metamodel to help distinguish how a problem is defined (from narrow to broad)” (Alexander, 2008, p. 99). The “narrow to broad” relates to The Golden Circle concept thus emphasizing the importance of the WHY as the guiding principle for conflict.
Alexander, N. (2008). The mediation metamodel: Understanding practice. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26(1), 97-122. doi: 10.1002/crq.225
Charkoudian, L., de Ritis, C. et al. (2009/Spring). Mediation by any other name would smell as sweet – or would it? The struggle to define mediation and its various approaches. Conflict Resolution Quaterly, 26(3), 293-316. doi: 10.1002/crq.234
Goldman, B.M., Cropanzano, R., et al. (2008). The role of third parties/mediation in managing conflict in organizations. In C.K.W. de Dreu & M.J. Gelfand (eds.) The psychology of conflict management in organizations. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group. 291-319.
Sinek, S. (2009) . Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. New York: Penguin Group
Thomas, Lorne. Discussion 5: Conflict Management (PowerPoint slides) . Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://chipcast.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=4007e018-1705-404f-bc6c-1fc0f34c415a
Thomas, Lorne. Discussion 6: Mediation and Grievance (PowerPoint slides) . Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://chipcast.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=4007e018-1705-404f-bc6c-1fc0f34c415a
DISCUSSION POST #3:
The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak. Effective communication starts with the understanding that there is my point of view and someone else’s point of view. As conflict in the workplace is bound to arise, it is important to understand how the individuals involved may successfully move forward. Through open communication and sometimes, mediation, conflict management is better developed. “Mediation dynamics can set an example for participant behavior and can influence the content of the agenda, and affect the range of outcome options considered” (Alexander, 2008, p. 98). I believe the idea of a third party dispute resolution system is not only positive, but also encourages active and civil communication. “If both of you are yelling, no one is in charge”, which I have found to be more than true when tensions run high in the workplace (McConnon & McConnon, 2008, p. 66).
I previously worked for an organization where one employee had become increasingly frustrated with another worker seated nearby. Not only did the pair have to work in close quarters, they also had to travel together, venture on sales calls together, etc. My manager had noticed the tension and decided to discuss the ongoing situation with the employees privately. My supervisor became somewhat of a mediator and allowed the employee’s to talk over the issues at hand to serve their needs and promote quality assurance in the organization (Charkoudian, De Ritis, Buck, & Wilson, 2009). I was close with one of the employee’s facing this predicament and she informed me that the session was helpful as both individual’s explained their frustration. They had a long discussion in which they outlined their personal needs and organizational goals with one another to better understand one each other’s perspective. This discussion identifies with the lecture discussed by Dr. Dailey in which he states, “in many work situations, people’s goals are similar enough that they can work together” (slide 3). They also realized a simple miscommunication which led to confusion among several work-related issues that were easily deliberated and mended to move forward.
This realization falls in line with the thoughts discussed by Goldman, et al. (2008), in which they determined mediation was “proven popular because, to a large degree, it works and has led to many positive perceptual outcomes” (p. 313). Being aware of a problem is the first step to correcting it. As Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook discusses workplace conflict, she states, “reflecting someone’s viewpoint clarifies the disagreement and becomes a starting point for resolution” (Sandberg, 2013, p. 81). Keeping this perspective in mind is important as workplace conflict will always exist. It is important to listen to and respect fellow coworkers no matter the situation. At the end of the day, I believe most employees would agree with the concept that they want to fight the problem, not the person.
Word Count: 484
Alexander, N. (2008). The mediation metamodel: Understanding practice. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26(1), 97-122.
Charkoudian, L., De Ritis, C., Buck, R., & Wilson, C. L. (2009). Mediation by any other name would smell as sweet-or would it? The struggle to define mediation and its various approaches [Special issue]. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26(3).
Dailey, W. (2016). COM665 Lecture: Managing Conflict.
Goldman, B. M., Cropanzano, R., Stein, J., & Behson III, L. (2008). The role of third parties/mediation in managing conflict in organizations. In C.K.W. de Dreu & M.J. Gelfand (eds.) The Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations.
McConnon, S., & McConnon, M. (2008). Conflict management in the workplace: How to manage disagreements and develop trust and understanding. Retrieved from http://www.untag-smd.ac.id/files/Perpustakaan_Digital_1/CONFLICT%20MANAGEMENT%20Conflict%20management%20in%20the%20workplace.pdf
Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
DISCUSSION POST #4:
Walworth: Conflict…it isn’t wine…it doesn’t get better with age
Often times when there is conflict in the workplace, the easiest thing to do is to ignore or delay and hope that it will go away with time. In fact this is one of the six approaches that Goldman, Cropanzano, Stein and Benson describe, “avoidance or ignoring method, where the manager does nothing” (2008 p. 294). In our Human Resource department one of our guiding principles is that conflict isn’t wine, it doesn’t get better with age, it is more like cheese, it just gets more stinky. So our approach with employee relations is to be proactive early on in the process. Our approach would be to take an advising or facilitating role. In this role, “the manager takes the two parties aside and encourages them to engage in productive discussion” (2008, p. 294). We do this by gathering the conflicting parties and come to a neutral place to discuss the issue. Our goal is to establish the focus and the frame of the process as non confrontational as possible. Deepak Malhotra describe this as “treating the interactions as problem solving exercises rather than battles to be won” (2015, p 71). This is also done by setting the tone of the interactions to be respectful, slide 6 of the lecture talks about relationship goals, which are “what we hope we will be at the outcome of the among the involved parties and even important outside parties “(Dailey, 2016). We find that when there are issues and we address them early and directly with both parties, we can find a more respectful solution and there are often fewer casualties of the dispute as neither party has had time to try to win support on the work floor.
Another goal of conflict resolution for us is that the relationships with the employees and their ability to build trust is paramount to long term success with the mediation. Charkoudian, De Ritis, Buck and Wilson describe this as the “socio-emotional mediators, they focus on terms such as humanistic, transformative, and relational and are more focused on the people more than on the problem at hand” (2009, p 296). An example of this would be where we follow up after the mediation with extensive ongoing coaching to help develop the employees to mitigate the need for mediation in the future to help with their problem solving or to help them see the other parties perspective. “Mediators act as facilitators and coaches, educating and empowering the parties to make their own decisions with respect to the conflict” (Alexander, 2008 p103).
These have been the primary guiding principles by our organization and our human resource department when dealing with employee relations and conflict. Always be respectful of everyone, understanding that we all have differing perspectives of the same situation and to not delay in dealing with the conflict, it only gets more stinky if you wait.
Word Count: 488
Alexander, N. 2008. The Mediation Metamodel: Understanding Practice. Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 26 (1). P 97-123
Charkoudian, L., De Ritis, C., Buck, R., Wilson, D. 2009. Mediation by any other name would smell as sweet – or would it? The Struggle to define Mediation and its various approaches. Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 26 (3).
Dailey, W. 2016. COM665 Lecture: Managing Conflict
Malhotra, D. 2015. Control the negotiation before it begins. Harvard Business Review. 92 (12). 66-72
DISCUSSION POST #5:
Effective communication can be the linchpin to productive alternative dispute resolutions. Effective communication can be defined as a two-way information sharing process, which encompasses sending messages that are straightforwardly understood by the receiver. This method has helped me in the past when a co-worker and I miscommunicated on how customer notes should be recorded. The co-worker in question had stopped communicating with me, which was very strange based on his character. I engaged him in positive and compassionate conversation, and together we were able to resolve the conflict, we also enacted a better process for system notes. Based on slide three entitled alternative dispute resolution, it is revealed that when individuals do have the right during alternative dispute resolutions, they can arrive at their own agreements. Effective communication is constructive during this process (Dailey, 2016).
Five years ago my manager and I came into conflict when a sizeable amount of tasks were passed down with no additional direction attached to them. I entered her office and explained my confusion about the order in which the tasks need to be completed. We conversed for an hour going back and forth about the origin of the confusion, and put in place a procedure in which the order of work should be completed. The mediation metamodel’s interaction dimension dialogue section discloses that the ability for both individuals to communicate positively while respecting each other, lends to a prosperous outcome with both parties resolving the conflict themselves (Alexander, 2008).
The article by Charkoudian observes the numerous approaches to meditation from two selective studies. The first in which was taken by the mediators themselves, and the second taken through years of research observing the actual mediations. Both studies reveal some level of effective communication, whether it was through the mediators or through the parties involved in the act of mediation. Effective communication is used to reach an agreement within both studies and seems to be advantageous during the mediation process. This article reveals that there are different perspectives on effective communication and could also reveal that there are different levels of effective communication (Charkoudian, 2009).
Can mandatory mediation disrupt effective communication? This question is based within the article on the psychological perspective of conflict management. Based on a portion of this article, it is frequently difficult to reach an agreement when mediation is mandatory, as it often is. Making mediation mandatory among individuals within an organization forces them to become more effective communicators. This process opens the door to resolving conflict by helping individuals achieve collectively what they cannot achieve individually (Goldman & Cropanzano, 2008).
Africa is experiencing this identical trend from lengthy court system cases, to individual alternative dispute resolution dialogues. Mediators receive a thorough education, which includes communication dynamic tactics. These mediators learn to express ideas clearly while transmitting information, and also learn to observe the shifting and changing of those messages. It is believed that this training in dynamic communication will lead to more positive alternative dispute resolutions (Uwaize, 2011).
Word Count 498, not including the references.
Alexander, N. (2008). The mediation metamodel: Understanding practice. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26(1), 97-122.
Charkoudian, L., de Ritis, C. et al. (2009/Spring). Mediation by any other name would smell as sweet – or would it? The struggle to define mediation and its various approaches. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26(3), 293-316.
Dailey, W. (2016). [PowerPoint] Slide 3.
Goldman, B.M., Cropanzano, R., et al. (2008). The role of third parties/mediation in managing conflict in organizations. In C.K.W. de Dreu & M.J. Gelfand (eds.) The psychology of conflict management in organizations. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group. Pages 291-319.
Uwazie, E., & National Defense University. Africa Center for Strategic Studies. (2011). Alternative Dispute Resolution in Africa Preventing Conflict and Enhancing Stability /.