“Workplace conflict, if left to spiral out of control, can quickly end up as workplace bullying, so early intervention is vital, if employers are to avoid a crisis. Managers and employees are unsure how to handle conflict situations in the workplace, if they have not been informed of the procedures to follow”. from an article on The Business Post by Dr Genevive Murray, Workplace sector liason, The Mediators Institute of Ireland.
Sources of Workplace Conflict
- Inter-group competition for resources
- Cultural differences
- Policy change and management
- Work performance and supervision
- Relationship dynamics
- Poor communication
- Bullying – perceived or real
Early intervention may involve something as simple as training line managers in handling disputes. This can be an effective, and almost invisible, thread in the process of dispute resolution. Taking a complaint seriously, and addressing it to the satisfaction of the complainant can often be enough.
When grievances get to the next stage they can become intractable. This is where a complaint is made to the HR department. There is still an opportunity to deal with it at this stage. Many companies however lack the skills to handle disputes, and do not always understand their responsibility to do so.
An external, skilled neutral mediator, experienced in early intervention, can facilitate the effective resolution of grievances, assisting disputants in finding mutually satisfactory remedies to their difficulties.
The advantages of an external mediator are:
- Effective early intervention can prevent escalation.
- The process is efficient in time and cost both financial and in respect of relationships.
- Confidentiality is maintained at all times and as a result the issues do not leave the mediation.
- Relationships are often restored.
- There can be no accusation of a partisan result as the disputants resolve their own difficulties, find their own mutually satisfactory solutions.
- Employees may feel more comfortable talking issues through with an external mediator.