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StrategyDriven Talent Management Article

Workplace Mediations and Why They Can Benefit Your Business

Conflict and misunderstandings are natural parts of life, as these drive us to be better and to get to know ourselves and our peers. At the workplace, conflict and misunderstandings are discouraged as they can disrupt operations. When these happen and get resolved, however, these can result to much stronger and stable workplaces. Part of what ensures conflicts, disputes, and misunderstandings get resolved properly are mediators who specialize in workplace mediation. If you haven’t experienced this before, you might wonder – just what are workplace mediations and why they can benefit your business?

The Cost Of Conflict In Your Business

StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleIt may help to start with a few statistics. In the 2008 CPP Global Human Capital Report, as much as 385-million working days are lost in paid hours every year because of workplace conflict. This amounts to as much as $359-billion when converted into paid hours. Not only that, but it appears conflict has become a consistent part of the workplace.

According to the same study, 85-percent of employees have to deal with conflict to some extent, with 29-percent of employees consider themselves dealing with it “constantly.” Employees and employers said 49-percent of conflict in the workplace is normally due to “warring egos,” with 34-percent as a result of stress of the office, and with 33-percent being caused by immense workload.

What’s perhaps more distressing is the reality that 25-percent of employees said these conflicts have had them see absences and sickness, with 9-percent actually seeing entire projects fail because of workplace conflict.

These can be alarming statistics if left under-controlled, and especially if it happens to your workplace. Meditation may actually be able to help address these concerns by providing an avenue for conflict to be resolved and managed properly.

Achieving Workplace Harmony: Mediation Works

StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleWith the above, it may help to remember that workplaces are designed to help people make sure they’re capable of doing their tasks properly and to their most efficient ability. However, a worker’s nature as a person does mean business owners have to take into account their staff’s activity levels, personality, skill sets, and even emotions while working in your company. Having someone who understands how these things interplay and can effectively dismantle potential engagements that can disrupt the workplace can make workplaces much more efficient places to work in.

  • Get a qualified neutral party to aid and tackle the issue: Oftentimes there are mechanisms existing in the workplace that aren’t well-defined enough, or can’t be reinforced properly by members of the human resources department because they aren’t trained or might be too involved in the issue. Workplace mediators exist to provide a qualified neutral party to not just review HR policies in place to help resolve the conflict, but to even find much better ways to provide a solution to the workplace problem.
  • Maintain objectivity while tackling the problem: Workplace mediation is a good way to ensure objectivity still exists while discussing workplace conflict, especially with the parties involved. When mediators are involved in the process of mediation, they are oftentimes in the best position to look at things from an outsider’s point of view, as they won’t need to take sides in the issue. They can see past the unreasonableness of the conflict and find opportunities to provide common ground to the parties involved in the conflict.
  • Provide processes and mechanisms to reduce conflict and promote understanding: Workplace mediation is built in such a way that it can help conflicting parties not just find understanding amongst themselves, but also to reduce overall conflict. Being able to talk about their woes and exploring alternate perspectives allow themselves to not just understand themselves and others but also to find opportunities to avoid getting into these types of conflicts again in the first place.
  • Restore workplace relationships to proper order: When two (2) or more coworkers are in the middle of conflict, workplace relationships are definitely going to be strained. The physiological and emotional stress workplace conflicts bring can not only affect workplace performance but also the way the people involved see themselves and others. Workplace mediation can work on ways to restore these relationships to proper order – and as such can promote better functioning, order, and morale in the workplace.
  • Give a much better platform to comply with management directives: Unlike other forms of conflict resolution, workplace mediation reinforces compliance much better because parties involved will be able to form mutual agreements of understand that all parties agree to. This means agreements mediators help with won’t be about “doing this, not doing that” but rather discuss things both parties “agree to.” Compliance can be expected with much better accuracy if it’s been created by both parties.
  • Get you to work without worrying about impact on the front-end: Conflict in the workplace is perhaps the kind of conflict that affects people the most because not only is it involving two (2) parties inside the workplace, but also the customers. When two (2) coworkers don’t resolve their conflict properly, the customer gets to pay in the bottom line. This can be in the form of delayed service, poor product, or even poor quality of service. Workplace mediation allows your conflicting coworkers to be able to not only understand the nature of the conflict and find some resolution for it, but for them to be able to work together properly without consequences.
  • Resolve conflict in a much less expensive manner: A lot of times, people look to litigation as a means to resolve workplace conflict – however, it’s a much expensive and oftentimes too “final” approach to something that can be resolved in a much peaceful manner. Involving attorneys will most likely already cost the company around $300 for every hour – but mediators can just as well resolve the issue without making it feel as though people are picking sides. Mediation looks beyond questions like who’s right and wrong, or who wins and losses. Rather, workplace mediation looks for efficient ways to solve problems and at the same time improve the relationships of those involved.

The Takeaway: Meditations And Maintaining Workplace Harmony

When you hear the word “mediation,” you’ll most likely think of “fights” and “conflicts.” This is especially because mediators are perhaps most involved when they have to settle disputes and fights between parties of their clients. However, as with the above, workplace mediation functions more than just to “settle” fights and conflicts. In fact, workplace mediation is integral in order to make sure there’s always a means to provide a healthy and proper platform for discussion, especially of contentious topics such as workplace policies and rulings. Having a workplace mediation system in place, and conducting regular workplace mediations, can pave rise to a healthier and much more productive workplace.

Laura MacLeod

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Employee conflict is unavoidable in any office environment, this is a fact. Even the most functional of teams will sometimes disagree or experience infighting, which can be difficult to manage.

Example: Hotel Housekeeping Staff Managers are approaching employees on their lunch break to assign tasks, discuss changes and give directions. Workers object to this (“Lunch is my time, I’m off the clock”). Some workers are shouting at managers, threatening to call the union, or altogether ignoring them. Others are listening and taking direction. Managers are frustrated, angry and sometimes shouting back. There is conflict among workers (those who object versus those who don’t) and between workers and managers. You are the director of housekeeping and need to manage this conflict.

Steps to follow to sort out conflict:


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About the Author

Laura MacLeodLaura MacLeod created From The Inside Out Project® with all levels of employment in mind to assist in maintaining a harmonious workplace. Laura teaches conflict resolution, problem solving and listening skills using an innovative method that addresses the human interactive challenges.

For more information on Laura Macleod and her techniques please visit FromtheInsideOutProject.com. To learn more, feel free to email Eliza Osborn at [email protected] or call +1 (877) 841-7244.

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 43b – An Interview with Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!, part 2 of 2

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 43b – An Interview with Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!, part 2 of 2 examines how to deal with workplace conflict in a non-confrontational manner that enables everyone involved to win and the organization to function more productively. During our discussion, Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!: The Everybody Wins Approach to Conflict Resolution shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • the masculine and feminine approach to handling conflict and the aspects of each that should be used to approach conflict resolution constructively
  • an 8-step, non-confrontational method for resolving conflict in the workplace – The Working Circle
  • actions leaders should take to improve their conflict resolution skills
  • additional actions leaders should take to help their peers and employees better handle conflict

Additional Information

In addition to the invaluable insights Diane shares in Win at Work! and this special edition podcast are the resources accessible from her website, www.TheWorkingCircle.com.   Diane’s book, Win at Work!, can be purchased by clicking here.

Final Request…

The strength of our community grows with the additional insights brought by our expanding member base. Please consider rating us on iTunes by clicking here. Rating the StrategyDriven Podcast and providing your comments online improves our ranking and helps us attract new listeners which, in turn, helps us grow our community.

Thank you again for listening to the StrategyDriven Podcast!


About the Author

Diane Katz is author of Win at Work! and President of The Working Circle, a management consultancy providing organizational development, human resources, and team building training and coaching. For over 15 years, Diane has helped executives and managers in manufacturing, construction, technology, healthcare, government, and nonprofits better deal with workplace conflict using her unique, 8-step non-confrontational method, The Working Circle. To read Diane’s complete biography, click here.

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 43a – An Interview with Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!, part 1 of 2

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 43a – An Interview with Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!, part 1 of 2 examines how to deal with workplace conflict in a non-confrontational manner that enables everyone involved to win and the organization to function more productively. During our discussion, Diane Katz, author of Win at Work!: The Everybody Wins Approach to Conflict Resolution shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • the harmful impacts destructive conflict has on an organization
  • traits that make conflict destructive rather than constructive
  • observable behaviors, policies, and other structures organizations plagued with ongoing internal conflict possess
  • why destructive conflict goes unresolved

Additional Information

In addition to the invaluable insights Diane shares in Win at Work! and this special edition podcast are the resources accessible from her website, www.TheWorkingCircle.com.   Diane’s book, Win at Work!, can be purchased by clicking here.

Final Request…

The strength of our community grows with the additional insights brought by our expanding member base. Please consider rating us on iTunes by clicking here. Rating the StrategyDriven Podcast and providing your comments online improves our ranking and helps us attract new listeners which, in turn, helps us grow our community.

Thank you again for listening to the StrategyDriven Podcast!


About the Author

Diane Katz is author of Win at Work! and President of The Working Circle, a management consultancy providing organizational development, human resources, and team building training and coaching. For over 15 years, Diane has helped executives and managers in manufacturing, construction, technology, healthcare, government, and nonprofits better deal with workplace conflict using her unique, 8-step non-confrontational method, The Working Circle. To read Diane’s complete biography, click here.

Leadership and Conflict: For Better or for Worse

There is no doubt that leaders of organizations have enormous influence on how often, how intense, and what impact conflict has on their business. Organizations can not avoid conflict: how it occurs is the question. There is constructive and destructive conflict that can occur. Constructive conflict allows the participants to disagree, perhaps argue, without losing sight of organizational goals. Destructive conflict occurs when the conflict is personal, thus causing individual goals to override those of the organization. Destructive conflict stops the open flow of communication, and ultimately affects the bottom line.

Leaders are human, so some leaders are comfortable with conflict, while others are not. Some leaders enjoy conflict, and actually set coworkers against each other to see who comes out on top. For those leaders that are not comfortable with conflict, their organizations usually have cultures that reflect their discomfort – difficult messages are not delivered, thus lowering the quality of communication and productivity. Disputants speak about their conflict with everyone else, but not the person they are in conflict with!

Managers that are comfortable with conflict usually allow it to occur and encourage creative problem-solving. They know that conflict will occur: they also know it needs to be resolved in order to have a healthy organization.

Think of your favorite retail establishment. Why do you like it? Are you treated well, is there a positive interaction with salespeople? That goes directly to the manager and how he/she treats conflict, among other things. Amiable, disciplined managers know how to have an emotionally intelligent team that is creative, collaborative, and communicative.

Leaders who lead through intimidation or autocratic rule usually have organizations that incorporate shouting matches, blaming, and responsibility avoidance. Internal competition becomes so intense that it hurts overall organization results. Very few leaders like to admit that is their style, but if your organization has these symptoms, you really need to take a look at how you are leading.

What can be done to ensure that the relationship between leadership and conflict results in more collaborative problem-solving? Here are a few suggestions:


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About the Author

Dr. Diane Katz has worked with organizations, professionals for over 40 years. With a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Conflict Resolution from Union Institute, she has applied her education to organizations large and small.

Diane has spoken to groups across the United States in over 20 cities, reaching thousands of professionals. She has spoken about decision-making, conflict resolution, organization development, and professional development. She thoroughly engages her audiences with intelligence and wit.

Dr. Katz started her consulting company, The Working Circle, in 1995. The Working Circle provides organizational development, human resources, teambuilding, training and coaching to organizations of all sizes, having served over 150 organizations. Some of her company’s clients have included Pricewaterhouse Coopers, The University of Arizona, Raytheon Missile Systems, U.S. Border Patrol, Westin La Paloma Resort, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, DR Horton Homebuilders, YWCA of Southern Arizona, and the Pima County Attorney.