Human beings are well and best defined by their traits. With regards to their unique features, individuals are identified based on their character as well as their endowed physical characteristics. However, as long as human dispositions exist, there will also be the existence of differences in understanding and appreciating each other at the workplace.
This should not be surprising but should be expected, yet it must be approached in a very tactical way by Human Resource Managers so that it does not escalate beyond control. Therefore, organisations must appreciate individual differences and interests when there is a misunderstanding between workers or leaders to resolve the differences and maintain the working relationship among them.
Conflicts affect the company negatively by rewarding the company with unnecessary cost. In context, it retards the growth of work. Moreover, while the employee thinks the effects of conflicts only affects the employer, it rather acts as a double edged sword causing harm to both partners as long as the cancer of conflict vibrantly exists in the organisation.
This approach is best utilised under section 108 of Act 651, which provides that “Every Collective Agreement shall contain a provision for final and conclusive settlement of all differences between the parties to whom the agreement applies”.
It is understood that differences can emerge between social partners and therefore there is the need to structure a way out in the prevention and early resolution of these differences.
This will prevent the casual stoppage of work and rather promote quality work and increased productivity. Therefore in undertaking this approach, it is important to help all to think rationally and strategically about the conflict rather than react to it blindly.
The Human Resource Manager is a key figure as far as the conflict lingers on as a pertinent issue that cannot be avoided in the workplace. It is for this reason that Human Resource Managers have to carefully map out a strategy which will incorporate the various communication skills to achieve these noble intentions successfully.
What mechanisms should HR Managers put in place for the management of internal disputes/differences?
Every good HR professional must first consider mechanisms that are interest based and have high potential in promoting a healthy and productive work environment when building up systems for the prevention and management of conflict within the organisation. Here are five policy threads that should be woven into the fabric of any organisation for the management of differences:
- Self-Mediation: This is mediation without a third party
- Managerial Mediation: Mediation without a professional mediator
- Preventive Mediation: Mediation without an event
- Executive Mediation: Deliberate management of organisational conflict and,
- Professional ADR: A way to facilitate conflict resolution between and among parties to bring the dispute to closure.
The use of these mechanisms would depend largely on the level or severity of the conflict in the workplace. For instance, in cases where an individual or group differences are conflicting, you can employ the use of self-help mediation tools such as self-mediation, managerial mediation or executive mediation depending on the nature of disputes, and the number of people involved. In other instances where differences at the workplace escalate to a crisis with a potential of causing serious harm and damage to the organisation, the best mechanisms to employ in resolving such situations are the use of strict grievance procedures, or the employment of professional Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) as stated in sections 153,154 and 157 of the Labour Act, 2003 which makes adequate provision for the settlement of industrial disputes. It is at this stage that you call on an expert to manage the crisis when all internal systems are put in place for resolving differences to avoid crisis plunging the company into total cessation.