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 Conflict is an inevitable aspect to be encountered in every human institution where people in an interdependent relationship have differences in attitudes, values, priorities and lifestyles, and individual or group perceptions and interest occur in workplaces. These differences often give rise to conflict that hamper the growth and productivity of the organization and also create an adversarial environment where cooperation and teamwork is abated, and for that matter it is imperative that every human organization put in place structures and mechanisms for the prevention and early resolution of conflict at the workplace.

Organisations must put in measures to empower its workers to act proactively in improving workplace relationship with practical communication tools to reaffirm its commitment of developing the human resource by helping workers realize the important link of their relationships at work in making their organizations more effective.

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The first step in moving towards a mediating organization is an assessment of the state of organizational relationship. What kind of relationship exists in your organization? There is a need to assess the present state of the organizational wide relationship, whether it is an adversarial or a cordial one, and whether there is a need to let go of the old coercive language or enhance the already good working relationships at the workplace. If the relationship that exist is not a good one, then that gives need for a transition to a new way of conversation with guided principles to help the organization get the desired result.

Areas of conflict

It is important to note that poor communication is the key area of conflict in both workplace and other relationships. Communication is required to help people focus when implementing organizational goals and plans, failure of which leads to lack of coordination, lack of trust, frustration and waste of resources. This leads to people taking up negative perceptions about themselves and management in the workplace, such that hamper the course of peace and harmony as these perception leads them to operate in a red zone of emotionality, either fighting, fleeing or freezing; creating a disengaged work environment where suspicion and mistrust thrives and Leaders and Workers approach conversations of any kind with any representative of senior management status with skepticism.  With the assumption that, at the very least, the other party is being honest is gone.  Verification and Documentation are now required.  Rewards deferred are perceived as being rewards denied, and also as signs of impending termination.

This loss of trust among parties could explode into destruction and violence of greater proportion at the workplace as is evident in the on-going Electoral Commission saga where workers and the commissioners are caught in a public exposition of their differences.

The way forward in such instances is for organizations to make a transition where change is visible. In making this transition, there is a need to take a look at organization-wide relationship and set up systems and policies that will enable workers to let go of the old coercive language and set a foundation for a new way of conversation by establishing a good communication culture within the organization where perceptions are dropped.  How can this be achieved?

For people to drop perceptions, they must agree that their present state of relationship in the organization is not beneficial both to themselves and the organization as a whole and their customers, and commit to the application of PULSE and GHOST principles, and brainstorm for a mutually beneficial solution whenever they encounter differences or go into conflict.

It means that every organization must set up a workplace culture of People Using Language Skills Effectively(PULSE).  PULSE is an opportunity to have a conversation where everyone is heard, acknowledged and understood.  PULSE gives people an opportunity to share story from the past, learn its impact in the present thereby identifying what’s missing so that the future can be different. It is opportunity to connect with others at the workplace through conversation.  It is a chance to move from fight, flight or freeze reflexes of the red zone of perception to release, relax and relate.  Setting up this new way of conversation also requires that organizations maintain a communication culture with open channels for all to talk in a gentle, honest with openness and specific to the issues that pertain to them, and indeed keep talking until they reach the allotted time or agreement.

Benefit of becoming a Mediating Organization

Beyond the benchmarked measures, the practical value of strategically managing conflict is reflected in the organization’s standard measures of:

  • Performance
  • Productivity
  • Quality
  • Efficiency
  • Profitability, and
  • Organizational Relationships