There is a question all leadership within an organization should be thinking on and asking itself, for effective risk management, optimizing productivity and exercising protective strategy.
How many unhealthy, costly, damaging conflicts and disputes are simmering or soon to boil over that you could very well be unaware of presently? Are you seeing the storm, the big hit coming or the lesser ones that are connected to productivity leaks?
Being caught off guard, blindsided, is not a low-stress, low-cost moment.
Out of sight, out of mind is not strategy. Or as the quote goes “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Negligence comes at a price, organizationally and personally to our reputations, business relationships and upward mobility or job security.
A standard and commitment of doing consistent interviews with different people within the company, discovering reasonable, vital conflicts detrimental to the process, productivity, quality, outcomes, culture is vital.
Learning early about disputes picking up energy, depth and width that can produce misery and potential public relations-and-legal-claims cost is proactive and leads to easier problem solving, similar to catching a healthcare concern early.
Once problems are identified, consider using an empathetic mind for the parties involved as well thinking how the dispute can improve-or-harm the organization.
Utilize a process of using a third-party, objective workplace professional for a neutral voice consult and definitely for mediation. Doing this will create increased trust for people so they become receptive of the process.
A mediation can include valuable mechanical actions:
Acknowledging the concern so people feel heard
Helping all involved parties engage in accepting a team-first responsibility for discussing the dispute
Respectfully defusing inflammatory language, re-framing (and clarifying) emotions
Modeling and encouraging more skilled, effective listening
Modeling and encouraging empathy
Acknowledging company (and personal) goals, search and express commonalities
Encouraging the parties to be more inquisitive and suspend judgment by asking questions
Developing a shared, collaborative vision creating solution ideas and choices
Stimulating creative, wide-lens, flexible thinking and encouraging patience/perseverance in the process
Summary – a leader's life is made easier, more productive and less stressful with a healthy, consistent dispute resolution process of research, follow up, clarification and mediating evolving or inflamed problems before they cause significant damage and expense.