Accurately Identifying and Resolving the Conflict
When managers become aware of or suspect workplace conflict, either through direct observation or employee complaints, they must better understand the root causes of the conflict.
Marli provides assistance with this process of detection and diagnosis by offering the following third party interventions:
1. Workplace Investigations/Reviews: if a complaint comes forward regarding a specific employee, it is important for management to conduct an objective and comprehensive investigation into the complaint as soon as possible. Management is commonly criticized for conducting an unfair, biased or delayed investigation. To avoid successful complaints of this nature, it is essential that investigations be done by individuals who are trained in how to conduct a fair workplace investigation.
Marli is routinely retained by many private and public sector employers to investigate allegations of significant human rights, harassment and disciplinary violations. In addition, Marli coaches others who are directly conducting workplace investigations to ensure they are following due process. Finally, Marli offers training to managers, supervisors and union stewards on the essential requirements of a proper and legally defensible workplace investigation.
2. Conflict Audits/Environmental Scans: often, no specific complaint is brought forth by an employee but management suspects workplace dysfunction, through signs and symptoms of discontent in the workplace or through formal metrics (such as turnover, transfer and sick leave rates). This suspicion often is based upon:
- workplace rumours or anonymous complaints;
- "off-the-record" chats with staff who come forward with concerns but do not want to be identified;
- tension-filled staff meetings;
- increased vacancies;
- out-of-character behaviour or performance issues on the part of one or more employees; and/or
- low employee engagement scores.
Often, due to historical inaction by the organization or concern of retaliation by a particular employee or supervisor, employees are reluctant to disclose their concerns to mangement.
In order to better understand the dynamics, Marli is commonly asked and available to conduct a safe and comprehensive conflict audit to help determine the nature and extent of the workplace issues.
In a conflict audit, Marli creates a "protected" environment in which to facilitate confidential conversations with employees. Marli then presents a report to a key individual within the organization, often outside the department itself, that sets out "themes of concern". These themes are based upon specific feedback from participants in a manner that does not reveal their identities.
Marli then uses her legal knowledge and workplace conflict expertise to design and recommend practical and defensible avenues of resolution regarding the issues identified during the audit having regard for the nature of the workplace environment and the provisions of collective agreements/employment contracts/employer policies.
Finally, Marli is commonly retained to directly assist with or oversee the implementation of these recommendations through coaching, training and team facilitations.
3. In-Person Reviews (360s) of Workplace Leaders: Often, team dysfunction may be caused or contributed by dysfunctional leadership practices. Sometimes, the organization receives anonymous complaints. Other times, no complaints have been filed but senior leaders and/or human resources have heard persistent rumours or have faced continuing issues with turnover and sick leave on certain teams. Through this process, Marli is able to conduct an objective review of the leader(s) involved to determine the extent to which they may play a role in any workplace dysfunction.
Through this process, Marli conducts a confidential interview with the leader as well as his/her subordinates, colleagues, and managers. On the basis of these interviews, Marli provides senior leadership with concrete constructive feedback on common perceptions regarding the leader’s performance and influence on the team. This often includes feedback on the leader’s decisions/decision-making processes, communication style and overall management. Finally, uses the feedback to offer practical recommendations on how the leader and his/her senior management team may successfully improve team trust, morale and productivity.