Today, conflict in the workplace needs to be handled more professionally. Company staff are now more demanding and aware of their rights. They are more sensitive to perceived exploitation and have increased opportunity to seek redress through government established tribunals and commissions. The use of the Internet, Google searching and Facebook friends, enables individuals to be better informed of their rights, have instant access to information and an expectation that they will be treated with equality, respect and natural justice. Any executive who is keen to progress to a more senior level must acquire real conflict handling and people management skills to deal with these situations. Technical competence and academic qualifications are no longer sufficient.
Conflict with external customers, clients and stakeholders needs to be managed more effectively better. An organisation’s customers, clients and stakeholders also have complaints, issues and expectations. All commercial relationships upon which your organisation relies for its existence can involve conflict. These include contractors, lessees, potential purchasers and equity stakeholders.
Personal skills of conflict management are now more essential than ever before. There has evolved a wide range of processes to assist with conflict either inside or outside organisations.
When disputes occur, there is a window of opportunity from the emergence of the dispute to the tipping point, when the usual litigation processes and expensive legal services take over the conflict. The use of litigation as a tool for the resolution of a dispute has a long history. It emerged at a time when the “normal” alternative was armed conflict. Today, collaborative resolution processes are providing a better alternative to the normal litigation process.
Litigation employs conflict generating processes and a communication style that is facts-based and rights-focused. It develops into an adversarial and confrontationalist posturing that leads to expensive and ultimately negative outcomes. Collaborative processes, by contrast, provide a better way to painlessly and more cost-effectively resolve a conflict. This alternative strategy is supported and promoted by Australian governments and even the courts, who have recognised that their scarce resources can not be expended on all disputes as it was in the past.