Creating confident, collaborative workers who lead happy, balanced working lives does, of course, prevent negative conflict. Good welfare measures, effective consultation and communication processes build trust in the workplace which helps people to raise and deal with difficult issues through dialogue.
How should you do this?
- Set out your commitment to clear standards of workplace behaviour through clear, positively-framed procedures such as ‘dignity and fairness at work’ or ‘Resolution’ procedures, rather than focussing on ‘grievance’ or ‘disciplinary’ procedures, which already focus on conflict not resolution
- Train managers to have the courage to have difficult conversations: which are usually essential, as well as challenging, so the cost of managers not having them, or doing them badly, is huge, but often hidden
- Build team-working skills – don’t overlook the value of this even when costs are being cut.
- Do your managers know the difference between strong management and bullying? Can they apply the difference in action?
- Help people raise issues responsibly, proactively and constructively with volunteer Harassment Advisors or Grievance Resolvers – or outsource this service which may be more cost effective
- Don’t forget your senior staff. If they are modelling negative conversations and using argument or power to get their way the tone for your organisation is already set.