Here are some other benefits of conflict resolution, if
conflict is effectively addressed in organizations. Also, see our blog about how conflict is good for business.
Beyond issues of disputants, mediation servicesand conflict coachingcan impact teams and
the organization overall to help them achieve strategic goals, and ensure that goals can
be realistically obtained
So, what can you do to transform conflict into a good thing in your company or organization?
Set up an internal conflict resolution system for your organization
or business. Here are some tasks and/or principles to keep in mind when
developing a system.
the system based on organizational and ‘people’ needs.
must take responsibility for their own behaviour and needs. If you have a
problem, address it, do not avoid it, unless you believe you can let it go or
it will help you resolve the issue in the long run. If something was said that
bothered you, find out how to address it effectively. Read about having a constructive
confrontation (or discussion) and how to take self-leadership
in conflict resolution.
Leadership Support. Management,
HR, and Unions must encourage and support conflict resolution training and
encouragement managers and employees to manage conflict in a mutually
respectful way. This includes the provision of resources, human, special and
financial, in order to ensure that conflict resolution is easy to access for
all within the organization. Without leadership support, conflict is likely to escalate and become destructive and hard to fix (how to fix a relationship)
Build Team Cohesion
and Trust. Ensure that you encourage all employees and managers to build
personal relationships, and integrate this into a weekly agenda of activities. When
things do become challenging, individuals will be more likely to have enough Trust to manage these challenges effectively. Trust will also be essential when
planning, designing and delivering a program. See our blog on the Definition
of Trust and Building
Ask for the participation of all stakeholders prior to the development of a
plan for the organization.
Problem Solving. Encourage
interdisciplinary and interdepartmental problem solving (levels of conflict). If employees and
managers are given the opportunity to share concerns and brainstorm on how to
resolve conflicts, the organization is more likely to gather critical data to
prevent issues from hurting the organization overall. See our blog on the levels of conflict
within an organization.
Feedback Training. Encourage active listening and how to give and receive
feedback. If employees and managers are able to effectively listen to one
another, they will be empowered to self-resolve many of their issues, often
without the help of management and HR. This means more time spent on critical
issues. Never underestimate the power of active
Make it part of your weekly routine to talk about how you communicate, how to improve
interpersonal relationships, and how to address potential conflict situations (Top 10 Tips on How to Resolve Conflict).
In addition to training on interpersonal communication, employees and managers
must be given the skills to deal with conflict before it becomes an issue. It
might entail other types of training or services, such as those related to
stress reduction, whereby these might improve one’s ability to better address
personal issues that might lead to conflict. It might also encourage activities
such as meditation and yoga in the workplace, to help people feel centered and
capable of addressing issues in a healthy way. This is also covered in our blog
on self-responsibility, managing anger and our self-resolution tool.
Change Agent. Find a mediator, conflict coach and project manager to design, build and implement your conflict resolution system. Be sure to find a mediator with years of experience in workplace
conflict resolution to assist in this process. We’ve discussed some of the
essential tasks and principles to keep in mind when setting up an internal
conflict resolution system. However, they will be able to do a needs assessment
to determine the needs of the organization, and recommend how these may be
In summary, conflict can be used as a positive force of
change in your company or organization if it is addressed effectively. Leave your recommendations and questions on the blog in the comments section below. Also, try using our web app to set up your own system.
Build an Internal Conflict Resolution System - Workplace Conflict
We know that being a successful mediator requires a wealth
of knowledge and experience in conflict resolution. For a job in mediation,
we pursue academic studies and seek voluntary positions to start a successful practice.
We are accustomed to learning from our clients and from our peers before,
during and after the mediation process to improve our practice. We ask
ourselves; what worked, what could work better, and what must be changed to
improve the process.
Unfortunately, we often overlook the importance of looking
at our mediation
services practice as a business.
Looking at our clients as customers
can provide a great deal of insight that can increase the viability of our mediation
How to improve the customer experience
Key to any successful business is treating the customer
as the prime resource. If we don’t have customers, we don’t have a business,
and if we don’t have a business, we can’t put food
on the table. This blog is designed to
help you as a conflict
resolution expert develop new insights into running a successful
alternative dispute resolution practice, especially one focused on providing mediation
services. Questions include: how to
improve the customer experience, ways
to improve customer experience, improving
customer satisfaction and implementing
a customer experience improvement program.
1. Customer experience CX for mediators and conflict coaches
A mediator’s potential customers use technology as a primary
form of communication, so start using technology in your practice, or risk
missing out on future opportunities. Our blog on generational
differences provides a great deal of insight into this area of improving
services practice. Mediate to Go
provides tools for conflict resolution experts to help them improve their
practice. Our technological
features provide a means of improving CX with easy-to-use features for
experts in the field.
2. How to improve the
In addition to using
technology in new ways, you should look at every client interaction as a
learning experience. This is key to CX
customer experience. Constantly seek feedback through active
listening, and record important data to review later. This is the key to
know how to improve the customer
experience, or CX. A focus on CX
customer service means understanding your customers in new ways. For many
mediators, this includes a customer
satisfaction survey after each mediation
services session, for others it might include discussions with clients
during the session(s). A follow-up survey might provide an additional tool to
better understand the impact of your services. If clients were unhappy with the
CX you provided, a follow-up survey gives you another opportunity to address
their concerns and create some positive word of mouth. We recommend using each
of the aforementioned methods and any others you find useful. Before you even
start your practice, do a focus group to
better understand your client, so that their first experience is positive.
3. Ways to improve
After understanding your customer better and what they want
in terms of an experience with you, then address the ways to improve their CX.
Look at all of the data collected and conduct a SWOT Analysis, which is a
means of analyzing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your
business. Business consultants frequently use this tool when helping companies
better meet their customer’s needs. Ask for the help of a neutral third party or facilitator
to conduct the SWOT
Analysis so that you have someone to challenge your thinking and provide
more insights into the customer’s feedback.
4. Improving customer
In addition to addressing weaknesses in your CX,
think about what you can do to add value to your mediation
services process. We recommend using Mediate
to Go to improve your CX with various tools, including digitized legal agreements
and secure messaging. These
tools are an innovative way to improve each interaction with your client(s). Digitized legal agreements provide
an ease-of-use that modernize the mediation process in a fun yet professional
way. Secure messaging creates an
experience for the customer so they feel increased security when communicating
private information with you. This can build
and improve trust,
which is key to improving customer satisfaction and overall CX.
5. Implementing a
customer experience improvement program
“…activity of planning and organizing people,
infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to
improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers”
Taking CX seriously will help improve your business overall.
Be sure to ask for the help from a qualified Service Design Specialist. Learn
more about it with this video.
Definition: Use of technology to
resolve disputes between parties
History: People have been
providing coaching over the phone for years, as well as moderating discussions
online (during the reign of chat rooms at the start of the internet). In 1995,
Ebay commissioned UMass to conduct a pilot project between buyers and sellers –
using email to resolve disputes, with great success.
Scope: Can be an array of
technologies to facilitate communication and dispute resolution, including
messaging, moderation, video conferencing, case management and more.
Types: Can be used in self-resolution,[i]consultations, coaching, facilitation, training, mediation, ombuds and
workplace investigations, arbitration, etc.
Improve access to justice through easier access to courts, affordable and quick
Improve access to more immediate dispute resolution,
Facilitate negotiation with tools using mathematical models,[iii]
games theory, etc.,
environmental footprint, whereby documentation is completely digitized, parties
need not drive to meet practitioners, etc.,
Costs and Inefficiencies: parties spend less money on conference calls, transport
and travel, their issues can be resolved more quickly, (but it might be very
expensive when it could be for free in the court system),
Most mediators today communicate over email with clients. However, they are not
doing so with encrypted messaging. ODR can improve current processes of practitioners.
3.Concerns with ODR? (Also
see concerns related to the process below)
Change: Fear and discomfort of
change and using technology. Change comes slowly the field of law. Many law
firms waste vast amounts of paper; when technology could save money and reduce
the environmental impact. The status quo is easier to maintain, even if it
would be better. Some might fear the loss of business/work if disputes are
being settled privately.
Resources: Investing in ODR might
divert funds from other court needs?[iv]
However, this assumes that the current system works well (ignoring the inconveniences
and inefficiencies of court administration: rolling briefcases, documents
cannot be filed online, judgment often not sent electronically),
might not be comfortable with technology.[v]
Not exactly, even older generation is using technology.
People might not have access to technology? At the same time, it might provide
more access to a greater amount of people.
Advocacy: Some ODR systems do
not facilitate/ensure legal representation. But, participants may nonetheless consult
In BC, the bar was apparently not consulted,
Jurisdiction: Concern that
settlement decisions might not be enforced.
It might be better to encourage parties to seek ODR within same jurisdiction, so
they may have easier access to complain to the relevant ADR association and
Mediators might not have sufficient training to ensure effective security
4.Current trends in ODR in
Canada and elsewhere
Virtual Courtroom Environment: eCourtroom of
the Australian Federal Court,
Small Claims ODR: Address disputes
within court system that are not expensive to resolve, but cost the system a
Empowerment: Tools to empower
ODR Tribunal: BC Government offers
independent civil resolution for family and small businesses as created via the
Civil Resolution Tribunal Act,[vi]
Self-Resolution: Self-resolution tools
to improve client’s skills in conflict resolution,
E-Commerce ODR: Cross border
e-commerce transactions – see UNCITRAL,
When using multiple
platforms, one must determine if the site is encryption (now, AES is
standard - Users including Skype,
What’s next? Off the record
(OTR) encryption, which uses a combination of AES and
other functions to provide “perfect forward secrecy and malleable encryption”,
in order to move towards keeping online conversations private, like in real
6.Implications for ODR
processes related to ethics, party satisfaction, etc.
Informed Consent: Informed consent to
enter clients information into online database, newsletter, or use it
electronically, as some clients might be more comfortable with you using paper,
Quick Access: Some parties would be
happier to get things over with, have quick access, which might lead to
Some suggest that electronic communication leads to “distance”, and that
mediation works best when parties are physically with them.[vii]
a very traditional view, that doesn’t recognize how online is a valid and daily
form and medium of communication.
learning has been researched, and has been proven at times to make it easier to
participate in activities, and improve “the quality and quantity of interaction.[viii]”
“the benefits of using technologies in an informed and pedagogically sound way
can be felt across sectors”, especially taking into account “Learners needs,
motivates, learning styles and prior experience” and more.[ix]
Less Control? Mediator has less
control of the process?[x] Again, this might be an
expectations related to technology and DR on the cloud
“We look at the present
through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future” – McLuhan, The
medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects
Things are constantly changing
in the world; this includes the world of conflict and conflict resolution.
Young mediators have started to enter the field, some studying dispute
resolution at undergraduate and graduate levels, some coming from backgrounds
in social work, psychology, applied human sciences, communication and nursing
(see How to Become a Mediator in 11 Steps). Some have interdisciplinary
backgrounds, bridging mediation training with other fields, such as law. Many
new mediators might not opt for a law degree, and may simply get some training
in relevant areas of law through continuing education.
clients in mediation are also changing. GenX and GenY mediation clients have
been raised with technology, and now use this in how they create and solve
problems, how they interact with one another, how they act as consumers in the
world and what they expect from professionals (such as mediators). (please see
the UN Report). This is also the case for GenZ clients, who might be members of
peer mediation processes or sit with parents within family mediation processes.
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Mediators from this
generation are also different. GenX and GenY mediators are re-defining what is
considered best practice in dispute resolution. They use technology to
build and maintain their practice, to connect and retain clients, and ensure
credibility through offering customer relationship excellence with cloud-basedcase management. They adapt their processes to meet client needs and
expectations. There is no longer a monopoly on mediation practice, and now,
lawyers do not have the only right to act as third party neutrals.
Mediators from GenX and
GenY have a new way of working. No longer do they walk into the mediation room
with a bulky briefcase of documents and promote themselves through the
newspaper - they walk into the mediation room with their tablet or iPad, and
promote themselves successfully through social media. See our blog on how
to use our cloud based case manager.
Some mediators and their
clients no longer use email (let alone the phone), some only communicate on
FaceTime, Skype, Twitter and Facebook, etc. These mediators have already
adapted to the marketplace and know that their current and future client base
is already in the cloud. These cloud mediators know that consumers will not
just pay high prices for mediation because someone has a law degree. They would
rather opt for an affordable mediator with a great reputation and credibility -
which isn’t based on the letters at the end of your name.
(practitioner and client) trends per Generation:
(See UN Reportfor key
generational differences and similarities)
GenZ: 2000 to present
GenZ, which according to
some is the “conflict generation” due to having been raised during various
world conflicts, is also known as the generation of digital natives. They have
been raised with technology, and know not a world without it (see Wiki).
is normal: This generation was
raised in an extremely diverse environment. These generations expect others to
respect diversity in all areas of service, even if they do not themselves do
not belong to a particular group. This respect and comfort with diversity is
likely to spread to technology.
GenY: Born between
portrayed as egocentric, GenY’ers were validated and empowered when they were
raised, and expect safety and security. This generation is characterized as
being natural at “networking, multiprocessing and [being] global-minded” (UN Report).
1.Instant Service: GenY members want things right now, so online dispute resolution
offers a quick solution. If you’re not there as a service provider when they want it,
they will move on. If you are asked as a mediator to provide a document, they
want it right away. They want their copy of the settlement
agreement immediately, etc. Luckily, this is possible with Mediate2go.com.
2.Online Platforms: They are reliant on the internet, using everything from “Webinars,
Instant Messaging, Blogs, Podcasts, Avatars, Youtube”, Instagram, Pinterest,
Flickr, etc. These are the new normal in terms of reaching out and maintaining
client relationships. Mediators must use these mediums. Some conflicts are
created through these services, so an understanding of them through experience
is a new form of credibility that will be expected.
3.Online Learning: Learning can come in any format, including blogs, etc.
4.Client Focused: Client and mediator focus orientation is Email, Instant messaging and
Text, so clients expect this mode of communication.
5.Expect comfort and Respect for Personal Life: Mediation from home is a great option for
clients to feel comfortable. They expect personal life to be respected, so
prefer to attend less formal meetings
6.Relationship Focus: Mediation clients are motivated by relationships, sometimes of which
are all social media based, which means that mediators should be skilled at
making and maintaining online relationships. See our blog on the definition of trust and building trust.
GenY clients especially are looking for empowerment, so self-mediation and learning
about conflict resolution is what they want. They want to be empowered to
resolve their own conflicts.
8.Always Online: Mediators and clients use web and networks 24/7, so they expect quick
replies and access to information at any time.
9.Collaborative: This generation having blogged and played multi-player video games is
all about collaboration. They expect this in receiving services, and
collaborating with other mediators.
GenX – Born between
behaviours “of independence, resilience and adaptability” (UN Report) This
generation is more open to technology and some have embraced its benefits. Here
are some key characteristics:
1.Technology Motivates: Primarily on email and mobile 24/7 but new
technology can be extremely motivating for them, so mediators should, at a
minimum, be comfortable with email, and better, use secure messaging to protect
a client’s privacy.
2.Web-based Training: Comfortable with web-based training, so they can already be reached in
Already sensitive to design and graphics, so a nice web interface is key. They
are more likely to understand that clients also expect a nice interface, so
they know that they must have a great web presence, similar to the design of
BabyBoomer – Born
Boomers “live to work”,
and have a strict worth ethic, expecting others to have the same (UN
Report).This generation was also raised
when the nuclear family was the norm, so new types of families and ways of
living were not so common. As a result, they may be somewhat uncomfortable with
client requests coming in at all hours of the day, and new arrangements of
living together. Overall, here are some trends for this generation.
1.Phone focused: Stuck on telephone for some, but many are embracing technology
2.Not Raised on Tech: Assume that others see technology the way that they do, that it’s hard
to navigate - they underestimate how technology is natural to some other
generations, possibly being resistant to technology.
3.Exploring the Online: Already using email and google, but still behind on
Instant Messaging (IM)
4.Web-based Training: Want multi-media learning and well-organized knowledge dissemination
Traditionalist – Born
Known also as the Veteran
Generation, Traditionalists are “hardworking, financially conservative, and
cautious” (UN Report). As a result, they often look at client relations
1.Face-to-face is best: stuck with face to face contact only, and are less
likely to use E-mail/IM/Text due to their discomfort with change. Although many
are now open to new technology.
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