Workplace Conflict Recognising when and how to act. Presenter: Mark Belanti Psychologist and Director - Carfi

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1 Workplace Conflict Recognising when and how to act Presenter: Mark Belanti Psychologist and Director - Carfi

2 Objectives The connection between psychological injury and conflict How to recognise and resolve conflict before it escalates Supporting Managers to have the conversation with people in conflict Supporting staff experiencing conflict Determining when you need professional help

3 Managing Conflict at Work Increasing challenge for employers. Conflict is cited as one of the main causes of psychological injury claims. Psychological injury claims are steadily increasing and incur the highest costs

4 Psychological Injury Claims In the Comcare scheme the overall number of injury claims determined has steadily decreased since 2010/11; HOWEVER The proportion of primary psych claims has increased since 2009/ / / % 22.5% Psych injury claims Psych injury claims

5 Challenges Organisations are increasingly turning to their HR departments to manage conflict Managers may find dealing with these interpersonal disputes challenging As is common with most disputes, opinions can become hardened, people become defensive and the situation can be quite threatening and debilitating for all concerned.

6 Feedback Loop of Conflict Conflict Situation Disengagement Emotional Reaction (e.g. fear, anger, anxiety) Dissatisfaction Distress Rumination

7 Impact of the Conflict Cycle Individual: Challenging event. Involuntary emotional reactions that result in negative feelings, thoughts and behaviour Illness behaviour- anxiety, fear, anger, depression Manager / Colleagues: Challenging events associated with a team member Emotional reactions that cause avoidance dealing with the individual Behaviour- resentment, avoidance, marginalisation

8 Individual Experience of Distress The degree of distress experienced by an individual depends upon 2 factors FACTOR 1: Personal factors / internal world: Perceived severity of the conflict event. Experience of prior conflict events. Personal coping mechanisms/strategies. Existence of robust support networks outside the workplace (i.e., family, friends, treaters).

9 Individual Experience of Distress FACTOR 2: Workplace factors / workplace response to the event: Willingness and ability to neutralise the event at the start. Willingness and ability to actively and appropriately manage the event as it evolves. Ability to avoid re-occurrence of the event. Willingness to provide support and resources in the workplace.

10 Avoid the Conflict Cycle The workplace response has a significant effect on the trajectory of the conflict cycle If we can effectively intervene, Then: We can maximise our ability to minimize distress, neutralize disappointment, and avoid disengagement.

11 Outcomes Not constructive Neutral Constructive Don t Be Afraid to Engage with Issues Constructive Low Passive Defensive Moderate Aggressive Defensive High Intensity of Engagement

12 Changing the Conflict Trajectory Local Managers are best placed Intervene early Intervene often

13 Why are managers best placed to intervene? Managers have local knowledge and can more easily maintain control of an evolving situation Involving and having discussions with workers will help workers feel heard, valued and individually empowered By having ongoing dialogue with all parties it will enable reality checks to occur and negate misconceptions developing Workers and management remain actively engaged in developing solutions to issues

14 3 Step Issue Resolution Process

15 3 Step Issue Resolution Process Step 1 Action: Discussion: Objective: Engage Act immediately / Make contact - Present observations - Evidence-based approach Yesterday I observed / saw at the meeting from which I have interpreted - Don t indicate a preferred outcome Commence the journey

16 3 Step Issue Resolution Process Step 2 Acknowledge Action: Discussion: Acknowledge that a difficult situation exists & the dimensions of the problem Explore Your Needs / Their Needs / Team s Needs I see where you re coming from / That is a good point. I can understand where you got that from what I said. Can you help me better understand that? Can you tell me more about that? Objective: Identify / Clarify Needs Receiving mode not Conflict winning mode

17 3 Step Issue Resolution Process Step 3 Action: Discussion: Objective: Facilitate Take a facilitating stance - Negotiate / Re-negotiate what action will occur and by whom - Reality test the options - Use What if questions - Implement actions/solutions - Determine follow-up

18 Summary Managers have local knowledge and are best placed to maintain control of an evolving situation. Involving and having discussions with staff will help them feel heard, valued and individually empowered. Accept and respect that individual opinions may differ; don t try to force compliance Do not view the situation as a competition Engage and allow solutions to evolve

19 Questions?

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