Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are as much a feature of the Australian workplace as human beings, equipment, furniture and paper.

While workplace conflict is almost universally viewed in negative terms, the effective management of it requires a departure from this traditional mindset.  Conflict is in fact capable of of having both positive and negative outcomes depending on how it is managed.  It is not the conflict itself but how employees and employers prepare for and respond to conflict that is central to whether or not the needs and interests of those involved an impacted by a conflict will be met and whether a resolution can be achieved.

The effective management of workplace conflict in the early 21st century is not achieved by accident.  Rather, it requires planning, resourcing and the development of individual and organisational capability (‘conflict competency’).

Devine Law at Work is an enthusiastic advocate for conflict competency in Australian workplaces.   We offer a very broad range of skills in conflict resolution and management to ensure that each conflict is responded to in the most effective way possible.  We achieve this by ensuring that we undertake a preliminary assessment; in contrast to the conventional approach of following predetermined processes.

Our range of services in conflict resolution are outlined below.

Preliminary Assessment: Preliminary assessment is an essential first step to ensure that the most effective way of responding to a workplace conflict is identified, the purpose of which is to ensure that the ‘right’ problem is solved by the most appropriate method.   This problem-centred and agile approach recognises that there are many potential pathways to resolution.

Conflict Coaching: Conflict management coaching is a structured process that helps people on a one on one basis to develop or enhance their skills, knowledge and competencies to engage in and manage interpersonal conflict effectively.  It is a voluntary, confidential process that focuses on each individual’s conflict management goals. It is a process which is very effective when a senior executive, manager or other employee needs to develop their conflict competency.

Elizabeth Devine is trained in and applies the CINERGY conflict management coaching model.

Early Neutral Evaluation: Early neutral evaluation has many of the same characteristics as an investigative process, however it does not have the same degree of formality and tends to be less confronting to the parties.  The role of the third party (the Evaluator) is to make a determination on the key issues in dispute and the most effective means of resolving the dispute without determining the facts of the dispute.  It is a process which is very effective when the nature of the conflict warrants action being taken but there is resistance to a formal investigation and the employer values guidance without a formal determination.

Facilitation: Facilitation involves a third party (the Facilitator) who can assist the parties to a conflict to discuss the matter and work toward a resolution on mutually agreed terms.  It is collaborative in nature and its focus is on outcomes rather than the facts of the case and who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’.  The Facilitator informs themselves of the key issues and works with the parties (which may be individuals or a group) to explore ways in which the matter may be resolved.  The Facilitator does not have an advisory or determinative role.

Mediation: Mediation involves a third party (the Mediator)  who facilitates a structured form of negotiation between the two or more parties.   As with the abovementioned facilitation process, the focus of the process is on how the issue can be resolved and how future issues will be avoided or managed.    It is collaborative in nature and is most effective when the parties engage in it on a voluntary basis.  The Mediator does not have an advisory or determinative role.

Workplace Investigation: Workplace investigations involve a third party (the Investigator) obtaining information and examining the issues at hand and then determining whether or not allegations made by one party (the Complainant) against another (the Respondent) are substantiated.  This process is focused on facts rather than outcomes. This process is inquisitorial in nature.

Issues Resolution System: We assist our clients in designing, developing and implementing an issues resolution system within their business.  This 21st-century approach promotes competence in dealing with conflict throughout an organisation, integrates issues resolution with all other organisational systems (e.g. finance, administration, human resources, client relationship management), recognises that there are many pathways to resolution and facilitates early and low-key resolution.

Workshops: Our workshops are designed to develop and enhance conflict resolution and resilience skills and build confidence in senior executives, managers and other employees.  This includes skills in decision-making, personal resilience, self-leadership, difficult conversations, de-escalation, procedural fairness, conflict assessment, conflict coaching, facilitation, mediation, interviewing and information gathering.

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