"Conflict is the father of progress"

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On average, employees spend 12% of their work time involved in conflicts. In companies with more than 500 employees, even higher conflict tendencies can be observed. Mediation is one of the most promising methods of thwarting this trend. 

Ms. Mueller and Ms. Held work in the production department of an automotive manufacturer. Ms. Mueller is the production manager and supervisor of team manager Ms. Held. Both women have different views about recording daily lot sizes. They end up arguing openly.

The above example might be familiar to some of you. Conflicts are a daily phenomenon. In companies whose employees work together for an average of 40 hours a week, conflicts are likely to be the rule rather than the exception. Every firm maintains its own corporate culture and thus also its own conflict culture. Disputes can appear in a similar way in various companies, but the specific conflict culture of a company decides on how to deal with disagreements. So, the question is: How can we constructively deal with conflicts in our own working environment? 

Arguments and conflicts in the working and business world generate costs. The fact that they can be evaluated is demonstrated by the conflict cost study conducted by the firm KPMG AG. The goal of the study was to make the conflict costs of companies transparent, and thus develop a spending optimization strategy. The study showed that, for a company with 100 employees, conflict costs can reach the realm of six digits in a single year. In addition to providing training for managers and executives, mediation is a promising instrument in conflict management. The loss of efficiency due to arguments cannot be expressed in terms of time, since conflicts are either sat out, ignored, or carried out in public with visible consequences. it is thus advisable to use a mediative approach. 

When used in this context, mediation is considered to be a confidential and structured process in which the participating employees or departments contribute voluntarily and self-responsibly to finding solutions and ending conflicts. In this procedure, the mediator is obligated to be neutral among the parties in dispute, taking on the task of managing the process. The mediation process is seen as a process which, at the same time, can promote structural awareness. The results of conflict research show that conflicts are saddled with an unfounded negativity. However, they can be stimulating and lead to innovation. Conflicts are always a part of life and always will be, so why shouldn’t we see them as an opportunity to effect positive change? Call it conflict optimism. 

A further study showed that in the 300 midsize and large companies surveyed, one-third of the participants indicated that they had previously engaged external mediators. Eighty percent of those surveyed were very satisfied with the service of the mediators. The potential of a mediation process thus exists, but it needs to be employed more often. A conflict culture can also be initiated and cultivated. Mediation is an effective method for this. In the case of Ms. Müller and Ms. Held, a mediation process led to hidden motives on both sides being revealed and to mutual understanding. This enabled the conflict to be eliminated within a short time.

Do you need a mediator? Contact us, and we can help you. 

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Thursday, 21 February 2019

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