My Conflict Resolution Services

My goal is to assist you in reducing the negative impact of conflict and reaping its benefits. I help organizations and individuals resolve conflict and reach a higher level of collaboration and effectiveness.

I do this by providing

  • mediation services
  • conflict and communication training
  • conflict coaching, and
  • facilitation services (including planning, evaluation, and team building)

Role Of Conflict in our organizations

Conflict is a part of everyday life in a healthy organization.

People naturally have different views on how to accomplish an organization’s work. If all see things in exactly the same way, an organization is closed to outside influence and inner wisdom. It is in danger of stagnation.

It is only when conflict cannot be constructively expressed and so cannot be used as a source of creativity that it becomes a hazard for an organization.

Costs of unresolved conflict

Unresolved conflict has many costs for an organization:

  • it depletes the energy of all involved
  • it uses financial resources in managerial and staff time, sick leave, legal bills, grievance costs and severance packages
  • it reduces productivity as people focus on the conflict and away from the organization’s mission
  • it weakens the organization: people frustrated by the uncomfortable atmosphere will quit, allowing unhealthy relationships to define the organizational culture

An organization in a progressively weakened state is less able to carry out its work.

Dealing effectively with conflict is needed for an organization to live in accordance with its values.  Organizations will be most powerful in their leadership toward a fairer, more respectful, peaceful world to the extent they create it within their own organization.  We are challenged by Mahatma Gandhi’s words:

“We must become the change we wish to see in the world.”

Creative response to conflict

Most organizations respond initially to conflict the same way most people do:  avoidance and denial.   When the disruption from the conflict is too big to be ignored, organizations can use management power to make changes (e.g. firing, lateral moves or team re-organization) to diffuse conflict.

There is another approach: that of dealing with the conflict creatively—seeing it as a potential source of positive change for the organization and the people involved.  Conflict is an opportunity to have a new conversation within the organization that will yield important information for making the organization stronger.

Description of a conflict mediation process

Each conflict resolution process I lead is designed to meet the unique needs of the group. To create that process, there are three stages:

Stage One:  Assessment

I interview those who are involved in or affected by the conflict.

I explore what is happening from their perspective, what the impact has been and what is needed to improve the situation.

This conversation about the dispute helps participants clarify their understanding and develop a creative response to the situation.  It allows me to determine what kind of group process is needed.

Stage Two:  Analysis and Recommendations

I prepare a report usually deliverable to all I have interviewed with my analysis of the situation and a recommended conflict resolution intervention.

The report may be one paragraph or many pages in length depending on the nature of the issues and the needs of the client.

Stage Three:  Conflict Resolution Process

I lead the conflict resolution process.

This is often a problem-solving conversation among the relevant stakeholders. Either at, or in the days following, the meeting, I prepare a written report of the outcome.

Interventions for past clients include:

  • a dialogue visioning process
  • an organizational strategic planning process
  • a group problem-solving exercise
  • a policy development workshop to develop roles for board, staff and executive director
  • two-person interest-based mediation
  • conflict resolution or communication training
  • a team-building process

This may take one afternoon or may require several meetings over a longer period.

Principals guiding my work

Collaboration

My role is as an external process specialist who works with members of an organization to create desired change. I use a systems approach that engages all who are affected by a situation in improving it.

I share my knowledge of organizations and best practices but I do not impose solutions on an organization. Sustainable change only comes when an organization creates that change itself. It is my job to help you to do that efficiently and effectively.

Confidentiality

I understand the importance of an organization’s privacy. I do not disclose the details of my work outside an organization unless I receive permission.

Within an organization, I keep confidential specific content of conversations unless I have authorization to share the information more broadly.

Efficiency

I recommend processes that will involve the least use of consultant, staff and volunteer time needed to achieve the desired results.

Nonprofits and conflict

Nonprofit organizations may face specific challenges dealing with conflict:

  • fear that there is inadequate time, money or energy to address the conflict given the pressing nature of the organization’s work
  • concern that the organization may lose its external credibility and support if a divisive issue is publicly acknowledged
  • inability to track the full costs of unresolved conflict

Despite these challenges, nonprofit organizations do have some particular advantages when dealing with conflict:

  • strongly articulated values base
  • stakeholders with a strong heart-felt concern and commitment to the organization
  • individuals may have more motivation to do the work to find collaborative solutions
  • nimbleness: smaller nonprofits especially can move quickly and can implement tailor-made processes to address concerns

See my paper “Building Peace within Nonprofit Organizations” in the Resources section for more on the common sources of tension and conflict in nonprofit organizations.

Do you need my services?

Please click here to contact me.