Early intervention- Why wait until you receive a grievance?

It’s a horrible feeling, a tense atmosphere where I feel so uncomfortable. She says, “good morning” and chats away to everyone…. Everyone but me. I try to ignore it and pretend to be engrossed in my work. Then there’s the laughing…are they laughing at me? I don’t belong here anymore. Does anyone even care what I’m going through? My head pounds, my heart is racing and I just want to get away from here…..

This is a snapshot of a person experiencing conflict in the in the work place. The above scenario will occur maybe 4-5 times per day, multiplied by 5 days a week and so on depending on how long the situation continues.

A lot of people can relate to these feelings? Many of us have experienced conflict at some point in our lives but in the work place there is no getting away from the situation as you can in your personal life.

Disputes can go unresolved for months and even years where the impact of this environment can have an adverse impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. It is easy for managers to turn a blind eye to the matter or hope that things will resolve themselves but many times this is not the case and the impact becomes quite widespread. Some of the effects of conflict in the workplace are:

  • Absenteeism
  • Presenteeism
  • Stress
  • Further conflict / misconduct
  • Poor performance / poor productivity
  • Tension and discomfort for other team members
  • Exit from the organisation

As a trained and experienced mediator, I hear similar stories of conflict or misunderstandings that just need some support in resolving through a structured and supportive process.

There is so much more to mediation than meets the eye. It allows an independent person to listen, sympathise and support individuals in a negative situation. It encourages individuals to draw a line and move on. It helps both parties to build and shape their relationship in a solution and future focused way.

One of the outcomes from the mediation process is the agreement that documents the way forward. This agreement is not contractual but is an aide memoir for both parties; reminding them to give each other a chance, to forgive each other and move on.

Early intervention is crucial. Why wait until you receive a grievance? When you can see things are escalating managers should have the astuteness to be proactive and get some help early on.

Article by Monica Puri – Snr HR Business Partner, West Midlands Employers

(find out more about Monica)

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