When does a disagreement become a conflict?
It is not always easy to pinpoint when a disagreement becomes a conflict because of the different ways that people react. But there are distinct stages in the lifecycle of conflict, where they will display certain common behaviours.
Conflict is an inherent part of modern life. Organisations are dynamic and complex, made up of people with increasingly diverse backgrounds, opinions, values and expectations. Conflict causes all manner of problems including health problems resulting in sickness and stress or anxiety. It can have a detrimental impact on morale
Formal procedures have an important role to play. But many disputes could potentially be settled without the need to pursue a formal grievance procedure. Once formal procedures have been triggered, the tendency is for differences to become more adversarial. Once the conflict has escalated and positions have become entrenched, it is very difficult to alter people’s perceptions and have an open discussion.
It is not only the organisation that suffers if there is conflict between people. The situation can have serious implications for the individuals concerned and for bystanders, who are not immune to events taking place around them. For every incident of conflict there are likely to be several people who witness or who are drawn into the disagreement.
Why a mediation process is required?
‘Mediation is based on the principle of collaborative problem-solving, with a focus on the future, and rebuilding relationships, rather than apportioning blame.’
Mediation is increasingly being used to resolve disputes in many areas of life, and involves a neutral third party bringing two sides together with the aim of reaching a mutual agreement.
People are the key to organisational success, and negative conflict between individuals or groups of individuals can severely hamper an organisation’s drive for success and damage member well-being.
Mediation is especially effective when used at the initial phase of any disagreement, before conflict escalates. An early intervention can prevent both sides from becoming entrenched and the difference turning into a full-blown dispute. If the disagreement is resolved early on, there is less chance of the relationship breaking down irrevocably. This improves the likelihood of maintaining good and productive relations in the longer term.
Faster timescales for the resolution of grievances or disputes can only be achieved with the support and cooperation of members, and timely communication.
This process is not designed to resolve disputes/grievances between members and dealers or Auto- Trail VR Ltd.
When a member has a legitimate grievance, it will usually, but not exclusively, be at a rally venue.
The first step should be to discuss the problem with the rally steward, and try to resolve the matter amicably.
If a rally steward has a problem with a member attending a rally, not observing the regulations that should apply, the steward should approach the member and explain reasonably what changes are needed to comply, and in what timescale.
Every effort should be made to resolve a dispute or disagreement between members at the point at which the problem arises, only if this does not achieve consensus should the matter be escalated to the Mediation Officer for assistance.
The person with the grievance should document the issue, stating the time and place events occurred, who was involved, and the names and contact details of any independent witnesses.
Send these details to the Mediation Officer, who will contact the parties involved and verify the facts, and if necessary call for additional information to corroborate statements made by both parties.
Having identified the issues to explore, the mediation is now about encouraging communication between the parties, promoting understanding, empathy and changing perceptions.
With members cooperation this information could be assembled within 21 days for consideration initially by the Mediation Officer, who would use his best endeavours to resolve the issue between the parties concerned. The aim is to begin to shift the focus from the past to the future and begin to look for constructive solutions.
If the matter is still not resolved, the case would be presented to the Board for consideration, who will ensure the solution and agreements are workable and record any agreement reached, provide a copy of the agreed statement to those involved and explain their responsibilities for its implementation (by e-mail within 28 days, or more complex issues at the next board meeting, all time periods commence from the date of the grievance being reported).
Anybody without access to e-mail should direct their initial communication to the Secretary, who will forward to the Mediation Officer.
Although mediation is often perceived as a form of early intervention in disputes, it can also be used to rebuild relationships after a member has undergone a grievance process. Anything said during the mediation process should be confidential to the parties.
D. Wort 01/03/14
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