Phil Barrette, Ph.D., Reconcilable Differences Inc

By: Phil Barrette, Ph.d  09-12-2011
Keywords: conflict resolution

Workplace Assessments

A Workplace Assessment is an opportunity to capture a snapshot of the quality of workplace relationships and the office/organizational culture. Focus groups, individual interviews and a customized questionnaire are all used to collect data confidentially.

In addition to identifying the present culture, there is also an effort made to gather how the organization might improve if everyone worked together to problem solve.

The themes and results emanating from this Workplace Profile give direction and steps to be taken through a Workplace Intervention.

Workplace Interventions

This program consists of five half-day modules:

  1. Communication and Conflict Resolution Skill Building;
  2. Professional Actors who play out specific participant-identified workplace issues and explore alternative ways of achieving resolution;
  3. Team Assessment;
  4. Application of theory and skills to specific work deliverables; and
  5. 30-45 day follow up.

In some cases, the Workplace Intervention can be offered without the Workplace Assessment.

Union/Management Relationships

Similar to a marriage, either partner is quite capable of building a collaborative productive relationship or making life miserable for the other. Issues such as respect and recognition tend to underlie overt strike or grievance behaviour. Management’s frustration with entitlement can lead to resentment and increased micromanaging or punitive behaviour.

Misperceptions, misunderstandings and projection can all lead to righteous beahiour on both sides. The Workshop Intervention highlights the source of frustration for all and options/skills to change the outcome.

Family Business Members Facilitated Discussions

Running a family business is not for the weak-hearted. Raising a family or starting a business is a major challenge. When these two worlds are combined, it can often lead to potential ‘hat’ confusion (boss, brother, co-owner, father, spouse, bro- in-law, CEO, common-law, former spouse, shareholder & child hats) and with it boundary confusion. It is a road fraught with emotional potholes and glacier highs. Sometimes the distance between the two can be terribly long or frightenly short.

Trust and communication are two indispensable commodities that families in business require. A third prerequisite is the ability to settle differences and end any emotional logjam. It is sobering to know that 60-70% of family wealth transfers fail when one or more of these three elements are absent.

The antidote to potential family tensions and unhappiness is equipping members with verbal and behavioural skills to articulate their needs without doing harm to their relatives.

Mergers and Acquisitions

“Often, mergers turn out to be just acquisitions”

– Author unknown

It is worth noting that:

  • 90% of all M & A’s fall short of their objectives
  • Less than 33% attained profit goals in a study of 1,000+ companies
  • Less than 50% met expense-reduction goals

The Merger Trap refers to the belief that since we bought you, we now own you and therefore you should do it our way. This manner of thinking may promote conflict, resistance, or passive-aggressive behaviour. It can also sabotage the merger.

The challenge and goal in any merger or acquisition is to integrate the previous work cultures by allowing them to merge and evolve into a new one. A work culture acquired and then ignored seems penny-wise and pound-foolish. If one culture was worth purchasing, then surely, it must be also worth valuing. Unconditional respect, listening and trust will facilitate that integration.

Employee Resistance – Understanding and addressing the source and nature of pushback is what enables any M&A, or any relationship for that matter, to be highly successful.

Intervention Strategy – SWR workshops support newly merged participants to learn to:

  • Expand their avenues of communication
  • Become more aware of each other’s cultural gifts and
  • Learn techniques on how to break up emotional or territorial log jams

Keywords: conflict resolution

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