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What’s really going on? – A diagnostic tool for accurate assessment of workplace conflict.

Ideal workplaces build loyalty, commitment and pride. Satisfied staff are more productive, produce quality results, seek solutions not problems, are creative, innovative and enjoy working hard. They enjoy being part of a successful organization and feel proud of what they, and their colleagues achieve. In an environment where people achieve great things, their confidence and respect for each other grows. A positive work environment that produces great results attracts and retains high performing employees.

Tensions and misunderstandings are common and normal. Inevitably different perceptions, agendas, and opinions collide. Once resolved, understanding and cooperation grows, along with trust, relationships and alignment. Unresolved, they lead to stress, hostility, mistrust, wasted resources, and ultimately, legal consequences. Unresolved tensions and misunderstandings affect performance, culture, teamwork, employment relationships and quality. But how do we really assess what it is that is causing or fuelling ongoing problems and conflict?

On the surface, workplaces can present an acceptable and functional environment, but often, just beneath the surface, there is untapped employee and organisational potential. Most people come to work to do a great job, however ineffective processes and human issues often get in the way, and many people do not know where to start to create a better environment.

In large organizations such as health authorities, there are often few tools to diagnose accurately the reasons behind significant staff turnover or staff dissatisfaction. Assumptions are often made, and ‘band aid’ solutions are applied that never resolve the deeper issues. With the help of a web-based audit, large organizations can now accurately diagnose and display visually with graphs, the exact areas in which unresolved conflict is impacting on ‘bottom line’ results.

The Workplace Audit, developed by a New Zealand based DR business, Concordia Dispute Resolution, is built on international experience and research done over the last decade. It identifies the key human elements that differentiate ‘high performing’ and ‘average’ work environments. It deals with perceptions as well as realities, and is sought after internationally because of its easy web-based access.

Measurement of specific workplace practices provides a useful snapshot of the risks associated with hidden tension and conflict, and people management factors that impact on ‘bottom line’ results. Measurement of HR indicators identifies the ‘hard’ costs associated with the hidden ‘human issues’ common in many work environments. With such an accurate diagnosis, the interventions provided by dispute resolution consultants are targeted and successful.

The Workplace Audit covers seven major workplace factors – Communication, Work, The Workplace, Conflict, Participation, Support, and Leadership and Management, and analyses exactly what it is that is causing the tension and conflict. Hospital Audits for example, have highlighted the need for better understanding between Doctors and Nurses of each other’s roles, communication styles, and motivation for doing the job. Improving these understandings leads to better working relationships.

The Audit also reveals specific data about:

  • Retention, absenteeism and staff turnover rates
  • Sickness and cost of temporary relief
  • Results of employee satisfaction and cultural surveys
  • Number and costs of employee relationship breakdowns
  • Employee and organisational development
  • Employee redundancy, misconduct and performance issues.

Unresolved conflict costs workplaces enough without the added cost of ineffective or misdirected solutions. Ongoing teambuilding and workshops that fail to meet the real needs of staff simply add frustration and can even fuel conflicts. This innovative Workplace Audit developed by Concordia, shows that effective diagnosis and assessment in large organizations makes for more effective conflict resolution interventions.


Hamish Brown

Author of the Workplace Audit and Managing Director of Concordia, Hamish Brown specialises in the key human elements that differentiate ‘high performing’ and ‘average’ workplaces. He presents boards and executive managers with insights into their organizational culture, and advises how to improve performance. Previously an Associate Director with KPMG Consulting,… MORE >

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