Top 10 FAQs about an Ombudsman

Top 10 FAQs about an Ombudsman

If you’ve been in business for years and have never heard the term ‘Ombudsman,’ don’t worry, you’re not alone. This weird-sounding word (it’s Swedish for “representative” coined in the 13th century) represents a vital service to organizations in just about every sector of society.

A company finding itself in the midst of a conflict management crisis that is sapping resources, creating a deep rift in the workplace culture and heading toward a legal nightmare, finds out fast how valuable an Ombudsman’s services can be in resolving the conflict and restoring peace and productivity to the organization.

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3 Reasons You Should be Talking about Conflict in the Workplace

3 Reasons You Should be Talking about Conflict in the Workplace

Is conflict helping or hurting your workplace?  Does this even seem like a plausible question to you? I understand if it doesn’t – the term “conflict” generally has a negative connotation, something to be avoided or resolved immediately before it finds itself in a courtroom and costing a business millions.

The truth is that you DO have conflict in your workplace at one time or another. Conflict naturally occurs when two or more people have divergent ideas, needs, and wants. It’s normal, inevitable and every organization experiences it. This is why you should be talking about conflict in your workplace – because unaddressed or poorly managed conflict could cost your business in more ways than you might think.

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How Conflict in the Workplace isn’t as Bad as You Think (and What to Do About it)

How Conflict in the Workplace isn’t as Bad as You Think (and What to Do About it)

An HR director I know who works for a 500+ person company, described their technique for working with conflict this way: “We don’t work with conflict proactively. We sweep it under the rug until at some point we’re tripping over the bump in the rug. That’s when we deal with it.”

Conflict avoidance is one natural way for humans to get through difficult conversations at home. In some cases, it can help keep the peace and may be a good way to roll. Avoidance also happens in a work environment, especially in teams that have not built the mutual trust needed to have difficult conversations on a regular basis.

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The Psychology of Conflict in the Workplace

The Psychology of Conflict in the Workplace

Many of us spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the company of this group of people known as our workplace. To understand how conflict shows up in the workplace, consider this: Each of us is shaped by experiences as far back as our early childhood, and (often subconsciously) we bring those experiences into our daily lives, and in the workplace, every day.

One can only imagine what each of us is bringing to the collective table that we can’t possibly know or understand in the other, let alone in ourselves! Is it any wonder conflict happens?

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Mergers and Acquisitions: 3 Powerful Ways to Prepare Your Team for Change

Mergers and Acquisitions:  3 Powerful Ways to Prepare Your Team for Change

In my blog about Mergers and Acquisitions and the Transitions that Can Cause Conflict I talked about the challenges that management typically faces in the post-merger implementation process – which, in fact, applies to any change management effort big or small.

What we know is that the ‘human factor’ is a key to successful change. And that conflict is the underpinning of any type of change.  As much as we try to avoid conflict or brush it under the rug…it happens, especially in response to the unsettling nature of change. We at Resologics have found that conflict can help or hurt your team, that unaddressed conflict can actually cost you in real dollars (find out how here).

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The Best Ways to Utilize Mediation in the Workplace

The Best Ways to Utilize Mediation in the Workplace

When do you know you need mediation in your workplace?

The first thing to know is what mediation is (and isn’t) so that you’re equipped to recognize the need if and when conflict at work arises.

The second thing to know is that when your company has a built-in system to proactively manage conflict, then you will never have to face the question of needing mediation. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because here’s the reality:  Few organizations have such a system, and we’re most often called in to provide mediation services when the client workplace situation has reached the crisis point – and spiraling out of control fast.

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Mergers and Acquisitions and the Transitions that Can Cause Conflict

Mergers and Acquisitions and the Transitions that Can Cause Conflict

There’s at least a 34% chance that an investment in an organization will be adversely affected by destructive conflict within the team. The statistics – and stakes – can go even higher when the investment is in the form of a merger or acquisition.

The human aspects of post-merger implementation of M&A deals have been studied thoroughly in recent years, and what they find in a large number of cases is that the merger, a good match on paper, fails in the transition process. Many companies focus on the financial and business systems transition, but don’t pay attention to the human factors until it’s too late. Cultures clash, employees leave, production declines, shareholders are unhappy, things fall apart. This has even been dubbed a “merger syndrome.”  A study by KPMG found that “83% of all mergers and acquisitions (M&As) failed to produce any benefit for the shareholders.” The overwhelming cause for failure that was reported? 

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Bullet Proof Your Team Dynamic - Measure It!

Bullet Proof Your Team Dynamic - Measure It!

So, who in the world wants to really see what their team dynamic looks like by holding up a big mirror? Fast paced, mission driven teams who know that even with the best idea in the world, without a great team dynamic, they’ve got nothing. That’s who… We searched for an ideal tool to help teams and team leaders look objectively at themselves in a non-threatening way. We landed on one that is both proven and ideal for small to mid-size teams (2-40 people). We’ve found that when we match this diagnostic tool together with our conflict focused services, the teams improve dramatically as do their results.

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Making an Impact with Feedback

Making an Impact with Feedback

Ever watch one of the talent, dance or voice reality shows? As a guilty pleasure, I’ve seen them all at one point and after every performance a panel of celebrity judges gives the performer feedback. Each judge has their own style and some have become infamous (think Simon Cowell and his no-mince opinions and harsh tones). From my perspective, some judges are better than others at structuring and expressing their feedback. The objective should be for the performer to understand what they did well or not so well, what they could do better, and take the advice given. Likewise, there are key guidelines for the person giving feedback to do so effectively.

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Trauma Informed Mediation - Guidance for Mediators and Ombuds Working In Traumatized Communities

Trauma Informed Mediation - Guidance for Mediators and Ombuds Working In Traumatized Communities

For mediators and ombuds working in traumatized communities, it is critical to have an approach that is trauma sensitive and trauma informed. Trauma  is extremely complex and multi-layered. For our purposes we will address only a few essential aspects. These include:

  1. Basic understanding of the nature and effects of trauma
  2. Basic understanding of vicarious or secondary trauma
  3. Basic practices for self care
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Reactions to Conflict: Childhood Decides

Reactions to Conflict: Childhood Decides

Seeking to understand the root of conflict is a complex task. The importance of early experience cannot be overstated as we attempt to navigate and resolve conflicts in families, communities, and within systems. Often unnoticed, but critically important, is the effect of early childhood experiences and the results that may appear later in life, making traditional mediation and conflict resolution efforts appear at the very least confusing, and often daunting. For ombuds, mediators, and alternative dispute resolution practitioners, increasing our awareness of the ways in which childhood decides is helpful in our understanding of how human beings react and respond in the face of conflict.

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Your Team’s Not a Courtroom; Upgrade from Dispute Resolution to Conflict Management

Your Team’s Not a Courtroom; Upgrade from Dispute Resolution to Conflict Management

Dispute resolution misses, then, two critical components that conflict management handles. Dispute resolution lacks proactive prevention and doesn’t harness the beneficial power of conflict.

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The Juice in Hackathons is in the Teams, Not the Ideas

The Juice in Hackathons is in the Teams, Not the Ideas

Hackathons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes these days. From the Food Hack to the Sustainability Hackathon to the classic Hack Whatever-You-Want style event, they can be invigorating. I’ve spent time at several Hackathons this year, both as an observer and an Ombudsman (conflict advisor). From a team dynamics standpoint there aren’t many places where you can watch the entire life cycle of a team (sometimes 30+ teams) in less than 48 hours. It’s like watching a bunch of startup companies run themselves through a time machine, only it’s more complex. That’s right, more complex. In this article I’ll briefly explain what I mean from a team dynamics perspective and then pass along some fast and simple steps that will help you get to higher performance with your next team.

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Harness the Power of Conflict to Spur Innovation & Productivity

Harness the Power of Conflict to Spur Innovation & Productivity

Constructive Conflict is an extremely valuable tool that can help business teams enhance performance when it is actively and thoughtfully engaged in. The unplanned for and haphazard use of conflict within teams can sometimes enhance performance, yet carries with it the greater risk of negative outcomes when compared to anticipated and structured intellectual conflict interactions. Without some constructive conflict planning, teams tend towards conflict avoidance and accomodating behavior that can lead to stagnation and destructive conflicts.

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Got Innovation? Quantify your team’s conflict capacity with the Innovation Estimator™

Got Innovation? Quantify your team’s conflict capacity with the Innovation Estimator™

I last wrote about the new Conflict Calculator™ and the benefits of measuring the costs associated with negative conflict outcomes in teams. This time I’d like to focus on the flip side of that equation, the cost to a business for not having a team dynamic that embraces and uses conflict for positive outcomes.

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Got Conflict? Measure the $ Cost with the Conflict Calculator™

Got Conflict? Measure the $ Cost with the Conflict Calculator™

“Show me the money!” After a year of interviews, research, and working on the Resologics model I have heard that statement from many, many people. Business savvy folks want to know what a conflict is actually costing them in real dollars. We set out in early November of 2013 to build a single calculator that would show exactly that.

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Conflict Systems at Work in Startups

Conflict Systems at Work in Startups

Behind most disputes is a system that perpetuates the problem. Uncovering the system will reveal why these negative conflict outcomes keep coming back, and, hopefully, how to fix them for good.

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Business Culture Resilience for Founders – Work with Conflict

Business Culture Resilience for Founders – Work with Conflict

The following ideas for deescalating and preventing destructive conflict from slowing down or taking over your business are huge and much easier said than done. The ability to practice them in real time when you are in the midst of rising tensions comes with practice, patience, self-reflection and pure guts.

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Conflict Spirals Within Business Teams

Conflict Spirals Within Business Teams

Knowing when you or your team is in a conflict spiral, and how to exit from it, is critical in supporting high performance and consistent growth. The healthy environment in business teams where strong relationships and bold ideas mix and bang together is called the Creative Tension Zone. Teams fall out of the Creative Tension Zone for a variety of reasons.

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Conflict Curve Theory and How It Fits High Potential Startups and Their Investors

Conflict Curve Theory and How It Fits High Potential Startups and Their Investors

The dynamics of people working with each other is complex. The area of strong relationships and extreme idea exchange is called the Creative Tension Zone. Teams fall out of the Creative Tension Zone for a variety of reasons. This article is intended to help you build a greater awareness around the idea that tension can tip into destructive conflict and is predictable. I believe that in any part of our businesses, being as aware as possible of what is happening all around us, in real time, is the key to making good decisions and staying in high growth mode. The last post talked about warning signs that conflict is brewing. Here I’ll broaden that view a little by talking about the Conflict Curve. It’s fascinating!

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