It is estimated that employees spend 42% of their time engaging in or attempting to resolve conflict and 20% of Managers’ time is consumed with conflict-related issues.
Masters and Albright (2002), in The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace, point out that people thrive on conflict in most areas of their lives–football games, political debates, legal disputes–yet steer clear from workplace conflicts. But conflict is actually a healthy way to challenge the existing order and essential to change in a workplace.
The real problem is not conflict per se but managing conflict.
Dana (2001), in Conflict Resolution: Mediation Tools for Everyday Work Life, argues that workplaces are changing. As interpersonal rules become looser and deadlines become tighter, conflict resolution is gaining importance as a strategic management issue.
Organisations that recognise the necessity of strategically managing internal conflict will be one step ahead in increasingly competitive business environments.
Cloke and Goldsmith (2011), in Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job, reveal how the inevitable disputes and divisions in the workplace are actually opportunities for greater creativity, productivity, enhanced morale, and personal growth.
Clearly, confronting and managing organisational conflicts presents a major challenge to organisations that wish to compete successfully in today’s global economy.
In order to reduce the competition and conflict over the allocation of time and money, some form of decision-making process capable of finding solutions that can meet the interests of Shareholders (Commercial Responsibility), Operations and CI (Consumer Value) and Workers (a safe, secure and satisfying Culture), is required.
Interest-Based Problem-Solving meets that need.
But what is Interest-Based Problem Solving?
Interest-Based Problem-Solving is an outcome of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution, and was captured by Fisher, Ury and Patton (1981) in their book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.
Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. The four key principles of Interest-Based Problem-Solving are:
- Separate the people from the problem.
- Focus on interests, not positions.
- Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
- Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
Using these problem solving principles, the conflict in the decision-making process is not only reduced but is harnessed to deliver greater creativity, productivity, enhanced morale, and personal growth.