Working closely with the client, we facilitate the design of "interest-based" conflict management systems.
We train staff, management and others to deal appropriately with conflict.
Conflict Management Systems Design (CMSD)
We facilitate the design of conflict management systems tailored to an organization's needs through ensuring the involvement of and ownership by the key stakeholders.
More than ever before organizations are questioning the direct and indirect costs associated with workplace conflict. Managers and employees, clients and contractors are thinking twice about using traditional win-lose adversarial approaches because they often cause even greater damage to personal and organizational relationships. At the same time, we are beginning to appreciate the extent to which unacknowledged and unresolved conflicts can undermine an organization's productivity, morale, and ability to achieve its goals.
We at RAI offer a systemic approach to helping our clients build and maintain productive working relationships through anticipating, recognizing and managing conflict more appropriately. Our approach draws upon the interdependent relationship between Organizational Development (OD) theory and practice and Conflict Management theory and practice. We help our clients to develop and introduce additional tools and improved practices which in effect establish a new paradigm for managing relationships and the conflicts situations which can undermine them. Our clients learn how to supplement their use of traditional rights based conflict resolution and dispute settlement approaches (such as defined by grievance and formal complaint processes) with less formal and more flexible interest-based approaches (such as negotiation, conciliation and mediation). Just as importantly, we help our clients incorporate interest-based principles, language and learning into their organization's value system, management culture, and day-to-day operations.
Our design process ensures broad-based participation of the organization's key stakeholders in the development and application of these underlying principles, codes of practice, skills, and approaches. This helps to ensure a positive, realistic and durable influence on how people live, manage, and take responsibility for their day to day work relationships, both inside and outside the organization.
RAI offers a team of specialists skilled and experienced in interest-based conflict resolution, organization development and conflict management systems design. We work closely with leaders and representative groups within the organization. We facilitate their consideration of strategies and approaches considered appropriate to meet their needs and expectations related to being an effective conflict-competent organization. We provide professional expertise in Conflict Management Systems Design as well as excellent facilitation and technical support to internal work groups and management committees responsible for the actual development and implementation of the conflict management system. We also provide executive coaching to designated internal champions who charged with leading the implementation of an internal conflict management system.
We offer workshop design, coordination, facilitation and reporting to help groups achieve better problem-solving or closer collaboration. Through technologies such as videoconferencing and group software, we expand opportunities for vital group interaction and improved communication.
Conflict Management Training
RAI offers experienced training and coaching teams who can
help people understand the nature of conflict and their personal and organizational responses to it,
develop, design and adapt a range of positive centered learning opportunities and anchored in well established interest-based principles and practices, opportunities tailored to the organization's needs
provide tailored, modular, and professionally delivered learning opportunities for people to develop and practice interest-based communication, negotiation and mediation skills, and
give people the skills, tools and confidence to manage their own conflicts appropriately.
RAI offers Positive Centered workshops structured to help individuals at various levels and in different roles exercise leadership and take responsibility for preventing and managing their conflict situations.
Introducing interest-based approaches to communication, problem solving and conflict resolution is recognized as the key to building conflict-competent organizations. Through providing positive centered, interest-based learning opportunities organizations can ensure that their people have the necessary skills and tools to manage their relationship issues constructively and appropriately.
Over the past five years, RAI has developed and delivered training programs and workshops in Interest-Based Communications and Negotiation, Conflict Management Systems Design, Mediation, and Partnering to over 500 people in more than 20 different organizations. We have also facilitated over a hundred different group processes related to relationship building and conflict resolution for organizations in all sectors of the economy.
At RAI we work in partnership with our clients to help them introduce conflict resolution training as part of an overall strategy for building an effective conflict resolving organization. Our approach is to ensure that the training component of any conflict resolution program reflects the needs and interests of people within the organization and is clearly linked to vital business goals and the relationships necessary to achieve them. Our training programs are offered at three levels of learning to reflect the diversity of interests and needs within any organization.
Level I: Awareness: To increase the level of awareness in the organization of the nature of conflict, how it works, the different types of interest based approaches that are available, when they apply, and how they relate to more traditional rights-based approaches.
Level II: Application: With the emphasis on practical application, participants acquire the knowledge, skill and confidence necessary to apply the principles and approaches of interest-based conflict resolution to their own day-to-day working relationships.
Level III: Practitioner: This more intensive level of training is directed at individuals who intend to practice as third party neutrals and facilitators of conflict resolution processes within an organization. These programs which focus on specific skills and approaches such as negotiation, mediation, and communications, explore the related theory and practice in more depth and involve considerable case work and coaching.
Partnering combines collaborative planning, team-building, shared vision and common goals to create successful strategic alliances and joint commercial ventures, and facilitate complex construction projects. Participants are brought together for intensive training, project review and brainstorming to identify and overcome potential obstacles to collaboration.
What is partnering?
Partnering is an approach to conflict based on prevention and pro-action. When two or more organizations work together on a project, no matter what the size or how many, partnering fosters a collaborative working relationship of clear communication and mutual respect, where "team building" between separate organizations best uses resources and attains goals. The basic premise of partnering is that the success of every project relies upon good faith, not legal enforcement, and that good faith can be built through specific activities. Partnering also sends the message that working together can be fun.
How does partnering work?
Partnering gives people a chance to agree on how to resolve conflicts, how to create common goals, and on how to keep improving. There are basically four phases to a partnering: agreement to partner, alignment meetings, a main workshop, and follow-up activities. The first step, agreement to partner, can be initiated by any of the stakeholders, possibly by holding an information session. Ideally, partnering is adopted as soon as the project first begins to crystallize, so that it can be included in discussions and in the budget. Alignment meetings ensure that the needs and interests of participants are reflected in the main workshop agenda. The main workshop, usually two days begins with training in basic principles and skills for effective problem-solving, then pulls the various groups together for brainstorming and decision-making. A signed Charter crystallizes their basic operating principles, and a Dispute Resolution Ladder lists phone numbers of the appropriate person to call in case of a problem. The follow-up activities include consensus-building meetings, planning sessions, progress reports and perhaps additional training. The RAI team stays on call throughout the project, being able to act as facilitators, mediators, and ombuds.
The mark of a sound partnering process is tailoring. We work with partners right from the beginning of a project to identify needs and goals, including budgetary restraints, and build these into the partnering design. RAI facilitators are experienced in a wide variety of domains, and are leaders in innovative applications of ADR processes.
What are its benefits?
The most obvious benefits of partnering have been in reducing the amount of time and money spent on conflict, particularly in litigation. Studies done in the construction industry show other significant qualitative benefits: project performance with improved project design and management, innovation and safety, and flexible resource allocation. Working relations show increased mutual understanding, better communication, improved team spirit, and a willingness to work together to solve problems. Issue resolution demonstrates timely and effective intervention, fewer meetings and less paperwork, equitable sharing of risks and benefitts, mutual accountability and an ability to adapt i n changing circumstance.
Our private ombuds or conflict resolution specialist can be called upon as soon as a dispute threatens. Through "neutral fact-finding", "confidential listening", and "shuttle diplomacy", our trained professionals offer practical suggestions on how to resolve the dispute or will recommend further measures.
What is an Ombuds?
An ombud is a neutral intervenor who can take on a variety of roles, using different processes. On short notice, they can counsel, coach, investigate, advise on, and mediate disputes according to the needs of the situation. Alternative dispute resolution expertise ensures that they first diagnose a conflict before arriving at a prognosis namely what process could assist in resolving a particular issue.
The Ombuds can also be the "ADR" champion within an organization, ensuring that new skills such as interest-based negotiation take root. In this type of mandate, they have a broader role of assisting in effective conflict management.
How does the Ombuds work?
An Ombuds is mandated by an organization to address an identified range of disputes, such as customer-manufacturer, hospital-patients, environmental complaints, or medicine and ethics. While some organizations choose to train employees to fill this office, there are some advantages to appointing an external Ombuds.
The main advantage is that the office preserves some autonomy and some distance towards the situation.
The external may also be more neutral, and able to draw from work experience in other organizations.
To be effective, the Ombuds must be easily accessed by users, and available on short notice.
Who can benefit from an Ombuds?
Organizations that have regular differences arising in certain sectors, or who are in transition can benefit from the regular interventions of an Ombuds. There are savings in not having the Ombuds full-time, since there are periods that will require little intervention. The long-term relation, however, is beneficial in building trust and legitimacy with someone external.
When you select a neutral from Resolution Alliance Inc. to fill the office of Ombuds, you gain from a network of experienced neutrals working closely together, able to provide additional long-term support for your organization and its health.
When differences arise between more than two parties, or when decisions have to be made, complexity in sorting out the differences between all these parties can become a barrier to agreement. The solution is careful strategizing, planning and organization. A multi-stakeholder negotiation is a structured process that builds sustainable agreements between implicated parties by maximizing consensus-building, by drawing upon each party's resources and skills for creative problem-solving, and by building in monitering of implementation.
How does it work?
A neutral is called in to assess the entire situation, and to design a flexible process in collaboration with parties, possibly through a design team composed of representatives. The process is voluntary, purpose-driven, inclusive, provides equal opportunity for all parties and respect for diverse interests. It also ensures accountability, realistic deadlines, and commitments to implementation.
Depending on who will be implicated, the goals of the stakeholders, and the scope of the mandate, the design team can structure a process in any form from an open Town Hall Meeting (for the exchange of information) to a Regulation Negotiation (for drafting and implementing new laws).
Who could benefit from multi-stakeholder negotiations?
Multi-stakeholder negotiations have received particular attention in environmental disputes and land use planning, however it is equally applicable to strategic alliances between corporations, government departments, and amalgamating hospitals. Wherever the interests and needs of different groups are divergent or unclear, a structured process can be crucial to achieving mutual agreement.