Just came back from Montreal Jazz Festival. Survived heat wave while listening to incredible music with artists from Canada, US, England, Columbia and even Australia. In thinking about our next blog, realized that playing music in a band is a lot like being a team member in your organization.
How, you ask. Well consider you have a diverse group of musicians, and they play different instruments. Yet, their goal is for each of them to contribute to music you will listen to. Now in your organization a diverse group of employees with different skill sets. And you each contribute to what the mission is. Further even when one musician steps out for a solo, it’s done within the context of the whole song. Again, when an individual takes a lead on a presentation or project, it’s done within the context of the whole project.
Also, I think we all agree musicians do not simply come together and make great music immediately. Just taking a wild guess, took many hours of practice. Having to learn each other’s needs & strengths and how to mesh them towards the music. Another guess, that journey had some conflict and they had to work through that also.
Now, in your organization, don’t you need to learn each other’s needs and strengths to reach your objective. And to reach that goal, won’t there be conflict you must deal with and resolve. The answer to both those questions is YES.
So, the next time you are listening to and enjoying music, just think about what it took to make that music and how that is similar to what we all should be should be doing.
At I & I Resolutions, we cannot make you great musicians, however, we can help your organization work together, including helping you resolve those conflicts that can prevent you from accomplishing your goal. So, let's connect and discuss ways we can bring you closer to your objectives.
Until the next time from the table of Thomas and Andy, to quote the Doobie Brothers, “Listen to the Music.” Take care and talk soon.
We recently attended a conference on labor-management relations where one of the topics was labor-management cooperation. Part of that discussion was on why the Obama Executive Order 13522 to create labor-management forums was rescinded with the reason being the goal of cooperation was not working. And our reaction was, what???
For the hundreds of groups, we have worked with, not once has their objective been collaboration. No, they wanted to solve a problem, make a decision, come up with a recommendation, tangible results. Collaboration was the right strategy to reach those objectives.
One of our pet peeves (we have a few) is when people who don’t believe in working together describe collaboration as that “touchy feely” stuff or singing kumbaya. Yes, we believe in working together and we believe an interest-based approach is the BEST way to resolve problems. Now let’s actually look at what an interest-based approach is, a process by which participants work to SOLVE PROBLEMS while simultaneously fulfilling their needs and attempting to satisfy the needs of others.
Let’s be clear, the objective when using an interest-based approach is to solve a problem. And by solving that problem we need to work with others to address and meet each other’s interests. Easy to understand, hard to do. Try to get together with family & friends about where you want to go to dinner. See what happens when you don’t agree on the same place and have to work to come up with a solution.
When it works (and it does work) the tangible result is the problem being solved, the intangible result is learning to work together to resolve the problem (collaboration).
So, to wrap up, we believe the best results come from working together. We also believe that collaboration has to result in agency, company, organization working better. At I & I Resolutions we can help you design those strategies that can help you resolve issues while also improving your relationship. Connect with Us
Until the next time from Thomas and Andy, have a great day.
Long ago, I heard the following story. A manager asks a scientist, mathematician and labor relations specialist/lawyer or union official (pick one) what is 2 +2. The scientist goes through many scientific equations and theories and comes up with 4. The mathematician does the same. The labor folks look the manager in the eye, close the door to the office and asks, “What do you want it to be?”
That story resonates when you think about labor law v. labor relations. Many of us know the law, and we can read the cases. But who determines the law? Arbitrators, judges, administrative agencies. Even if they are deciding “precedent” setting cases, should that decide what our relationship should be. So, let’s ask the critical question, who determines our work relationships?
Several weeks ago, we did some training for an agency and union officials that included communication/problem-solving training. After the session, a manager told us that he recently asked his employees & managers what prevented them from doing their job and the #1 response was the inability to work with others, lack of communication and trust. In other words, the RELATIONSHIP, not the law.
So, again not diminishing the importance of knowing what our rights are or having the technical skills & equipment to do our jobs, the key component to doing our jobs effectively is our ability to work with others and develop those relationships. It’s those pesky soft-skills that have too many rolling their eyes when they hear that term. Another question; if these are soft skills, why are they so hard to learn and implement? We can answer that question for another time.
However, back to the question of who determines our relationship. The simple answer is easy, we do. The more difficult question is what kind of relationship do we want? We can choose to have third-parties make decisions for us. Pretty easy. Or we can make the effort and develop a relationship that benefits everyone involved. Pretty hard, yet not impossible.
At I & I Resolutions, we will work with you to develop that relationship by providing the skills that will allow you to do your jobs. Our slogan, “We care because you matter”, is not just words. It’s a philosophy that we believe in, and work towards.
Until the next time from the table of Thomas & Andy, Happy Memorial Day.
Most scholars, would date ADR (alternative dispute resolution) and the practice thereof, 50, 60 maybe 70 years? Not so fast! First I must apologize for telling this story, as it involves my faith! Except one time when I was playing Varsity basketball, and we as a team, went into St. John’s Academy blaring “Jesus is just alright with me”, the Dobbie Brothers’! Besides that, I am a separate, Church and State kind of guy! I digress! I am at a Lentin Service recently and the facilitator puts up a slide that says“Jesus told his disciples and followers, be not only concerned with your interest but be equally concerned with your fellow man’s interest as well”.
Bam, it hit me! Even at the time of Christ, he was teaching and preaching the very principles of Interest based Services, meeting interest! I’ve said it before, it’s not magic, or pixie dust, it is very simple. Be open, honest and try to meet the other man or women’s interest in the path of life! If done, practiced and taught correctly, we can solve or at least identify problems and deal with each other more compassionately, honestly and along the way, do the right thing!
So, I can make a pretty good argument that the roots of our Practice dates back 2000 years! Mediation, Facilitation, counseling, coaching, just about any ADR program will have a healthy modicum of Interest Based Services, owes its heritage to meeting the interest of both parties!
All humor aside, a group in conflict needs to solve its own problems and it helps to have well trained in the trenches experienced practitioners like Andy and I have, with over 66 years of experience from both the labor/management perspective; then I & I Resolutions is for you! We cannot guarantee results but we can guarantee we will help you identify the problem, and speak openly and honestly, whatever your conflict or need!
It's that simple, do the right thing. Next blog we will address it’s simple, doing the wrong thing! Till next time,
Thomas and Andy
In 2004, Boston Red Sox Manager Terry Francona told Derek Lowe he would not be in the starting rotation when the playoffs began, despite him starting all year. When asked how he handled that decision, Francona replied, “The reason you build a good working relationship through communication is there are times you are going to have to deliver bad news.”
Think about that situation and apply it your organization. Should not your most important business paradigm be establishing and maintaining good working relationship both with external and internal customers? Yet, in our 60+ year- experience, the one mantra we hear time and again, “we must get the work out.”
Is It important to do one’s job? Of course, it is. The critical question is how does that happen? We don’t know anyone who works in a vacuum, so what we do more often than not requires working with others, including the ability to communicate and even deliver “bad news.” What some call “soft skills”. Well, those soft skills like active listening, asking the right questions, giving feedback, discussing and working through interests are what’s important to working together to resolve issues. The problem, concept is easy to understand, too often difficult to do.
The work you do is important. It’s tough under the best circumstances. In less than ideal situations, think of the barriers you face. So, it seems like a good idea to have those pesky soft skills. In fact, we would argue it’s those “soft” skills that help you get through the hard problems.
At I & I Resolutions our goal is to work with you to develop those skills that allow you focus on your ability to “get the work out.”
After years of distrust and broken agreements, the United States and the former Soviet Union USSR, that was the SALT I and SALT II nuclear weapons treaties were accomplished utilizing Interest Based Negotiations Principles! I thought, my God, no one hates, distrusts each other as these two parties! If it can work for them.
Make no mistake, doing this ain’t easy! But it DOES NOT require Love, just understanding an active listening and learning what the true interest and surrounding issues are for the conflicted other party!
You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to Love. But you should, as I have, when applying the principles, learn what the REAL ISSUES AND INTERESTS are!
So before being dismissive, ask yourself; is the conflict and parties involved really more complicated than the US/Soviet relationship? Because again, it worked successfully for them and it can work to at least identify the real and sometimes, underlying issues. That after all is the only way to resolve conflict and create lasting solutions.
See you next time! Thomas and Andy
It’s just too expensive, the time involved, training employees of the line, taking time to define the problem, employee feedback, their thoughts on how to make it better, I am the boss, and they should just listen to me and do as I say! I know, all valid but hold that thought!
First and foremost, utilizing facilitative and meditative process surrenders nothing! You are still the boss, this is not co-management as is often feared. The employer will simply deny their right to possibly finding a better and more productive workplace and workforce and will definitely be at least very challenged on defining the problem.
Yes, there is a little front loading on time and expense, but in the end, the employer, employee and the company as a whole will be far better off with a least a basic understanding of what the problem is!
Now let’s consider how much a non-productive employee cost. This employee may just have some issues they want heard, unabridged. Sometimes the solutions are simple, and once the problem has been heard and defined.
Yet now consider the unhappy employee, not heard, if he or she becomes a saboteur! This also does not take into account employee absenteeism, time away from the job, lower production, etc.
And finally, the tension will come out somewhere and one has to wonder how much workplace violence, threats, intimidations, stalking’s etc. could have been minimized or avoided, had the employer simply listened and effectively communicated to their workforce!
Listening and respecting your employees’ thoughts and ideas is a sign of strength of leadership, not a weakness, as is sometimes thought and believed. After all, who knows better how to better do the job than those who do it!
Now everything may not resolve this easily but I can tell you from experience, a lot of what we believe are huge problems can in fact be resolved with a little front loading, listening and communication!
Now do you still think that Collaborative problem solving is too expensive?
Take a few moments to speak with us. It could make a positive difference in your workplace.
Feelings. Let’s be clear, feelings are very personal and in the mind of the feeler their feelings are correct. No one can ever tell someone how they feel or that their feelings are wrong.
Regardless of what the receiver thinks, he or she cannot tell the sender how they feel. Many times conflict gets caught up in the explosion of feelings. That explosion may actually unearth the true problem from the perspective of that person.
We can’t forget the other party in this conflict. They also have feelings which are personal, near and dear, just important and true to them. Thomas and Andy have a lifetime of experience of dealing with parties who have had these feelings.
That insight and experience, not theory, allows us to gain the trust and confidence of the parties that their truths are heard by all. We are truly committed to the following, if it (your feelings) are important to you, they are important to us.
But know this. While we fully understand and respect the individual’s feelings, we harken back to the immortal words of the rock band, The Eagles, “there are three sides to every story, yours, mine and the cold-hard truth”. While this provides a little humor, we at I & I Resolutions cannot emphasize enough, not every conflict is solvable. However, we can assure you that we will do everything in our ability to make sure you have identified the proper conflict.
Take a few moments to speak with us. It could make a positive difference in your workplace.
As children we resolved our dispute using the weapons of words because size was so disparate. Words are powerful and they are the essence of mediation. We need to convey our thoughts and feelings through the words we communicate including validating those thoughts & feelings. Also, one of the great compliments we constantly hear about mediation is that may be the first and only opportunity to convey your thoughts and feelings in a safe place.
One of the best descriptions we have heard about mediation is that it is a facilitated discussion where all of the parties in the dispute can speak their thoughts/feelings and listen to the thoughts/feelings of others.
With the assistance of an impartial third party, we can do what we did as children growing up, use discussion and talk to each other instead of past each other. This usually leads to more durable resolutions (again see how important defining the problem). Also, even if the parties do not resolve the conflict mediation, they are miles ahead of where they were in understanding the conflict and each other.
Thomas and Andy feel uniquely qualified as mediators and conversationalists to help you by actively listening to your issues and concerns and asking the right questions to draw out the true conflict.
Be sure to look next week as we address the topic of people’s feelings.
Part 2 - Identifying the problem is so critical to conflict resolution, we are dedicating week 2 of this blog to its further discussion. Unresolved conflict can lead to unproductive employees who can become saboteurs costing your organization millions of dollars in lost production. Identifying the problem and attempting to resolve can further avoid other symptoms of an unhappy employee, which include absenteeism, and litigating the issues. In the worst case, it could lead to workplace violence. And think about it, because we did not take the time or have the skills to properly identify problem/issue(s).
Again, let’s be clear, there is no magic pixie dust that we can sprinkle over parties and magically solve their problems. However, if we can at least address the real issue, we have a chance to solve it. I & I Resolutions will work with you and provide assistance and skills to help you identify the problem that could lead to resolution. Again, the critical factor is to identify the real problem. Once identified, you have a fighting chance to resolve the problem. Even if you do not resolve it, you have a clearer lay of the land and what you are up against.
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