Have you ever dreaded going to work? Have you ever felt like you were walking into the lion's den as soon as you open the door to your workplace? Have you ever desired to shut yourself away from the rest of the workplace because you feel oppressed by the environment? These are sign of a workplace that does not work. These are signs that the system of conflict management is unfair. In such workplaces conflict never seems to get resolved and the smallest issues seem to grow into insurmountable obstacles. More time is spent embroiled in conflict than in getting any work done. And often the quality of work suffers because people refuse to share information for fear it will be used against them in some way. In such workplaces people with options take them. Those who have job prospects elsewhere move on. And those left behind become increasingly bitter.
So you know that the workplace is not working. What you probably dont know is why. You have theories of course. But these theories likely revolve around individuals. This is because individual actions lie on the surface of conflict. But underneath that surface is falty structure that breeds conflict among individuals.
Over the next couple of months, I will be introducing a theory about the elements of fairness in workplace conflict management systems. I will thoroughly explain each of the 25 measures of workplace fairness. This theory can be found in the book Workplaces That Work (see www.workplacesthatwork.ca).
In this article I will introduce the 25 measures with a thorough review of each measure in follow-up articles.
MEASURES OF A FAIR CONFLICT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
I have constructed a fairness measurement theory that includes 21 focuses divided up into four quotients. Every workplace conflict management system can be looked at through the focuses listed below (in lower case). So for example, the elements of Justice in the workplace include Access, Applicability, Independence, Protection, Support, Procedural Fairness, and Legal. By analyzing the conflict management system through each of these focuses we come to understand how Just the system is. Likewise, by looking at how well the system manages interest, alternatives, cost, flexibility, education, timeliness, and encourages self-help options, we can determine how Efficient the system is. We can measure Engagement by looking at participant buy-in and participant involvement. Finally, we can measure how well Resourced the system is by looking at the human, facilities, and financial resources devoted to the system, and by analyzing the system's focus on continuous improvement.
Stay tuned for a thorough explanation of each Quotient and each Focus.