7 posts categorized "Family business succession"

July 22, 2019

Learn to Embrace Workplace Conflict

Conflict in a workplace is unavoidable. The ability to deal effectively with conflict is an important skill for everyone in a workplace and is essential for leadership.

Trying to avoid conflict is the least helpful method for dealing with workplace conflict. Rarely does conflict disappear when ignored.  It is much more likely to escalate, to blow up a small problem into a much larger event.

“The ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall,” according to Mike Myatt in an article for Forbes.com.

The failure to be able to resolve workplace conflict can lead to a loss of productivity, and block creativity and collaboration.   Another frequent consequence is the departure of talented employees who choose not to stay in an uncomfortable environment where they may experience bullying or a poisoned atmosphere. 

Recently I was working with two leaders of a well-established small business. The leaders were struggling with long-standing conflict between them.  As in many conflict situations, communication problems played a big part in the conflict.  Lack of information, unclear communication, different interpretations of information were all mixed up in the turmoil. 

Without sufficient information both leaders were making assumptions. Then all of that was escalated by an increasingly heated emotional climate as each focused on blaming the other rather than resolving the conflict. 

Both leaders had good intentions and wanted the company to succeed. The stakes were high. Their unresolved conflict was causing negative ripples amongst employees and customers, and significantly interfering with the company’s stability.   

The situation can be even more difficult if the participants in the conflict are trying to manipulate or mislead the others.

As a leader do not let yourself be caught in destructive crossfire of conflict in your workplace.

Develop the skills to be use conflict as an opportunity for growth and leverage differing opinions to stimulate the innovation and development of your team.

Build your conflict resolution skills this fall.

Join the course Fundamentals of Mediation at Munn Conflict Resolution Services in beautiful London, Ontario.

Early Registration Discount ends Wednesday, August 21!

Course # 1 – Fundamentals of MediationSeptember 25, 26, 27, 30, and October 1, 2019 – 5 days – 40 hours.

    • Recognized by the ADR Institute of Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario.
    • Early Registration Discount ends Wednesday, August 21!

Click here for full details about our Mediator Education Program.

 

Read the full article by Mike Myatt here

June 2, 2019

The Workplace Seven - 7 Ways to Gain Respect in the Workplace

Behaving with respect for others and being treated with respect seems simple and common sense. In extreme situations it may be easy to identify harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, or other human rights violations which could indicate a lack of respect in the workplace. Closer to the dividing line it is not so easy to distinguish respect from a lack of respect.

Recently I worked with a team in which there were complaints that some employees were not following the “respect in the workplace policy”. I was reminded that we cannot control anyone else’s behaviour.

We can control our own behaviour and make sure our actions merit respect in the workplace.  A common example is that when we hear gossip from others we can choose not to participate and disengage politely from joining future personal chat about people who are not present. The situation got me thinking about ways to gain respect in the workplace.

 

Seven Ways to Gain Respect in the Workplace

1.  Every day that you work demonstrate your unique value as an employee.

Each employee was hired to bring their unique talents to the workplace. Just like a professional athlete you need to bring your A game to work every single day. You gain respect from peers, supervisors and customers when you consistently make your full effort to complete each task in your job. 

2.  Smile. Stay positive and focused whether it’s a time of celebration or challenge.

A warm smile will take you a long way. When you are celebrating an achievement at work of you or your company, a smile communicates the positive moment better than words. Even when you are on the phone your customers or co-workers can “hear” your smile.

It is more challenging is to keep smiling and maintain a positive attitude when things go wrong. When there is adversity, the employee who stays focussed and brings their full strength to the job gains respect.

3. Be patient with your peers and yourself.

Recognize the strengths of you and your colleagues and make allowances for the weaknesses.We are all human and none of us is perfect. Show consideration by recognizing the strengths of others and being patient with their weaknesses.   Each of your fellow employees was also hired to bring their unique skills to the workplace.

Remember to be patient and forgiving with yourself, too. Compassion for yourself is a base from which you can extend compassion for others. Sometimes we tell ourselves negative messages that we would never say to someone else. That frustration with ourselves can spill over into our communication with others.

4. Go beyond the call of duty whenever you can.

Be the person who will stay late to finish a project or cover someone else’s duties when there is an emergency. While you need to follow the basic outline of your job, your willingness to do more than is expected will be rewarded with respect from your co-workers and others in your organization.

5. Know your limits. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

This is the shadow side of number 4. While you need to collaborate and do more than is expected in your job, it must be balanced with fulfilling the basics of your job. If you accept a workload which is too heavy, you may find yourself overwhelmed and not able to accomplish what you need to do.   Set boundaries for yourself so that you are consistently able to do your best.

6.  Listen to others.

Explain your point of view with care so they can understand you.Use your active listening skills to hear others and really understand what they are saying. Then after they have been heard, they will be more willing to listen to your perspective. Take the time to explain your ideas with care so that it is easy for others to understand.

7.  Collaborate with others. Build your skills as a conflict resolver.

There may be times when you need to work with people, even people you don’t like, in other departments and other layers in your organization. Accept that conflict will happen and be ready to work on finding a collaborative resolution that will work for everyone involved.

 

Struggling with conflict? Build your conflict resolution skills this fall!

This fall join the course Fundamentals of Mediation at Munn Conflict Resolution Services in beautiful London, Ontario.

Early Registration Discount ends Wednesday, August 21!

Course # 1 – Fundamentals of MediationSeptember 25, 26, 27, 30, and October 1, 2019 – 5 days – 40 hours.

    • Recognized by the ADR Institute of Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario.
    • Early Registration Discount ends Wednesday, August 21!

Click here for full details about our Mediator Education Program.

February 7, 2019

To Caucus or Not To Caucus in Mediation?

Caucus-only mediation has become increasingly popular in many mediations for business, insurance, even more personal situations such as estate and workplace disputes. Recent research shows that the caucus-only mediation approach has negative consequences.  As an experienced mediator, that research conclusion was not a surprise to me.

During a caucus, the disputing parties are in separate rooms, and the mediator moves back and forth between the rooms, communicating their negotiation messages.  When caucus is used for most or all of the mediation, the disputing parties are rarely in the same room, hardly talk with each other or may not even see each other.

Caucus is contrasted with joint session where everyone meets in the same room. Sometimes the mediation starts with a joint session where the mediator explains the guidelines of the mediation. After that the representative for each party may have an opportunity to briefly outline their party’s perspective in an opening statement. Sometimes the opening statements and even the beginning joint session are omitted and the parties spend the whole mediation in separate rooms.

Caucus-only mediation shifts power away from the people in the dispute to the mediator. This has negative consequences which wipe out much of the value that mediation can provide for the participants.

My experience over more than 22 years has shown me that mediation is more likely to resolve the conflict and more likely to result in a durable resolution, if the parties spend a high proportion of the mediation in joint session. It turns out that researchers have reached conclusions along these lines.

The report I read recently is a study of the court- connected mediation process in Maryland, published in January 2016. The study considered the effectiveness of various mediation strategies in reaching agreement. The study also measured attitudinal shifts of the participants toward each other and their belief in their ability to work together, over the short term (immediately after mediation) and longer term (3 to 6 months later).

The study found that in the short-term the greater the percentage of time participants spend in caucus, the more likely the participants are to report:

  • the mediator controlled the outcome,
  • the mediator pressured them into solutions,
  • the mediator prevented issues from coming out,
  • less satisfaction with the mediation process and outcome,
  • less satisfaction that the issues were resolved with a fair and implementable outcome,
  • increased sense of powerlessness,
  • increased belief that conflict is negative, and
  • increased desire to better understand the other participant “presumably because they did not better understand the other party as a result” of the mediation.

In the long-term, the study found that the greater the percentage of time participants spent in caucus the more the researchers observed:

  • a decrease in participants’ consideration of the other person,
  • decreased self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to talk and make a difference),
  • decreased sense that the court cares about resolving conflict from the time before the mediation to several months later, and
  • greater likelihood of the participants returning to court in the 12 months after mediation for an enforcement action.

Another finding was that the percentage of time spent in caucus had “no statistically significant impact (positive or negative) on reaching an agreement”.

Recommendations for more effective mediation:

The recommendations from the researchers were:

  • Encourage mediation “practices that focus on eliciting participants’ solutions and reflecting back to participants”.
  • Discourage mediation “strategies that are heavily focused on caucus and [mediators] offering their own solutions and opinions”.

When selecting a mediator, my recommendation is to:

  • Choose a mediator who is able to proceed with the mediation mainly in joint session using an approach which invites the participants to express their interests and ideas for solution.

My recommendations for lawyers and representatives:

  • Help your clients understand the benefits of joint sessions.
  • Help your clients accept that conflict, though uncomfortable, is better managed than avoided.
  • Help your clients develop strategies to listen  and express themselves effectively in the mediation.

My recommendation for using mostly joint sessions changes if there are special circumstances such as a safety risk which can be managed by using only caucus.

Although participants may feel more uncomfortable in joint sessions, my experience and this research confirms that avoiding the discomfort of conflict does not work as well for the participants.

While they may be able to reach an agreement using caucus, it is likely less effective for the participants in the short and long term. Mediation creates an opportunity to have the difficult conversation that is most effective for the resolution needed by the participants.

Nothing will lower your credibility faster than avoiding conflict.

–Morris Shechtman, 2003

Read the full report here.

 

Build your conflict resolution skills this spring.

Register for the Mediator Education Program at Munn Conflict Resolution Services this spring in beautiful London, Ontario.

Early Registration Discount ends Monday, Feb 11!

If you are considering becoming a professional mediator, our schedule gives you the opportunity to complete sufficient training to apply for the Q. Med. designation this spring.

Course # 1 – Fundamentals of Mediation – March 20, 21, 22, 25, & 26 – 5 days – 40 hours.

    • Recognized by the ADR Institute of Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario.
    • Early registration discount ends Monday, February 11 !

Course # 2 – Mediation Beyond the Basics – May 6, 7, & 8, 2019 – 3 days – 21 hours

Course # 3 - Advanced Mediation – June 3, 4, & 5, 2019 – 3 days – 21 hours

 

January 24, 2018

Guerilla Bridge Building - Conflict Management For Leaders

First there was guerilla warfare, then the concept was expanded to non-military ideas like guerilla marketing and guerilla bloggers. Now we have guerilla bridge building.

Conflict management skills are important for a leader no matter what the job title is. Left to fester, conflict can spread in the organization, consume resources, and become even more difficult to resolve.

A recent article posted at mediate.com talked about unanticipated mediation opportunities and gave examples from history. Author Peter Adler asked “Why not a new art and science of guerilla conflict management applied to the day-to-day politics that pop up when you are leading an enterprise?“  The skills to manage conflict are key for every leader and potential leader.

Imagine this: a CFO works in a family business, but is not a member of the family. The CEO is the founder of the business and reluctantly considering transition to retirement. There is a conflict between the CEO and his daughter, a 12-year employee who wants to be her father’s successor and is about to leave the company because of frustration with her father. This CFO has an opportunity to do some guerilla bridge building. The possibility of keeping this business intact and managing the transition to the second generation may hinge on whether the father and daughter can resolve their conflict.

The stories where family businesses are not able to do this are the ones that make news headlines. To me, the stand-out news items are the businesses which grapple with conflicts effectively, while managing to grow and prosper.

Where can you learn the skills to be effective at helping those in conflict to build bridges with each other? Many of us did not learn those skills in our formal schooling.  

Bridge building is also known as mediation. Leaning the skills of mediation equips leaders for effective guerilla bridge building whether they are in a large company, a small non-profit, or a community group.

Improve your leadership potential by building your mediation skills.

Join us for Fundamentals of Mediation, a 40 hour, 5 day intensive mediation course. The next course dates are March 21, 22, 23, 26 and 27, 2018 in London, Ontario, Canada. Early registration discount ends February 12!

Read the full article here: https://www.mediate.com/articles/AdlerEye1.cfm

January 30, 2017

Help! I feel powerless!

Maybe it’s something about the bleakness of winter. In the last few weeks I have had several people ask me variations of the question, “How do I negotiate when the other person has a lot more power than me?”

“When the other side seems to hold all the cards, how you negotiate is absolutely critical,” wrote Roger Fisher and William Ury in the influential book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In”.

First of all, don’t be discouraged. Your skill as an interest-based negotiator and your preparation can create the opportunity for success. 

It pays to think positively and optimistically, and at the same time realistically. There is no point wasting your time and effort trying to negotiate the impossible.  Unless you can make the other side an offer they find more attractive than what they can achieve if you are not involved, trying to get a better deal with them doesn’t make sense. The company offering a young person their first job after graduation is not going to offer the CEO job, not matter how well the grad negotiates.

Power is not static, so that one person constantly has it and the other does not. As you negotiate, the power may shift from on negotiator to the other.  That’s where your negotiation skill and careful preparation can pay off.  Just because you feel powerless is not a reason to avoid trying to change the situation.  Here are 6  tips to increase your power. 

  1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.     The more important this negotiation is to you, the more thoroughly you should prepare. Learn more about interest-based negotiation if you need to improve your skills. Gather and make notes of the information and ideas to achieve the next tips.
  2. Enhance your alternatives.    It may seem odd that one important source of power is to develop your alternatives to walk away from this negotiation. The stronger your alternatives without this negotiation, the more your negotiating power increases.*   You may or may not choose to inform the other side about your alternatives.
  3. Build a good working relationship with them.     This can be the most challenging and at the same time most effective step. When communication breaks down we often feel that the other person is the problem. Treat the other person with respect. Take the time to listen to them and try to understand. Help them understand your point of view. Acknowledge the emotions. Good communication is an excellent source of negotiating power.
  4. Identify their interests.    The more you understand the other person’s interests, the better you may be able to satisfy them at minimum cost to yourself. Especially when you feel that you have less power, identifying the interests that you have in common with them may be a key to them starting to appreciate your interests.  
  5. Be open to creative options.    Increase your power to influence them by inventing a way to meet their interests AND your interests. This is where your thorough understanding of their interests and your interests makes a difference. In the negotiation after you thoroughly understand each other’s interests it’s time to brainstorm with them for ideas that will meet as many of the interests as possible.
  6. Measure fairness by using external standards.    When it seems that you do not have as much power, it is particularly helpful to find standards outside of you and the other negotiator to measure fairness. For example, the new grad hoping for a job offer would be well advised to gather information about the range of pay and other benefits for this type of job in this region.

  * For more information see What is a BATNA and why do I need one?

    Build your conflict resolution skills by registering for Fundamentals of Mediation.  The next course starts March 29, 2017.

February 19, 2016

Why do I Need to Know the Fundamentals of Mediation?

I need to help my team members resolve conflict between them.  I learned mediation so that I could be more effective. -  Supervisor 

An excellent course. Must be taken by managers, problem solvers and those that have responsible jobs!  - Business owner

As manager of a team that provides services to the whole organization I end up mediating conflict between other departments and my staff.   I learned the mediation skills to do this better. - Manager

An excellent opportunity to build on existing skills and interests. Encourages alternative negotiation and mediation processes which are very useful.  - Lawyer

With my mediation training, I am positioned for promotion. This was a worthwhile investment in my career.  - Administrator

Looking forward to using my new mediation skills to build a retirement business mediating in my field. - Recently retired professional

Whatever your reason is

Fundamentals of Mediation is an opportunity to build your practical skills to manage and resolve conflict.

Next course dates April 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12, 2016. Early registration discount until March 4, 2016.

Click here to register.

Don`t miss this opportunity.

September 27, 2013

Fear of conflict in family business

“One of the biggest fears of the founder generation is conflict.” 

The recent announcement in London, Ontario about the listingfor sale of Kingsmills, a fifth generation family-owned department store reminds me again about the challenges of family business succession. Family business succession stories tend to make the news
when things go wrong.  This is a story of success:   a family business founded in 1865, 2 years before Confederation, which has successfully transitioned through 5 generations within the same family until 2013!

In the U.S. 90% of businesses are family-owned, employing from 2 people right up to Fortune 500
companies.  Family businesses account for half of the U.S. employment and half of the U. S. Gross National Product. 

Canadian statistics about family business are a little harder to find.  I looked at statistics about “small” businesses, businesses which employ up to 100  people. According to a CBC report in  2011 these comprised 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, employing 48.3 % of Canada’s workforce.  In 2009, 28 per cent of Canada’s total Gross Domestic Product came from businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

According to TD Waterhouse's 2011 Business Succession Poll of 609 small business owners, just 24 per cent said they had a succession plan worked out for retirement. Of those polled, whether they had a formal plan or not, only 18 per cent expected to transfer it to a family member.

The single biggest issue facing family businesses is succession.  For a transfer within the family, the statistics seem to hover around 30% or less for a transition to the second generation, 15% transfer to the third generation and 5% to the fourth generation. In other words  it’s the very  rare family business that makes it to the fifth generation like the Kingsmill family accomplished in London.  According to that TD Waterhouse poll, succession to the second generation is not even expected by over 80 % of those owners.

That’s a large portion of the North American economy relying on family businesses and not a very robust outlook for those businesses to transition successfully past the retirement of the current owner.

What is stopping the majority of family businesses from considering succession within the family?  In my experience the roadblock is often fear.

One of the biggest fears of the founder generation is conflict.  Many of those family business owners will do just about anything to avoid conflict. The fear of conflict may cause the business owner to avoid succession planning for far too many years, or to close the business or sell it to an outsider when there are family members who would love the opportunity of transitioning into the business.

Two other big fears on the founders’ list are usually loss of control and loss of wealth. 

What can help to ease these fears?  Good communication within the business and within the family.  Tough questions about whether the business can remain viable and the selection or skill of a family successor cannot be addressed unless there is good communication.

A skilled mediator can facilitate the difficult conversations between family members to help the succession planning conversation start.  One of the usual outcomes of this kind of mediation is improved communication within the family.  Whatever the family members decide to do about the succession, with the establishment of good communication at least they will not be driven by the fear of conflict to avoid  decision-making  - and that is good for business and good for the family.