Reinventing Organizations and Conflict Resolution
In the book Reinventing Organizations (by Frederic Laloux), the so-called "Teal Organizations" are described. Teal organizations are companies that chose self-organization and self-management over traditional management structures.
Small teams govern themselves, and are expected to take responsibility for their own governance and for how they interact with other parts of the organization.
No manager, no hierarchy
What if there is not a manager in the company to go and complain? (or likewise, go a lawyer or go to Court).
The book gives examples of how this would work in practice (at e.g. Morning Star, a tomato harvest and processing company). A conflict resolution process that is highly effective.
simple but effective
A few characteristics: the rule is that employees first sit together and try to solve it amongst themselves, trusted (often senior) colleagues can act as a mediator. If necessary, a forum of specialists may be convened, like the elderly in a tribal village. Usually, according to Laloux, agreement will be the result. As ultimate resort, the CEO of the company can be called into the panel to add more weight, in an effort to resolve.
Like in formal mediation, there is confidentiality. Building rival factions is out of the question; you cannot badmouth. This is a strong point. This is what I found to be the case:
Arguments tend to split companies, communities and even countries. Not because of differing opinions, but because of the battle that follows. Like divorces, litigation, wars in politics and real wars have a detrimental effect. People stop working - feel bad, will start to sabotage the process and start a battle.
The techniques used in Teal organisations to deal with conflicts need to be taught. Even better if tools of self-mediation are taught by mediators, who make it their core business to facilitate these conversations.
It helps stimulate teamwork, makes companies more effective, and creates empowered (and healthy - less likely to burn out) employees that rely less on management and more on their internal skills to solve matters.
For info on IT mediation and facilitation: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Contact