The Whole Is More than the Sum of the Parts – Managing Conflict at Work
BY GILL DIX
Discover how East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust revolutionised their approach to conflict resolution through mediation. An Acas report explores the Trust’s multi-faceted strategy, training a cadre of mediators and introducing an ‘Early Resolution’ policy. With over 90% resolution rate and a shift towards informal resolutions, this innovative approach is reshaping workplace dynamics and fostering a culture of collaboration, explains Gill Dix.
In recent years Acas has been using a case study approach to explore organisations’ strategies for addressing conflict early, and in the most impactful and fair ways. Its latest report in this series, Mediation and early resolution in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, by researchers from Westminster and Central Lancashire Universities, looks at a programme introduced by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Employing over 8,000 staff, it’s easy to imagine how the natural dynamics of such a large, multi-disciplinary workforce will generate tensions and potential for conflict.
In their efforts to seek timely, less adversarial approaches, the Trust has embarked on a new journey, using a multi-faceted solution to address ‘an ingrained dynamic of claim and counter-claim which destroyed employment relationships’.
The new report builds on earlier Acas research, including studies of East Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PDF, 579KB) and Northumbria Healthcare Trust (PDF, 611KB) – the latter having adopted a similarly multifaceted approach to conflict management. In the academic literature, seeking holistic solutions to conflict in this way falls under the so-called theory of ‘integrated conflict management systems’, which emphasises the value of holistic approaches and the importance of managing conflict being taken seriously by senior management.