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Don’t let the ‘flames’ of conflict become a bushfire

With the New Year, there often comes an opportunity to approach processes in a new and fresh way, especially within organisations. However this change and the excessive workload that stems from this change, can result in an increased number of ‘conflict bushfires’.

The VM Group is regularly invited into organisations where these conflict bushfires are raging or are just about to spark.  Consequently, we thought we would share with you some of the basic insights and strategies an organisation can put in place in order to transform their conflict into cooperation.

As we all know, prevention is always better than a cure and we encourage developing preventative strategies rather than reactive ones, so that organizations can divert resources away from firefighting and focus their time and energy on more important business goals.

Our main message is that, while conflict is a fact of life, it need not be a way of life. Conflict is inevitable in the context of diversity.  We all have our own goals, values, approaches, and personalities which can often be completely at odds with our colleague’s values, approaches, personalities or even perceptions of ‘the facts’.  It is these differences that inevitably lead to conflict. Subsequently we need to know how to deal with conflict and use it constructively.

Conflict tends to follow a downward spiral through five stages:

Stage 1 Accusations and Threats

Stage 2 Expansion

Stage 3 Generalisation to the entire relationship

Stage 4 Plan and plot

Stage 5 Spread

During the downward spiral of conflict, psychological changes happen. We start to use selective perception—we see only the `bad’ in the other person and are blind to the ‘good’.  We generate a self-fulfilling prophecy; we are usually not treating the other person very well (e.g. we might be approaching […]

The original ‘Women As Leaders’: The Suffragettes

This Sunday (the 17th of January) has been declared ‘Suffragette Sunday’ by our Australian cinemas, in celebration of the movie Suffragettes being released late last year.  Selected cinemas across Australia have joined forces with the UN Women National Committee Australia, and have agreed to donate $1 to the UN Women National Committee Australia for every ticket purchased to the first session of the day at the participating cinemas.

The funds raised will contribute to UN Women’s projects in the Pacific that keep women and girls safe from violence, provide education and training to women and girls, combat illiteracy, ensure a fair go for all, offer decent jobs with opportunities to develop as small -business owners and entrepreneurs and promote women in leadership.

While society have made monumental gains in regards to women’s rights since the Suffragette era, there are still areas in which the balance between men and women is not equal, particularly within the workforce.

At the end of November last year, Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency  (WGEA) released it’s key findings from the 2014-2015 period and while statistics have shown an improvement since previous years, there is still a lack of representation of women within positions of management.

According to WGEA, 51.2% of Australian employees are male and 48.8% of employees are female. Despite this the top levels of management remain heavily male-dominated, with just 15.4% of CEO positions and 27.4% of key management personnel (KMP) positions held by women.

Meanwhile a quarter (25.1%) of organisations have no female KMPs and one in five (19.4%) organisations have no ‘other executives/general managers’ who are women.

In contrast 4.2% of organisations have no male KMPs and 3.9% of organisations have no male ‘other executives/general managers’.

What is also interesting is that […]

Navigating through the complexities of gender equality

This week the media has had a field day over issues relating to gender equality. Firstly there was the now infamous sports interview of cricketer Chris Gayle who made suggestive remarks to a female journalist. Then it was reported that federal minister Jamie Briggs was forced to step down from his role as Minister for Cities after it was revealed he had acted inappropriately with a female colleague during a business trip to Hong Kong.

Both incidents have sparked mass debate, particularly on the issues of sexual harassment within the workplace and the complexities and ‘grey’ areas surrounding gender equality.

As soon as the footage of Chris Gayle was released, the public were quick to show their disapproval. Many deemed Gayle’s comments to be inappropriate and that they not only made the Channel Ten News reporter uncomfortable but made it difficult for her to do her job.

Both Channel Ten and Cricket Australia also made a point of publicly denouncing Gayle’s behaviour and he has since been fined $10,000 and made a public apology.

Adding to the fire was the announcement this week that Federal MP Jamie Briggs would be stepping down from his role as Minister for Cities after it was made public he acted inappropriately with a female public servant in a bar in Hong Kong, while on a business trip.

In both instances Australia has drawn a firm line in the sand about what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace, demonstrating the repercussions faced when acting inappropriately with colleagues within a working environment.

However some have argued that while incidents like the Gayle or Briggs debacle can happen, the real risk we run as a society is letting these incidents deter us from offering both sexes […]