Interest-Based Problem-Solving is at the heart of High Performance through Engagement (HPtE #13)

It is estimated that employees spend 42% of their time engaging in or attempting to resolve conflict and 20% of Managers time is consumed with conflict related issues.

Masters and Albright (2002), in The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace, point out that people thrive on conflict in most areas of their lives–football games, political debates, legal disputes–yet steer clear from workplace conflicts. But conflict is actually a healthy way to challenge the existing order and essential to change in a workplace.

The real problem is not conflict per se, but managing conflict.

Dana (2001), in Conflict Resolution: Mediation Tools for Everyday Work Life, argues  that workplaces are changing. As interpersonal rules of conduct become looser and time deadlines become tighter, conflict resolution is gaining importance as a strategic management issue.  

Organisations that recognise the necessity of strategically managing internal conflict will be one step ahead in increasingly competitive business environments.

Cloke and Goldsmith (2011), in Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job, reveal how the inevitable disputes and divisions in the workplace are actually opportunities for greater creativity, productivity, enhanced morale, and personal growth.

Clearly, confronting and managing organisational conflicts presents a major challenge to organisations that wish to successfully compete in today’s global economy.

In order to reduce the competition and conflict over allocation of time and money some form of decision making process capable of finding solutions that can meet the interests of Shareholders (Commercial Responsibility), Operations and CI (Consumer Value) and Workers (a safe, secure and satisfying Culture), is required.

Interest-Based Problem-Solving meets that need.

But, what is Interest-Based Problem Solving?

Interest-Based Problem-Solving is an outcome of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution, and was captured by Fisher, Ury and Patton (1981) in their book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.

Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. The four key principles of Interest-Based Problem-Solving are:

  1. Separate the people from the problem.
  2. Focus on interests, not positions.
  3. Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
  4. Insist that the result be based on some objective standard. 

By embedding these problem solving principles into the decision making processes within any organisation the conflict between the 3C’s is not only reduced but harnessed for greater creativity, productivity, enhanced morale, and personal growth.

This is a key to unlocking sustainable high performance in any organisation.

Air New Zealand and the “3C’s”

Finding the synergy between Consumer Value, Commercial Responsibility and Culture has been the key to Air New Zeland success …

“Our customer centricity, commercial focus, and highly engaged culture have made Air New Zealand the most revered company in our part of the world as reflected in our corporate reputation rankings on both sides of the Tasman.”

Mr Luxon says he will miss heading to work every day to lead the aviation equivalent of 12,500 All Blacks. 

“It has been an awesome journey and what we have achieved by working together with a common goal of supercharging New Zealand’s success economically, environmentally and socially has been nothing short of remarkable.

“I have absolutely loved the responsibility and experience of leading this company over the last seven years. It has been intellectually challenging, people centred and an absolute privilege to do this job. However, I do feel it is the right time for a new leader to take over and preserve and enhance the good things from our past, but also to put their own stamp on the organisation bringing their own personality and emphasis to the role as I did.”

He says the culture at Air New Zealand is unlike any other company and it has only strengthened as the airline introduced performance management and leadership development programmes, pioneered High Performance Engagement (HPE) with its union partners, chose to pay a Company Performance Bonus, improved its safety record and lifted its commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

“All of this has seen Air New Zealand regularly voted as the best place to work in the country. I will miss the friendship and support of all those with whom I have worked with and served.

Air New Zealand Media Release
https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/press-release-2019-air-new-zealand-chief-executive-officer-resigns

What to change to and how? (HPtE #12)

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get synergy between achieving financial outcomes, continuous improvement of value for consumers and a constructive culture?

An HPtE Strategy® assists people to seek out improvement opportunities, strengthen peoples ability to solve problems when a conflict occurs, all the while helping to build positive relationships between people. This saves time and money.

It is a path to sustainable high performance.

But, an HPtE Strategy® is a big commitment.

Many organisations have already recognised the need to find a synergy between the 3C’s and have developed their strategy around it.  This is certainly a great step in the right direction and those who have invested in it have reaped the rewards.  While the benefits are big, sustaining the effort and focus takes a great deal of effort.  The pressure to compete for time and money erodes the impact of the effort put in and the transformation will slow or stagnate.  Sometimes it will regress.

If you have ever seen an organisation whose leadership changes focus to just one or two of the C’s you will have witnessed the stagnation or regression.

An HPtE Strategy® takes engagement and culture to a new level that is less influenced by a change in any one leader.

This is achieved through a mix of focus, structural, process, system and leadership style changes.

It would not be judicial to enter into such an approach without first testing it within your organisation.  Before committing to an HPtE Strategy® a Proof of Concept Project is recommended.

But, before you even get to a proof of concept, organisational leadership must answer four important questions:

  1. Why Change? Is sustainable high performance really the goal or do we have a more short term focus?
  2. What to change? We have already described the endless cycle that erodes Commercial Responsibility, Consumer Value and Culture.
  3. What to change to? We have already described the reverse of the cycle.
  4. How to change? That is the focus of the #HPtE series from here on in.

As a starting point, an HPtE Strategy® is an injection into the business system to address the competition and conflict caused by a localised focus on one of the necessary conditions (The 3C’s). It addresses the assumption that The 3C’s are mutually exclusive of each other.

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