Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation

HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time!

HEN arrives at the full moon - 
because light transforms darkness.   

Full Moon: December 6, 2014 - Year 12, Issue 12
Table of Contents:

1. HEALTH - Feeling Valued at Work

I am working with one of the best teams in the world! This is a team that actually invests time in its own well-being. They meet regularly to share ideas and coordinate, which a lot of teams do. However, they also meet to be strategic and tactical in their bigger picture goals. And they make time to meet off-site quarterly (or close to quarterly) where they discuss strategy and areas of professional and interpersonal development.  
Most recently, they turned their attention to appreciation at work. They are determined to raise the bar for how people feel at work - valued and like they matter. Isn’t this a team you’d want to be part of?
One of the resources I found for them is a book and website called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (by the authors of The 5 Love Languages). The key concept is that not everyone experiences recognition, acknowledgement or support in the same way. Having been a manager of volunteers, this is something I, and any volunteer manager, can tell you. Volunteer managers are in the business of keeping people engaged and appreciated, since they don’t have the “golden handcuffs” of a paycheque forcing them to stay. Volunteers can walk at any time, so recognizing them appropriately is all the more important.
We all know the stories of people who are motivated by the awards and certificates, while others feel good with a quiet word of appreciation or personal note. The 5 Languages of Appreciation broadens the options. 
Why invest the time and energy into this subject? One reason, according to their website, is that 70% of employees don’t feel recognized at work. Perhaps they are, but can’t hear it because it’s not delivered in their preferred “language.” Another reason, for those of you who subscribe to the “the person is lucky to have a job” philosophy, Gallup created a white paper on the direct correlation between employee engagement and financial output. They even created an equation for it that is the basis for their “Gallup Q 12: approach. It goes like this":

Per-person productivity =
Talent x (Relationship + Right Expectation + Recognition/Reward)

Here are 3 simple strategies to help you make more appreciation at work happen:
  1. Familiarize yourself with the five languages of appreciation – available here.
  2. While there, do the quiz on their landing page called “How Toxic is Your Workplace.” It’s really worth taking the 5 minutes to do as it hits on some of the key issues that encourage high-functioning workplaces and teams or tears them down.  
  3. Gallup suggests you give each employee a sheet to fill out and ask them what are the ways they like to be recognized (public, private, peers, managers, CEO) and 5 ways they like to be rewarded. Presumably there would be a conversation to go along with the inventory, to talk about how that could be operationalized at work to help support high-achievement and reaching potential.
If you’d like to talk about how to bring more appreciation to your workplace or team, or about the results of the How Toxic is Your Workplace Quiz, let’s do it! I’d love to support you in bringing more appreciation to work.
"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."
 … Dalai Lama

2. ENVIRONMENT - Small-Scale Farming - Take Action

A new United Nations report has assessed that it’s organic and small-scale farming which is the answer for “feeding the world,” not GMOs and monocultures.
They suggest major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems. With the California droughts in full swing we are feeling, and will continue to feel, the effects of depending on single sources for our food. Check out an article on it here.
If this matters to you, use that energy to take some small action. One I will take is to send this article to a local city councilor or mayor, asking what they are doing to help shift our local food systems to small-scale organic farming.
If you need a little inspiration to take action, check out this appreciation of Martin Litton. Litton was one of the original environmental activists, who died recently at the ripe old age of 97. He’s one of the people responsible for stopping damming in the Grand Canyon, through the boldness of who he was and the actions, in concert with others, that he took. Thank you Mr. Litton. Thank you. Taking action matters!
“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”
… Rudyard Kipling

3. NEGOTIATION - Leaders as Conflict Specialists

"Successful leaders manage conflict; they don’t shy away from it or suppress it but see it as an engine of creativity and innovation …. The challenge for leaders is to develop structures and processes in which such conflicts can be orchestrated productively."
… Ronald Heifetz & Marty Linsky
Because I’m presently going to school for my Masters in Dispute Resolution, I have the wonderful opportunity to dive into some specific research. Nothing like deadlines and expectations to make us move things up from a “nice to do” to a "have to do."
One of the outcomes of this academic journey is a paper I wrote on the connections between leaders, organizations and conflict. I reviewed some of the research literature and summarized my findings below. 
There were three key themes spoken about in the research. The first theme speaks to the context in which leaders find themselves when in conflict: their organization and its culture. The second theme examines what impact a leader’s perspective on, and capacity with, conflict has on followers and the organization. The third theme discusses the role of leaders in relation to constructive conflict engagement. Here is a short summary of the key findings. If you’d prefer the full paper – you can find it here.
The first theme showed a distinct lack of awareness of the value of conflict management systems and strategies within organizations. This lack of awareness comes in spite of the fact leaders spend anywhere from 21 – 50% of their time dealing with conflict. Relatedly, the majority of organizations studied had “cultures of avoidance.” A number of leaders admitted they ignored certain interpersonal conflicts in their organizations expecting they would work themselves out or “just go away.” More than half surveyed admitted they avoided dealing with a conflict issues directly and instead complained to others about it.
The essential characteristic required for constructive conflict from an organizational culture perspective, is to have culture that expects people to engage with conflict, to do so constructively, and to do so early.
The second theme found in the literature review was the impact leaders had on conflict, followers and the organization. Researchers found a strong correlation between effective leadership and constructive engagement in conflict. The way leaders are seen handling conflict sends a strong message to those around them about their ability to engage conflict constructively. In one study, more than half of the cases of disgruntled employees could have been averted if the supervisors had actually engaged, in a skillful way, with those who had come forward with their issues at the outset. Most noteworthy: performance problems are more attributable to strained relationships than to a deficit in skills or motivation.
Despite strong correlations between a leader and his or her impact on followers and the organization, the ability to manage conflict is notably absent from many descriptions of leadership qualities. The recommendation is that conflict competence must become a key expectation for effective leadership since a leader’s capacity to engage conflict constructively has a crucial and direct impact on organizational success.
The third theme concerns the role of leaders in the face of conflict. The role is shifting from that of charismatic leader (who has all the answers) to that of coach – a person who works with employees to help them discover their own answers. Some studies are calling for leaders to move beyond being conflict competent, or acting as coaches, but becoming conflict specialists. One researcher, in interviewing numerous leaders who transformed conflict successfully, found the most effective leaders were those who used the same kinds of skills and mindsets as mediators: working for the interests of all, seeing the whole system and looking at differences as opportunities. Because of the complexity, diversity and changing values of the work world today, the research suggests leaders can no longer be dictators or even “ordinary” managers, but must lead like mediators, putting dispute resolution and its skills and mindset at the center effective leadership.
The third theme puts the responsibility for engaging conflict constructively on the shoulders of leaders and points to a growing need for leaders to be conflict specialists. 

“If you are going to be viewed as a leader in your organization and survive and thrive at work into the next century, you must develop your own conflict approach and develop a reputation for leadership in conflict management and consensus building.”
… Lynne Eisaguirre


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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training

  • Are you avoiding any conversations you know you should have?
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Or check out "Stay Cool Through Hot Conversations", another e-course co-created by Judy Zehr and myself.


Marla Sloan and Clare Sprowell have crafted a beautiful looking and elegantly working process to help people engage conflict kinaesthetically! This “Mediator in a Box" is a tool people can use to practice having those difficult conversations. It was originally designed to help two people resolve their own conflicts together and has been tested to do just that.

If you are curious about what they are offering, you can check out Mediator in a Box

I’d love to hear if you buy it and what you think!

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”           
… Charles Dickens

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