Proactive Collaboration: An innovative approach to conflict resolution in the workplace!
Over the past few years, conflicts in schools and psychological harassment complaints have been increasingly brought to our attention. Any conflict could have a serious impact on the work climate in a school, as well as on the motivation and commitment to work and, subsequently, on the state of health of the teacher. From our experience, the legal process of dealing with psychological harassment complaints is often protracted, and takes its toll in many ways; it has not achieved any clear or positive results for the people involved or for the workplace in general. Employers have obligations to their employees and the work climate but the complexity of a conflict sometimes makes it easier to deny its existence rather than to deal with it. It is for this reason that QPAT has taken the initiative to approach, collaborate, and work jointly with representatives from the nine English school boards, as well as the Littoral School Board, on alternative ways to prevent and deal with conflicts in school.
A provincial committee on conflict resolution in the workplace, composed of representatives from QPAT, QESBA (DG’s and DHR’s) and AAESQ, has met four times since last year to develop and work on actions to be put in place so that all stakeholders are sensitized to the importance of a healthy work climate and to the risk factors, to learn practical tools and ways to deal with conflict resolution.
To that effect, two joint training sessions were held during this school year led by a knowledgeable and well-known guest speaker, MeThierry Bériault, who is a Chartered Fellow and Distinguished Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators. More than 60 representatives from all the school boards and unions attended both sessions and discussed issues and practical strategies related to conflict. The next step for the provincial committee in the coming years will be to support local actions to continue the work that has been started at the provincial level.
There is no magic formula! However, understanding the benefits of a positive work climate on the well-being of the personnel in our schools, centres and school boards, being more sensitive to inter-personal dynamics and better equipped to intervene, if necessary, makes it easier to prevent and deal with these complex situations.