Book Review DIY Mediation – The Conflict Resolution Toolkit Book by Marc Reid – Review by Matthew Hill

Kill the monster whilst it is small

Marc Reid has produced something of substantial value to the wider business (and intercultural) community.

Context

The old world of HR seemed to recoil from conflict and wished to avoid all drama, only to be called back to the matter when things had escalated to a level requiring on the record, expensive and time consuming action – mainly tribunals and litigation.

Mediation and pre mediation intervention aims to kill the monster whilst it is small, keep the proceedings off the record, and, allow marginal characters to gain a voice and have their say when they are feeling aggressed, disrespected or bullied.

Easy to read and easy to apply

The book has a gentle gradient, starting with what is conflict, the stages of escalation, observed behaviours and their consequences, and, peaking with the AGREE model – a process that can be used to grab hold of the issues in an intelligent way, and, move the parties towards resolution quickly, and with minimal cost, time and residue left at the end.

Models

Marc has made a sometimes complex subject easy to follow and easy to apply. He breaks down larger topics with handy acronyms and provides completely pragmatic advise on those hard to reach areas such as remaining free of judgment and partiality. My two favourites were the 3FsFacts, Feeling and Future (when exploring the circumstances of a conflict) and the HEAR method for assertive communication – Happening – establishing events on a timeline, Effect – describing impact, Acknowledge – outlining the scenario from your point of view, and, Request – stating what you, as a mediator, would like to happen next.

Written in plain English and aimed at the average corporate HR professional, this tome will be of use to anyone in business or in a broader organisation who wishes to grasp the nettle of conflict, grow their own competence and awareness in holding challenging conversations, and, who is passionate about ethical early interventions to prevent exhausting escalations in the workplace.

No book is perfect and Marc has walked into the Mehrabian trap – taking this model as an example of how little language conveys in communication. (Mehrabian himself went to great lengths to correct this misapprehension.)

Conclusion

The book provides an accessible and vital tool for HR professionals and a wider audience who wish to move from avoidance to a more collaborative and inclusive approach to handling conflict, and, who wish to pick up and use a no nonsense approach to get the job of conflict reversal in hand in their organisation.

About the reviewer – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and coach working to build collaboration in international teams for the SME and Corporate sector.

Purchase

To buy the book go to Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/DIY-Mediation-Conflict-Resolution-Toolkit/dp/1785893114/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540458765&sr=8-1&keywords=diy+mediation+reid

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Research into how language and culture affect how multinational teams work –

Request for input by PhD Candidate Luisa Weinzierl

Luisa Weinzierl

I am researching for my doctorate at the Department of Management and Social Sciences, St. Mary’s University, London. I want to interview people who regularly work in multinational teams, where the language of discussion is not the mother tongue of several participants.

Here are some examples of what people in this situation say:

“People dismiss what I say at meetings because my spoken English is so slow and my accent is not very good. I often feel ignored so I give up – I stop going to meetings and just speak with my native Japanese colleagues. (Non-native English speaker at an American company)”

“Sometimes the English native speakers just ignore us. They forget that we are trying to speak their language. They become impatient with us when we are searching for words or go back to our native language – just to say what we need to say. Last week, our manager just left the meeting and told us to get a translator!” (Native Urdu speaker at an English company)

See Luisa’s YouTube Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl42meuJcEc&feature=youtu.be

With advances in technology and the increasing pace of globalization, multinationals rely increasingly the collaboration of teams around the world. These teams may operate virtually, across time zones and may be required to use a common language. But how good is the communication?

Research has uncovered serious negative emotions fueled by language barriers. Depending on language competence, team members can feel insecure and embarrassed when communicating with colleagues. A feeling of exclusion and even communication avoidance may lead to disruption in the team and loss of trust between native and non-native speakers. Usually, bridging the language gap falls to the team leader.

If you are a leader of one or more such teams, or a member of one or more teams where the meeting language is not your native language, or where the meeting language is your native language but there are several non-native speakers of your language, please take part in my study.

If you take part in this study, you will be interviewed for about half an hour, face to face or by Skype or a similar channel. If you take part in my study, you will receive a copy of my research report. To take part in this study, please contact me on:

Mobile: +44 7887 984874

Email: 176092@live.stmarys.ac.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Luisa Weinzierl

Reverse culture shock – the dirty little secret of repatriation by Felicia Schwartz

Where’s my driver?

The trouble with repatriation is that few expect “coming home“ to be so difficult. Of course the notion of “coming home” in itself is largely ambiguous because the place one knew before has changed during one’s expatriation as have we as people. Roaming around old stomping grounds chasing shadows is hence often more alienating an experience than confronting a new culture we consciously know will be a challenge.

Crazy Suitcase Plane

Coming home…

It does not help that the environment and companies largely ignore the returning expat’s plight. There is little in the way of readjustment programs or any consideration that the repatriate may need help fitting back into the very place they came from. Complaining about having lost the maid and driver and taking a salary cut also tends to attract “surprisingly” little sympathy.

What a blunder!

Why did I ever come back?

This stands in stark contrast to the tightknit expat communities, training programs and VIP treatment that welcome the expat upon arrival in a host country at the start of their mission.

As a result, many repatriates quickly become disgruntled and experience difficulty both in their private and professional lives. BBC capital found that in 2013, about 16% of workers left their employers within two years of a global assignment ending, while relocation experts such as Brookfield GRS and GMAC quote twice that number*. In any case, given the considerable investment in expats, any attrition would seem like a big loss in terms of ROI.

It would make sense that companies step up their efforts to support repatriates, but also give more thought to making use of the repatriate’s skills and knowledge. Of course, repatriates can also plan their own readjustment process more thoroughly:

  • Where possible, expert relocation consultants such as Brookfield GRS suggest repatriates should prepare for repatriation a good 6-9 months prior to their return. This includes planning and discussing new positions at work, living and family arrangements including schools and so on.
  • Expect the repatriation process, similar to expatriation, to extend over several stages of adjustment; the honeymoon period: “its so nice to be back in a place where the air is clean and shops are quaint, it feels like a holiday!“ to culture shock “Why are those people at work so parochial and where can I find a decent Chinese restaurant in this city?!“ to eventual adjustment “need to get a mortgage, need to sort out pension, need to plan a vacation to the Isle of Wight“ …
  • Similar to expatriation, it is crucial to adjust one’s behavior and devise a strategy for a smoother transition;
  • Refrain from starting every second sentence with “Well, in China/ Bahrain/ Rio …” while at the same time ensuring that one’s international expertise is well known and recorded across the organization.
  • Equally, avoid overloading friends and colleagues with stories of wonder and adventure in rural Guangzhou – only offer information when asked … as hard as the prospect might seem!
  • Develop and show interest in some aspect of local life; sports, music politics …and get involved in the local community. Volunteering is one meaningful way to do so.
  • Proactively ask for training if you feel any specific topics/ technologies/ skills have bypassed you while you were abroad. A mentor might also be useful.

From a psychological point of view it is primordial to achieve closure on the expatriation period and stop pining for the past or giving in to the urge of constantly comparing. Without such closure it will be difficult to successfully move onward in a familiar yet new environment which requires a great investment of positive energy!

Author Profile– **Felicia Schwartz has spent 13 years in China and is the founder of China Insight www.hitangandccc.com/china-insight a training and consultancy company helping businesses and executives adapt to cultural change and markets across China and Europe.

Felicia Schwartz

* Data Sources – Dr Katharina Lefringhausen : 23% (GMAC, 2013) to 38% (Brookfield, 2010) of repatriate employees resign from their company within the first year upon return and up to 50% leave after 2 (Brookfield, 2010) to 3 years (GMAC, 2013) upon return.

 

Coaching Chinese Expats in Paris by trainer and coach Denis Niedringhaus

“How well do the French speak English?”

I recently heard an intercultural trainer complain that Chinese business people often decline repatriation training because they just don’t see the need for it. I wonder if these expats abroad feel sufficiently disconnected from their extended communities in the first place to actually experience what Westerners used to call “culture shock”. In fact, this term does not even translate correctly or effectively into Chinese.

As enamoured as most Chinese people are with French culture, few actually bother to try and learn about it, even if they know they will be sent to France for a couple of years.

Paris  l'heure bleueOne of the first questions, a new client Mike Zhang asked me over the phone was “How well do the French speak English?”   A difficult question because there are so many variables.

Parisians obviously do better than most French people, but then the liklihood of finding an English-speaking shopkeeper depends on how many tourists or expats live or work nearby.   Mike Zhang’s second question also had no easy answer: “So what’s the Chinese community like over there?” The short answer? Diverse. In fact, Paris has 3 Chinatown’s with very distinct communities.   I would never recommend, for example, that a Chinese expat try to find a flat near Belleville (in the 20th district) because the majority of Chinese people living there come from Wenzhou province and speak in a dialect incomprehensible to a businesswoman from Beijing.

Additionally, the terrorist attacks of November 13th have made all expats give more thought to their personal safety (always a major priority with the Chinese). Just how long the city will suffer from the shockwaves of that dreadful day remains to be seen.

To finish, as a coach I have the pleasure of dealing with more and more Chinese people who are increasingly autonomous, bilingual and sincere in their efforts to adapt to both the Parisian work environment and the unique local lifestyle.

Denis Niedringhaus   Author profile Denis Niedringhaus is a trilingual (English/French/Mandarin Chinese) intercultural trainer and expatriation coach based in Paris. With over 4 years experience in the Far East, he takes a special interest in Chinese culture and its continuing influence in the corporate world.

Make your Training STICK!

15 Suggestions to aid retention in the corporate classroom

I teach a number of short courses around Europe for a large organisation and like to ask my delegates which other courses they have attended and what they learnt in them. More often than not, not only do the executives not remember much or any content – they fail to recall the main course subject, especially if they took it is more than 6 months ago! Not very encouraging at the start of a fresh half-day programme.

Here are a number of insights that will help you, as trainer / coach, to assist your participants / coachees in remembering more of your words of wisdom. There may be a test later…

Young teacher working in school classroom

“Pay attention class!”

  1. Pay it forward – If the participants are asked to learn and interact in the classroom knowing that they will be asked to teach someone the key models, theories and findings, they will learn in a different way and invest in the course with a higher level of attention. When you learn to teach you learn more deeply. And when you teach you learn a second time.
  1. Learning buddies – When I train in a company building I ask, “Do you guys know each other?” If the answer is yes, I pair up the participants and give them a challenge to undertake after the training has finished. “When you meet again in the canteen of the corridor, help your learning by asking the question – what was the most important point you have taken from the training?”

When we strive to recall we recall. When we know we must recall we, again, process more deeply.

  1. Follow-up call – Add a follow-up telephone conference call one or two weeks after the face-to-face training has happened. Ask 3 simple questions in a call that lasts between 15 and 40 minutes. The questions are; A, What do you remember?, B, What have you tried from the course and it is working well? And, C, What have you tried from the course and its NOT working well? This gives the trainer a chance to find out if the messages have landed and landed correctly.
  1. If you measure before, you can measure after – You can only see improvement if you know where you started. Simple ways include either a pre-training intake form or administering a knowledge-based quiz at the beginning of the training. If an identical or similar quiz is administered again at the end, this can create a reasonable measure of the increase in learning that has occurred.
  1. Write your own summary – There are various versions of this. One I currently use quite a lot is to ask the students to collate an Excellence Charter of desirable behaviours and undesirable behaviours. I then asked them to present this back to me in a novel way. A recent triumph was a tech group who hijacked my computer and installed some software that animated the Star Wars credits and combined this with some dramatic content to prove their understanding of the material. I was impressed and we will all remember what was said.
  1. I do declare – Writing strong personal actions on post it notes and shouting them out to other people both aids memory and reinforces commitment to take the promised action. The participants are then asked to fold up the paper and put it next to money in their purse or wallet. When they are out in a bar or shop and move to pay for something they will be reminded of the training.
  1. Interrogation – By bombarding the participants with W questions, the trainer can create a modestly tense training environment where the students actively attempts to avoid stress by preparing the answers in their heads in case they are called upon. There is a limit to this method. It is not advisable to annoy a class to the point where they rebel!
  1. Mind map – It still surprises me that in 2018 many executives in Europe have not heard of this diagrammatic learning method. With a quick lesson in how to do them, it is fun to see how quickly bright executives pick up the technique and use it to reformulate their notes. This can be very effective especially when icons and colours are employed to create more complex schema.
  1. WIIFM? – The teacher and coach may boost the percentage of retention by tailoring the material to the known and specific needs and wants of the assembled learners. By honing the material and using more appropriate language and stories, the teacher’s efforts will hit the mark more frequently.
  1. Practice practice practice – With soft skills courses especially, repetition and dynamic exercises of increasing complexity can have an extraordinary beneficial effect. This is why it is good, if you’re proposing training and have some control, to ask for a second day. On the first day you apply the polish. And on the second day you bring out the shine.
  1. Sell the benefits – Related to 9. If you emphasise the positive outcomes for the individuals in the room, they are more likely to volunteer more of their attention. One fact I like to share is that, with specific courses, the diligent application of the key learning points and plenty of practice, a single delegate will experience an extra lifetime income boost of €5000,000. It is true. This fact has a powerful effect on class attitude.
  1. Review review reviewIf the student assigns space to review the key schematics and theories after one day, one week and one month, it is amazing how much more they retain permanently. Most people are not aware of learning decay and need to have the review time specifically scheduled and monitored by the teacher.
  1. Mnemonics and metaphors – The brain seems better able to remember when aided by dramatic tricks. At school we remembered the colour order of a rainbow by “Rowntrees of York give best individual value.” Another way is to create similes, metaphors and stories. If you can connect things to be remembered with brilliant and wild coloured associated images in motion and make them into a funny film with a jokey sound track, the facts themselves will be hard to forget.
  1. Question Time – A wonderful way of retaining learnt material is to question it in more detail after the training has finished. Searching for the topic on the TED website may throw up a keynote speaker who gives you a different perspective in just 17 minutes. This can reframe the your perspective and help you to keep more of the content in mind.
  1. Doublespeak – 15. may be a stretch too far, but I have tried it and it works. Peter Thomson in one of his three-day training sessions asked all participants to repeat every word he said silently in their head simultaneously. It feels very strange for a couple of minutes and then it seems fairly normal. Obviously your brain processes the 2 streams of words in a special way that seems to aid memory.

FUN – TEST TIME. Turn away from the screen, pick up a pen and paper and write down as many of the 15 ideas as you can remember!

Good luck.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a class room trainer in the areas of culture, conflict, communication and leadership and has worked with 1000’s of executives having delivered live classroom training in more than 30 countries. Do feel free to contact him at matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com

 

Culture, not just quotas, for better boardroom diversity An Opinion Piece by CEDR’s Kathryn Bradley

CEDR's Kathryn Bradley

CEDR’s Kathryn Bradley

According to the latest report published by the government this week, the gender ratio of FTSE 100 boards has reached a milestone, with 25% of board members now being women, an achievement credited to  the voluntary efforts made by such organisations to actively recruit board members to balance the gender gap. Whilst this number represents a significant increase over the last few years (from 12.5% in 2011), we shouldn’t be rushing to extol the virtues of gender quotas, tick the diversity box as a fait accompli and sit down to a celebratory cup of tea just yet.

Whilst Lord Davies’ report calls for an extension of these voluntary quotas, playing the numbers game can only hope to answer part of the problem. There seem to be two big issues that it is currently failing to address:

  1. The Cult of Board Culture– The latest US Republican debate provided a perfect example of what can happen when a homogenous (on the face of it at least) group of powerful men (and one woman) come together to argue their opinion and establish their superiority as potential future leaders of the free world. The irony of it was that the more they tried to compete for the airtime to demonstrate their leadership prowess, the more I feared that any of them would ever find themselves in the ultimate position of power. One of the most common complaints we hear from women in senior and executive leadership roles is not so much the homogeneity of gender but the absolute homogeneity of leadership, negotiating  and conflict styles that permeate the environment within the walls of the boardroom and govern the unspoken code of conduct at that most exclusive of tables. The all-powerful nature of such a culture means that many feel the need to ‘assimilate to survive’. This competitive, fist banging, who-can-shout-louder way of operating can mean some women find it very challenging to find an authentic way to integrate without losing themselves or their voice and we often hear of women who upon achieving the most senior positions come under fire for becoming too ‘Alpha’. I’ve even heard it said that this uncomfortable paradox is putting some women off aspiring to Board-level positions – a sad fact which no amount of quotas can fix! Many claim that more women on the board will be the automatic panacea to transform this culture into something much more inclusive and effective… I’m not so confident.
  2. Culture of Difference– It seems rightly uncontested that organisational diversity has a direct, transformative impact on the effectiveness and success of teams and leaders by encouraging and facilitating difference and embracing the creative conflict that this difference can generate resulting in the generation new ideas and the improvement of established ways of working. This is more than just a nice to have. Without this diversity we expose ourselves to homogenised ‘group think’ and significantly a higher risk of corporate scandal and even crime due to an inability of an organisation to effectively criticise, hold itself accountable or even see the issues as they arise. I wonder if the latest Volkswagen emissions scandal would have been allowed to happen if this culture of difference had existed amongst its senior leaders? Whilst it might have helped, I’m not sure a gender quota of 25% women would have been quite enough alone to prevent a global organisation turning a blind eye to its own decisions and actions. Gender is a crucial area to consider, but its only one aspect of human difference; an easy visible line to draw and make tangible through measurements and quotas. If we genuinely want to see organisational diversity that reflects the diversity of British society then we need to look beyond the obvious to embrace all aspects of difference, something which quotas are unlikely to achieve.

In summary, quotas are proving to be an important tool on the road to achieving organisational diversity but they are not the magic bullet people might be looking for or even the token activity they might be hoping to hide behind. If we want real, positive diversity in our executive teams, we also need to empower those in leadership roles at every level to embrace and encourage a culture of constructively challenging the norms, actively listening to those singing a different tune rather than shouting to be the loudest, and to shed the unshakeable habit of seeing conflict as something to be feared and avoided at all costs.

These are my thoughts…I’d love to hear yours.

Kathryn Bradley is a Programme and Project Manager at CEDR – the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. CEDR is the UK’s largest provider of mediation training and services. www.cedr.com

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