Guidelines for conflict management

Introduction

In any working environment, disagreements may arise between employees about academic and administrative issues, as well as about the exercise of the employer's management prerogative. Such disagreements are also part of the working environment at UiB, and will not normally in themselves imply that there is a conflict situation.

In a good working environment, there should be a low threshold for presenting unbiased and constructive criticism. Employees at UiB should be able to express themselves about problematic and conflicting circumstances in the organization and be confident that these are followed up and managed in a good way.

Definition

A conflict is a situation where two people, one person and one group or two groups feel that they are being prevented or frustrated by the other.[1]

Prevention

It is expected that all UiB employees by their conduct contribute to preventing conflicts from occurring in their own working environment. This is done, among other things, by participating in the organised safety and environmental work in the organization and actively contributing to the implementation of the measures that are initiated to create a good and safe working environment.

Scope

UiB has the overall responsibility for a fully satisfactory working environment, including conflict management.

The guideline is intended as an aid for the manager to deal with conflicts between two or more employees. This includes conflicts between colleagues, between employees and managers and between managers.

In the event of conflicts between employees and others, reference is made to the students' Si fra (Speak Out) system and guidelines for dealing with violence and threats.

An employee who becomes aware of a conflict he himself is not involved in, or abusive behaviour in general, may choose to blow the whistle on this according to UiB’s guidelines for notification (whistle blowing)

Conflicts caused by what one or more employees believe to be misconduct in research are handled according to special rules.

Notify of conflict situations

Employees who experience being a party to a conflict that they themselves are unable to handle must notify their immediate supervisor with personnel responsibilities or a senior manager.

Notification can also be given via a safety representative or an employee representative. When the safety representative has notified the employer, the safety representative shall hand over the specific handling of the case to the employer. Both manager and employee can contact the Occupational Health Service (BHT). The employer shall also ensure that the occupational health service assists if necessary. BHT has a duty of confidentiality, as well as a free and independent role in working environment cases.

Handling

When a manager becomes aware of a conflict, he/she shall immediately seek to obtain an overview of the case and ensure a proper administrative procedure. The administrative procedure shall be documented in writing.

As far as possible, the manager must check that he/she is not a party to the conflict. In such a case, the case should be dealt with at the senior management level.

The manager may seek advice and assistance on handling the conflict from the HR department and/or the Occupational Health Service.

Investigation

It will often be natural to initiate the investigation by individual interviews with the involved parties and others who may be able to shed light on the case.

Some advice regarding the interviews:

  • Inform the involved parties of their right to include an employee representative/adviser in the invitation to a meeting. At the same time, inform who the employer has requested to attend the meeting
  • Start by clarifying the purpose and premises of the interview
  • Be prepared for the fact that such interviews may be emotionally distressing for the employee
  • Do not be biased. Be concerned with listening to your employees. Avoid being influenced by the first information you receive. Different versions can be equally correct/wrong
  • Make a memo from the interviews. To avoid any misunderstandings, the employee should be allowed to review and, if necessary, revise the memos from their interviews
  • Trust and confidentiality are particularly important in such contexts. When disseminating information received, one should avoid referring to who has said what, but focus on what was communicated

After the interviews, a summary of the case must be prepared and it must be considered whether further information retrieval is needed in order to investigate the case.

Conclusion

When the manager believes the case has been enlightened as well as possible, a conclusion should be reached as to how the case should be handled further or what measures are necessary to ensure a fully satisfactory working environment. The involved parties should be informed of the conclusion.

Follow-up

The further handling of the conflict does not always involve a duty of activity for the employer in relation to restoring a satisfactory working environment. In some cases, it is sufficient with a clarification to the person(s) involved that they must abide by the employer's instructions even if they disagree with them. In other cases, arbitration may be most appropriate, whereas in some cases it must be conveyed to the employee(s) that the situation is of such a character that must be accepted in a working relationship.

However, cases that are categorised as 'improper conduct' are not subject to arbitration or as anything that an employee must accept within the employment relationship. In such cases, there should always be a reaction towards the person(s) who is responsible for the improper conduct.

If the manager concludes that it is necessary to take measures to ensure a fully satisfactory working environment, the parties involved shall be given an account of what measures will be implemented and be informed of the progress plan for when this is planned to be Implemented.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to use external conflict advice from a consulting firm or similar.

The safety delegate shall be informed of the handling of conflict cases that they have reported.

If the manager's conclusion implies that one or more employees should be subject to formal sanctions, this shall be done in accordance with applicable rules. Before implementing such a process, the HR Division should be consulted.

In order to prevent the conflict situation from arising again, the manager must continue to follow up the conflict case. This must be done even if the conflict case has apparently resolved itself in a straightforward way.

Lack of handling

Failure to deal with conflicts may be notified as censurable conditions according to UiB’s guidelines for notification (whistle blowing)

[1] Evert van de Vliert (1998)

Show revision history
Date Comment Entered by
Thursday 14 May 2020 2:31:51 pm Oversettelse til engelsk Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Thursday 14 May 2020 2:29:03 pm Oversettelse til engelsk Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Tuesday 04 September 2018 2:20:38 pm Ny retningslinje for konflikthåndtering Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Wednesday 02 February 2011 12:53:21 pm Formatert Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Wednesday 02 February 2011 12:52:29 pm Formatert Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 07 June 2010 10:47:08 am Formatert Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 07 June 2010 10:42:00 am Formatert Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 07 June 2010 10:41:00 am Formatert Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Tuesday 09 March 2010 3:21:40 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
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