A Workplace Restoration is an important step

A Workplace Restoration can help improve employee engagement and productivity following a significant negative workplace event, such as a harassment investigation.

Lately Michelle and I have been thinking about Workplace Restorations. If you live in Calgary, the first thing that may leap in your mind with the word restoration could be flood damage. I am sure there are many households in Southern Alberta watching the waterways and the precipitation forecasts this spring. The word restoration implies that things can be put back the way they were found. If you lost a basement of goods last summer, I am sure you have a visceral knowledge that you can’t put things back the way they were, even once the mud has been cleared.

Following a significant negative event in a workplace it becomes crucial in the workplace to redefine a plan for the future which integrates and restores. Like the damage following a flood, an event in the workplace can leave emotional scars. People need not only acknowledgement for past wrongs and experiences, they also benefit from being part of redefining a plan for the future. Too often following a harassment investigation, for example, remedies that address collateral damage of bystanders is missed.

A Workplace Restoration following a harassment investigation is a critical step in returning to a productive workplace.

A Workplace Restoration can be a significant help addressing collateral damage after a harassment investigation.

A Workplace Restoration is a process which provides a safe comfortable environment for all to express and explore their beliefs, concerns and hopes for a positive workplace future. Through a process with an impartial 3rd-party facilitator, they define their criteria for a positive working environment, and a detailed plan with specific actionable items. A Workplace Restoration can involve individual coaching in addition to large and small group facilitation. Training may be an important desired outcome from a restoration, and will be most effective if staff contribute to the training plan in the restoration process.

To read more about what you can do as a manager towards restoring the workplace, visit these resources from the Government of Canada.

Diversity & Inclusion: tear down the myths and discover your value proposition

I learned yesterday that I have been perpetuating some myths when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and I have a hunch you have too.  On Monday, I was lucky to participate in the first Calgary Diversity and Inclusion Un-Conference, hosted by the CIDI (Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion).  And I learned a few things.

Apple and pear diversity... (la diversité des pommes et des poires)

For example, why do you think we not getting any traction in Canada with women in senior executive roles?  It isn’t, as I have naively thought, because women are making lifestyle choices.   Barbara Annis has done the research.  She was the plenary speaker on Monday morning, and you can learn more about her compelling research in her new book, Gender Intelligence.

And how do you influence change in your organization when you have limited apparent influence and authority? Sergeant Bill Dodd, from the Calgary Police Service shared his insights.  He has been successful strategically bringing in other perspectives through community boards.  I learned from him that you need deliberate, strategic feedback loops from your community.  And I also learned from Sergeant Dodd that one person can really  make a difference, and come away with some great stories too.

I have also been challenged by Zakeana Reid to challenge my unconscious and my own implicit biases. You can do the same at Project Implicit.

Were you at the CIDI Un-Conference? What did you learn? I would love to hear from you.

Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. It starts with the conversation.

Did you know that up to 78% of Short Term Disability claims are related to mental health concerns? Working in the conflict business, I am becoming increasingly aware of the impact of mental health issues in the workplace.  So last fall, I signed up for Mental Health Works, a 2 day program put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association (Calgary region) targeted at managers and HR Professionals dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.

I walked away impressed with their simple yet effective strategy for managers to enter into the accommodation or performance management conversation in a meaningful way.  It is based on 3 simple steps:  I notice; I’m concerned; Let’s focus on solutions at work.

Barndoors

It struck me immediately that it looks very similar to the structure we use in a mediated conversation, and that it is aimed at being preventative.   Mediation too, or a structured conversation with an impartial facilitator, can be preventative and will provide the safe space many need for full disclosure.

So my colleague Michelle Phaneuf and I approached Morgan Craig-Broadwith, the Manager of Workplace Wellness for the CMHA, Calgary Region, and we decided to put on a learning breakfast with a simulated mediation based on a mental health issue.  There were two purposes to the event:

  • To demonstrate a mediation with a simulated scenario.
  • To open a conversation about mental health in the workplace.

We conducted the role play live and unscripted in front of an audience of about 30 people, mostly from the HR community in Calgary.

As the role players became safer and more trustful the employee, played by Morgan, disclosed that she was dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Her manager’s reaction was shock, and fear: a genuine reaction born from surprise.  Similarly, the employee experienced the accusations and mistrust from her manager that many people in the workplace face.

While the parties did get up and over Conflict Mountain and began searching for options, we had to cut the mediation short before writing up a full agreement to allow time for questions.  I think if we do this again we need to allow at least ½ day for the entire event.

  • We got some excellent questions from the audience:
  • What should be considered when writing up an accommodations plan?
  • What do you do when one party does not seem to hear the apology of the other and they appear to be spiraling around the same issues?
  • What is important about the written agreement and how do you make sure it is specific enough and hold the parties accountable to it?
  • What do you do when participants get frustrated and are uncooperative?

As you can see by the questions, this made for a rich discussion, and each question merits a blog of its own. I have fodder for months, as you can’t do justice in a few sentences for any one of these questions.

ImageYesterday’s presentation and role play was absolutely excellent, likely one of the most beneficial ones I’ve been to in a long time. (Joellen Short, CHRP Candidate, Long View)

Thanks to everyone who participated. We would love to hear more of your feedback. If you were a participant at this event, I am very interested to know if it has influenced your perspective on using a neutral facilitator for those preventative facilitated dialogues.

A Simulated Mediation – mental health issues in the workplace