Informal conflict resolution

One of the ways to manage workplace conflicts is through informal conflict resolution. This approach is often recommended as a first step in solving conflicts and is generally implemented through guided conversations or mediation. 

We recognize the value of this approach as part of the grievance process in our collective agreements. 

Choosing this path to solve your issue

Informal conflict resolution is an approach that allows the parties involved to stay in control of the process and to negotiate and settle on solutions that work for everyone. The success of this process depends on the good faith of all the parties involved and their willingness to resolve the conflict peacefully.

We encourage you to explore this path, whenever possible, to resolve your work conflict. Mediation can lead to new understandings and stronger work relations. 

“Is this the right process for me?”

Below are some questions you can ask yourself to know if this is the right process for you:

  • How important is my relationship with my manager or supervisor, and can I speak with him/her to explain my issues?
  • Do I have a personal situation I would like to discuss with my manager or supervisor using this confidential process that could help resolve the situation?
  • Are there parts of a conflict that cannot be addressed through a formal process?

“What steps should I follow?”

Here is a list of steps you can follow to resolve your conflict through informal conflict resolution:

  • Contact your CAPE labour relations officer to know your rights. 
  • Contact your Informal Conflict Management Systems (ICMS) services if you would like an impartial third party to assist you in having a discussion and hopefully finding a resolution.
  • Speak with your manager, supervisor or colleague - if you can - to propose the use of ICMS.
  • Identify the issues to be discussed and the ground rules to respect during the meeting (for example, one person speaks at a time, and agreeing to hear and discuss compromises.).
  • If all parties agree, schedule the meeting.

“What kind of outcomes can I expect?”

When you proceed with the informal conflict resolution process, there are various possible outcomes:

  • You can leave a mediation session or a facilitated discussion with a clearer understanding of each parties’ position, and most importantly, feeling heard.
  • You can leave a mediation or facilitated discussion with an agreement outlining how the issues or conflicts will be addressed for the past (for example, a remedy) and the future (for example, how similar issues will be addressed in the future).
  • You can leave a mediation or facilitated discussion without a resolution.

You should know that the sessions are confidential, and their content cannot be used in any further discussions or processes.

Being unsuccessful at resolving an issue through informal recourses does leave you with the possibility of addressing issues with a formal process. 

Get assistance

If you are not sure whether informal conflict resolution is the right process for you, you can contact your labour relations officers to seek some advice. You can also contact your local for general guidance.

Know your rights!

The workplace is complex to navigate, knowing your rights will empower you.

Read more