Conflict Transformation Process

The idea is not to eliminate conflict... The aim is to transform it.

—Diane Musho Hamilton

All member-workers, employees and contractors of Hypha Worker Co-operative must agree to follow Hypha's Code of Conduct, principles of being a good member and uphold the co-op's values when working together. These form the guidelines for our work together.

When conflict within the co-operative arises, which is both natural, expected, and normal, the following process should be followed to transform the conflict into a better, or at the minimum, neutral experience for those involved. The goal of this process is to transform the conflict at the lowest level of escalation.

Step 1. Personal reflection and support

Before discussing the conflict with the person(s) involved, take some time to reflect and consider the situation. Focus on understanding and naming your own feelings and reactions. Connect with a neutral third party (they can be a Hypha employee/member/contractor or someone outside the co-op) to discuss the situation, if this is an option. Move to Step 2 if the situation feels unresolved after working through it individually.

Step 2. Have a direct conversation with the person

Before engaging in discussion with the person(s) involved, consider what you want to say. Resources for framing this discussion can be found in the NVC (non-violent communication) process or the DESC (Describe, Express, Specify and Consequences) framework. Pick a time and place that works for both parties. Use the framings outlined in the suggested resources to guide the discussion. Try to be considerate of the other person's perspective and feelings. Bring your best, most professional self to the discussion. If this isn't possible with your current mindframe, consider postponing until you feel calmer.

Step 3. Engage in a supported conversation

If you can't resolve the problem after meeting and talking it through, a neutral mediator or third-party should be brought in (note: they don't need to be a trained mediator). This person should be trusted by all involved in the conflict, and they must commit to listening to everyone equally. The mediator in the conversation will not seek to solve the conflict but will instead keep people focused and on track during the discussion, while encouraging them to come to a resolution to the challenge. The mediator commits to active and equal listening and to asking clarifying questions throughout the discussion. These 4 non-violent communications tips for mediators can be used as a guide.

Step 4. Consult a panel of colleagues

If the conflict cannot be managed by direct discussion or mediation, then the next step is to convene a panel of colleagues. As Hypha does not have a group dedicated to this, the Board of Directors is tasked with either appointing a neutral and external third-party organization, or participating directly by listening to both sides and ideally, staying in the conversation until a resolution is reached. If the conflict includes members of the Board, those parties will not be included on the panel.

Step 5. Move from conflict transformation process to employment matter

If the above steps are not successful in resolving the conflict, the situation will become an employment matter. At this stage, members not engaged in the conflict will be asked to gather information about the situation and recommend next steps. Irresolvable conflicts may lead to someone leaving the co-operative, referral to external authorities if relevant, and/or systemic/structural changes to the co-op.

This process was shaped by drawing on resources from Loomio, Corporate Rebels, and New Ways of Working.

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