The Top 10 Reasons for Business Disputes
Anyone running a business or managing people will realise that conflict can occur at work at almost any time. A supplier suddenly fails to deliver that all important part and when you chase them they have a nonchalant attitude and claim it’s because you were two days late paying your last bill; an employee starts to turn up late for work without explanation and their manager gives them a dressing down in front of the whole office; or a customer says the last lot of products you delivered weren’t up to scratch and refuses to pay.
Any of these circumstances could result in an expensive business dispute, unless that is they are handled correctly.
By understanding the reasons that business disputes get out of control you can take preventative action yourself to keep disruption to a minimum. This checklist of the 10 most common reasons that disputes occur is essential reading for managers and business owners.
1 Lack of respect – a key reason why employees will seek to take a legal action against a Company is not the legal rights or wrongs of a particular set of circumstances but rather an inability to treat them with dignity. If an employee or a worker is not treated with respect whatever the legal rights or wrongs this increases the chances of a dispute occurring.
2 Lack of understanding – A lack of understanding between parties is often a real issue which can lead to a minor dispute escalating into something much more serious. Often disputes can arise not from anything badly intended or illegal but rather than from a series of misunderstandings which can manifest in hostility arising between the parties.
3 Early use of lawyers – A real danger with a dispute is in seeking to instruct lawyers at too early a stage. It is one thing to get advice but once you start sending in the cavalry (exchanging solicitors letters) it generally makes the chances of resolving the dispute much more difficult. This problem is not helped by the fact that there is so much regulation people are afraid of falling foul of the law.
4 Fear of conflict – It is inevitable that people will be afraid of conflict. Most people do not deal well with conflict. Avoiding the issue however is rarely going to solve it. The problem with an aloof approach is that you do not get to the heart of the dispute and understand where the grievance genuinely lays. The solution lies in genuine willingness to address the conflict and having the courage to engage with the other party.
5 Lack of preparation – Small things matter. If when a dispute comes to a head you are not prepared you make it far more likely that you will say something you regret, miss an important detail or make an error which may increase the likelihood of the problem getting worse. If you are prepared and are genuinely calm this will increase the chance of the dispute being successfully resolved.
6 Inability to identify when to settle and when to fight – A key skill in dispute resolution is the capacity of the parties to identify when you should continue to fight and when you need to walk away. If you have the calmness and intelligence to know when to assert yourself this will give a greater chance of resolving any dispute.
7 Being too weak – Any party who is fails to assert themselves in a dispute situation will be vulnerable to pressure or even bullying from the other party. It is essential that you are clear on your expectations and that these are clearly laid out. And remember being assertive isn’t about being aggressive The key for both parties in a dispute is to show a genuine, quite assuredness.
8 Being too strong – A real danger is that if a party seeks to over-extend themselves within negotiations this will lead to antagonising the other side. Generally aggressive negotiators do worse than co-operative negotiators. Any mediator will tell you that co-operative parties get a better result from any mediation.
9 Inability to comply with the law – Legal dynamics are of course important in determining the strength of a claim. If you are in a strong legal position it puts you in a much better position to negotiate. If however the law is not on your side you may need to prepare to concede.
10 Industry and economic factors – Certain industries and job roles are more inclined to have disputes. There tends to be more conflict in a sales environment, which is traditionally competitive. In a recession a sales team can be under constant pressure and often a sales organisation becomes a very unpleasant place to work. These pressures all increase the chances of people being laid off and disputes arising. It is probably asking too much for you to change the economy but if you can be careful in how you handle poor performance and refer back to point 1 on this list this will enhance the chance of a dispute being avoided.
The Human Law Mediation guide to Keeping Disputes Out of the Courtroom is available to download from the website.
After reading this Guide you will be able to:
- Understand fully the different options open to you in resolving disputes – and their costs
- Follow a 6-point plan for effective despite resolution which could save thousands on every dispute you ever face
- Understand how you can avoid Employment Tribunal and Civil Litigation cases and their associated resource implications
This Guide will help you and fellow management make decisions with more confidence so that time and effort can be put into managing the business instead of managing problems.
If you are facing disputes at work and need help in understanding how to handle disputes without going through a full blown legal process contact Justin Patten of Human Law Mediation.
You can download a copy of the Guide to Keeping Disputes out of Court for free here.