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In organizational contexts, people are often familiar with investigation processes and workplace assessments as the “go to” measures to resolve complaints or conflicts in the workplace. These are important and necessary processes, but workplace restoration is in fact also an option, though not often considered. This is perhaps because many people are not familiar with this process, and even if they are familiar, they are uncertain of what a workplace restoration process entails, let alone how to design such a process.
In my experience, when I introduce the process to clients, they are very intrigued by the concept but then their first question is, “Well, what does that look like?” or, “What does that entail?” The truth is, it depends. The beauty of a workplace restoration process is that it is custom-designed for the organization’s particular circumstances. There is no “one size fits all” approach.
When I am working with clients, there are five key elements to the workplace restoration process, each of which are described below:
- Planning: In this initial phase, there are a few things to determine: (i) the restoration team (whether internal or external), (ii) the means by which information will be gathered in the next phase, (iii) the relevant stakeholders from whom the information needs to be gathered, and (iv) how the information collected will be reported to the organization’s leadership and utilized to design the restoration process.
- Information Gathering: Before a restoration process can be designed, the issues and the conflicts need to be clearly understood. This is because the process will be custom-designed to address the particular concerns that exist. This can be done through an assessment-type process or, for example, where an investigation has been done, the investigation report may contain the necessary information.
- Process Design: Once the issues have been identified and understood, the recommended restoration process can then be designed to specifically address those issues. This is usually a collaborative process between the facilitator(s) and the organization’s leadership to ensure that the agreed-upon process is suitable for the organization and the circumstances at hand.
- Implementation: One the process has been designed and approved, it is time to implement and execute.
- Monitoring/Review: It is important to have an ongoing process of monitoring or review in order to assess the sustainability of any improvements achieved and whether any changes need to be made along the way.
Now that we can see the big picture of how the restoration process works, let us look specifically at the process design component (#3 above). As mentioned above, the restoration process is created to fit the particular circumstances at hand and there are different tools that can be used. Some tools include: mediation, one-on-one meetings, coaching, group sessions, and training. The process that you design may include one or any combination of these tools. For example, in a workplace where employees feel that management speaks disrespectfully to them and that such behaviour has created a toxic work environment, a restoration process may include coaching and training for the managers. Once the managers have had the benefit of guidance and training, then there may be a group session with employees and managers to talk openly together and to work on rebuilding that relationship. In the case of an investigation where relationships have been negatively impacted, the process may involve initial one-on-one discussions and then potentially mediation. The options are limitless, but timing, strategy and proper communication are critical.
The key is ensuring that the tools implemented are appropriate, not just to the issues that have been identified, but also appropriate for the particular individuals with whom you are dealing. Being effective at workplace restoration requires not just an understanding of conflict management, but an understanding of people and behavioural tendencies.
Workplace restoration requires trust and relationship-building in order to be effective.
For that reason, it cannot be rushed or arbitrary — it must be thoughtful and deliberate.
We offer services to help with Workplace Remediation, including Workplace Restoration. If you wish to learn more about our services click here.