A small local business was experiencing workplace conflict among the employees and between management and employees. The conflict had been going on for several months, and even as management made small organizational changes, nothing seemed to satisfy the staff. Within months, services were compromised, frequent clients began to complain and routine processes were coming undone. The managing staff decided that traditional disciplinary tactics would not be helpful. Instead they decided to try something new – use a restorative circle to create a safe space for all staff to talk and listen to each other. After careful planning, the circle ensued. All 30 plus staff members devoted a full day to establishing their values, reconnecting to the organization’s mission. The discussions were based on speaking openly and honestly, listening to each other’s concerns, acknowledging how each were being impacted by the changes and by the negative behaviors, taking responsibility for their role in the problems, and very importantly, determining how they would work together to make things right and improve the working environment. The session ended with written agreements on how to move forward. The day ended with a team building activity to bring levity to the space after a long and hard conversation.
The DRC offers the restorative service of Peacemaking to community members and organizations. This approach to problem solving very often leads to solutions. Just as crucial, Peacemaking reminds us of the importance of relationships, mutual respect and taking responsibility.