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A grizzly confrontation

Blair Mcpherson

The US National Parks and Recreational Service is advertising an unusual post. The successful candidate will head up a team to deal with conflicts between locals and the growing number of bears within the Montana National Park. Grizzlies rarely attack people but they do upset farmers by killing live stock and residents by breaking into cars and holiday cabins searching for food.

Occasionally a bold bear will be seen searching through the rubbish bins behind a fast food restaurant on the edge of town. The conflict managers job is to keep the peace between protected bears and upset residents. The similarities between this post and the head of HR in your average organisation struck a chord with me.

HR try and keep the peace between employees and management and an employee and their manager. Managers just want to get on with their job without a rogue bear or group of bears  disrupting the smooth running of the organisation.

Managers would like to take drastic action to solve the bear problem but HR point out that such a response could escalate the situation by antagonising bears and may also be against the law. The best course of action is distraction and reward but if a particular bear is repeatedly a problem they can be relocated.

Conflict prevention is all about maintaining good relationships, understanding the issues and understanding both sides interests, taking the emotions out of the situation and especially when dealing with bears learning the non verbal communication cues.
Top tip – feelings can run high , getting the two sides to sit down together may not be the best course of action.

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