A seventeen-week Executive Diploma in Mediation and Arbitration course opened in Accra at the weekend with a call on workplace leaders to learn to manage conflicts.
Mr. Austin A. Gamey, Chief Executive, Gamey and Gamey Academy of Mediation said realising that the basic nature of human beings was to avoid painful or unpleasant experiences whenever possible, it was incumbent on all leaders or those who provided leadership to strive towards conflict competence.
This, he noted, was because conflicts were bound to occur, hence the need for leaders to equip themselves with skills so as to deal with it.
Mr Gamey said from experience, poorly managed conflict created enormous costs in the form of wasted time, higher turnovers, lawsuits, destruction and loss of human lives.
This, he noted, could lower productivity.
Mr Gamey said there was the need for workplace leaders to always remember that when people were left to engage in destructive conflict, they pulled back, stopped sharing information, and took fewer risk.
This was often because their morale was low, working relationships were strained and issues of stress and the sapping of employee' energy set in, he said.
Mr Gamey said, the results were often poor-quality decision making due to the lack of losing creativity.
He said it was not possible to do away with conflicts at the workplace because people would always have differences in value, goals, principles and tactics and this, more often than not, led to conflicts.
"The key consideration becomes how we deal with these differences," he added.
He said, for the leaders to be able to manage the conflicts and bring about change in their workplaces there was the need for them to engage in improving their own conflict awareness skills as well as those of their organisations and citizens.
Mr. Gamey said leaders should not wait for others to raise the issues relating to conflict resolution, but rather they should always be in the lead in showing the way.
During the 17-week period, the 25 participantsincluding Chief Executive Officers (CEO), Directors, Human Resource Managers, Industrial Relation Officers, Lawyers, Security Officers, Trade Union leaders and some chiefs would be trained and equipped with what leaders needed to do to become personally competent in dealing with conflicts.
Professor Kofi Quarshiga, Director, Human Rights Centre of the University of Ghana, Legon, said in the past, the approach to the teaching and management of conflict had been adversarial, which was always on the defensive trying to prove his or her innocence.
The managing of conflicts had often led to the destruction of relationships and it was for such reasons that medication and arbitration was being promoted as best Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The ADR, he noted, was nothing new to Ghanaians since it had always been practiced in the traditional settings since long ago.
Mrs Clevenda Bright-Parker, Liberian Ambassador appealed to the organisers to extend the programme to other places in the sub region, including Liberia, Cote d' Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
"If the ADR is taught across the sub-region I believe the level of conflicts would be minimised," she said.
Mr Jerome Akafi, Deputy CEO and Senior Consultants Gamey and Gamay urged participants to endeavour to become agents of change, not only in their workplaces but across the length and breath of the country and beyond.