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Emotion – the source and salvation of workplace challenges

It’s so important to understand the role that emotions play in the workplace.

When employees turn to a mediator to help resolve their legal disputes, they bring not only evidence but also emotions with them. Workplace conflict that leads to anxiety in one employee may promote anger in another – everyone is different. Deciding whether or how to address varied emotions that stand in the way of resolution is a key to a successful mediation.

However, it’s important to understand that emotions are the salvation, as well as source, of workplace challenges. And there’s nothing wrong with emotions – we should be encouraged to be how we feel within work, as well as outside. And increasingly, leaders must make a positive emotional connection with those that they seek to inspire, in order to get the results they need. The greatest therapy for the seemingly endless stream of daily challenges facing employees is for them to understand clearly a pride and purpose underpinning what they do.

Leaders therefore need to set out with clarity, honesty and emotion why they advocate a particular business strategy, as well as the detail of what they intend to do. They need to spell out the opportunity that the business is seeking to seize and be frank about what the consequences for the business of not doing so.

The pressures on a modern leader are intense and so businesses need to give their top people the time to think about how they can lead with emotional intelligence.

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Leadership investment and agility are closely connected

I’m fascinated at the moment by the increasingly clear case for investing in your leaders on the one hand and, on the other, how great leaders respond to the fast-changing business environment. The two things are, of course, linked.

Investment in excellent leadership development creates an environment to challenge senior leaders to be the best they can be. And, given the pressures on a modern leader, businesses need to give their top people the ability to think about their development and yet make good and rapid decisions for the benefit of themselves and the organisation.

It really matters to any business to keep its key performers motivated. To face new challenges requires resilience, courage and clear vision. To give a leader the opportunity and investment to allow the talented people underneath them to develop their repertoire of skills and abilities clearly maximises their performance and impact.

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How to be a better leader

There’s more to being a good boss than having the title and responsibility of telling people what to do. Leadership comes with many challenges, and to become effective you need to know how to guide and motivate your employees.

Be agile

Be prepared for disruption – it’s not all going to plain sailing in business. The secret is to make sure you’re responsive to what employees need and also what’s happening from an external perspective. Be proactive in your approach to leadership, so you’re not just fighting fires on a daily basis, but you’re thriving to grow by listening to the needs of your staff and stakeholders.

Let your employees spread their wings.

It’s all well and good having a framework and structure to work within, but don’t make this too restrictive. We’ve found that the most effective leaders…give their staff the maximum degree of latitude to operate within that structure. It’s important that your managerial style reflects this and allows individuals within your organisation to grow to their strengths.

Build relationships

Having the emotional intelligence and behavioural flexibility to lead effectively is so important in business. It’s all about strengthening those professional relationships to create a high-performing workplace. Essentially, you have to be authentic. The big challenge is then maintaining the fabric of that relationship with your employees through disruption and conflict. Show your human side and you’re on your way to converting the sceptics into committed and passionate employees.

Work as a team

Take the time to get to know your team. Understand their background and gain the insight you need to lead in a more collaborative team style. Remember how and when to let others take control, and show respect to others with a different perspective. Employees want to be recognised as individuals and it’s important to take the time to do that.

Mediate effectively 

Want to have a competitive advantage and guarantee business success? The first step is to show staff that the business is willing to hear them out. Mediation with staff is often not used as effectively as it should. It’s all too easy to ignore strained relationships, especially when we’re under pressure ourselves, but have a conversation early enough and it can make the world of difference. Transforming relationships in a positive way avoids the consequences of doing nothing at all and that minor dispute escalating into poor productivity, a lack of engagement, increased workplace absence and ultimately recruitment costs.

(adapted from an article by The Parliamentary Review at

Read more on leadership from Sheridan Resolutions at

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A great celebration!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to our celebration evening in February! There was a lot to celebrate!

Our business was established 12 years ago. We’ve always sought to help senior executives and business leaders realise their full potential. And, as I said on the evening, we are all about strengthening professional relationships and creating high-performing workplaces through a focus on leadership development, team performance, executive coaching and mediation services to a spectrum of clients in both the public and private sectors.

We are now at a crucial juncture in workplace relationships. The big challenge is to attempt to maintain and improve the fabric of relationships in the face of disruptive innovation. Those leaders that can embrace change and reassert their humanity will maintain a significant competitive advantage.

It was wonderful to see so many friends at our event, at which we also celebrated our appearance in the esteemed publication The Parliamentary Review. Sheridan Resolutions featured alongside the PM and a small number of outstanding legal organisations – we are really proud to be a part of it.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

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Great leaders accept their limitations

So much of the discussion around the nurturing of top talent is about leaders coming to terms with their limitations – and turning this to their advantage.

We’ve found that corporate resilience can be built through leaders helping their employees understand and be prepared for the sense of vulnerability inevitable during times of change. To do that, the leader must first take the time necessary to assess and understand where the next source of disruption may come – and how it may best be addressed.

As we recently stated in the latest edition of the prestigious Parliamentary Review, the modern leaders’ role is not to have the answers. Rather, it is to be skilled in having coaching conversations with their people, which in turn expands their thinking and resourcefulness. This is vital because employees increasingly (and rightly) expect to be recognised as individuals, even in the face of sweeping changes, with different needs from, and potential contributions to, their employer.

Treated as such, they can make the change. Those managers who have developed skills in this area will usually make better leaders than those with very high-level technical skills but less personal or professional engagement with their people.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

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Reasserting humanity during times of disruption

It’s been a great January for us with our debut in the esteemed publication The Parliamentary Review. Sheridan Resolutions features alongside the Prime Minister and a small number of outstanding organisations looking back on the year in the legal sector and Westminster.

The Parliamentary Review is sent to over half a million leading policy makers, stakeholders in industry and other relevant individuals. The articles in the Review act as both a blueprint for success and a template for reform. It’s executive director Daniel Yossman, told us: “Sheridan Resolutions and other hardworking organisations from across the country have come together to make the Review possible … It’s always a real joy to hear from policy makers who tell me that something they have read in the Review has had an effect on their thinking. It is my belief that innovation is contagious, if only it is given the platform to spread.”

We couldn’t agree more. We believe that business today relies increasingly on innovation as the bedrock of its success – and that many organisations are not prepared when faced with the disruptive innovation of others. As a result, more businesses are taking proactive steps not just to survive, but to thrive from disruption to their established methods and markets.

The modern challenge is to find innovative forms of leadership that guarantee business success. We are all about the reassertion of humanity in leadership and team performance. Coaching new leadership styles is critical for leading the human side of change and converting scepticism or resistance into receptiveness and commitment.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

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Let’s celebrate UK Mediation Awareness Week!

It’s UK Mediation Awareness Week– and at Sheridan Resolutions we’re delighted to support, promote and celebrate all the events taking place from the 14th to 20th October.

Awareness is growing that the mediation of disputes can provide solutions which meet the needs of all parties, cost much less than litigation, are dealt with more speedily, avoid disruption to business, remove the debilitating effects of conflict and can restore professional and personal relationships.

As regular readers of the Coaching & Mediation Weekly and our blogs will know, disputes in the business workplace cost billions of pounds per annum in legal and other fees. Indirect costs to organisations and individuals in terms of disruption, loss of productive time and reputational risks are incalculable.

Even the simplest dispute can take a long time to reach a court decision and requires a significant input of time from all litigants, with the consequences of ‘losing’ serious for both business and individuals. Private sector companies and individuals have much to gain by intervening early in conflict situations though using mediation. Public sector organisations can also benefit from massive savings in time and money.

UK Mediation Awareness Week will provide an opportunity to understand the benefits of mediation across all walks of life and is supported and promoted by the Civil Mediation Council, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and many, many more organisations (some of them shown in this newsletter) will include conferences, seminars, mock mediations, talks and debates involving all aspects of mediation.

Come and join our celebration! You can find out more about Mediation Awareness Week here and share updates on social media using #mediationawareness

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

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Take the positives from conflict

Resolving workplace conflict is not easy, but perhaps the first step is to stop always thinking of it as a problem. We see confrontation and disagreement as negative, damaging and to be avoided at all costs. We think that talking about a problem will be uncomfortable, or even make things worse, so we try and ignore it.

Even so handling conflict well, to a point, can be healthy and constructive – a important part of management. It can be seen as a chance to move to better workplace relations. There is an “art” to this – for example, where the listener restates a negative statement made by another person in a more positive way, without changing the meaning. Why is this important? Well, it helps the other person to appreciate that you have listened and understood them and encourages them to appreciate how others may view things. It also shifts the focus from people to behaviours.

This of course doesn’t always work, so sometimes leaders and managers today need to know what to do when workplace relations really do break down. Even then, the approach dictates the likelihood of a successful outcomes. Using mediation, for example, can ensure conflicts arising are at least managed well and, again, positive reframing is a vital tool in unblocking obstacles to making real change happen.

We hope that managers can learn to deal positively with conflict at an early stage. And when they can’t, we as mediators we too need to resolve to show the same habits of listening and learning in our daily work – and positively reframe our conversations whenever necessary.

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