The From Conflict to Co-operation series aims to help co-operatives not only to deal with conflict when it arises but also to avoid unnecessary conflict.
From Conflict to Co‑operation was written by Kate Whittle, Cooperantics, illustrated by Angela Martin and published by Co‑operatives UK.
Booklet 1: Conflict – where it comes from and how to deal with it
Outlines the different ways conflict can arise in a co-operative, the different responses and how it can be dealt with.
Booklet 2: Communication skills
Outlines some basic communication concepts and looks at steps we can take to improve communication, including avoiding misunderstandings arising from cultural or gender differences. We discuss the importance of assertive behaviour for good communication and highlight how the enterprise will benefit from maximum participation by members.
Booklet 3: Meetings and decision-making
Describes ways in which we can make meetings more effective. Effective meetings are reasonably short and enjoyable, good decisions are taken and everyone comes away with a clear idea of who is going to do what. We also look at a range of different decision-making methods and the implications of their use.
Booklet 4: Organisational growth and development
Explores the tensions that can arise as a co-operative develops and to identify tools, techniques and approaches which will help as the co-operative experiences growth and change. We look at managing change, policies and procedures to address issues such as recruitment, induction and appraisals or personal reviews. We also discuss a participative approach to strategic planning and summarise four strategic planning tools.
Booklet 5: Role and responsibilities of the board
Addresses the vital role of the board. We look at the different roles that board members can adopt, the relationship of the board with day to day management and what to do if you are a board member as well as an employee – which hat do you wear when?
The booklets are aimed primarily at flat democratically-managed co-operatives, small or large. However, they will be useful for any groups working democratically.
Whilst it’s true that good governance will help co-operatives avoid many of the conflicts which can arise when a group of people work together, it’s also important to think about how we behave within the systems and processes of governance, using co-operative skills to improve communication, meetings and decision-making.
There are many types of co-operative enterprise, so some of the issues and problems we describe here may not apply directly to your situation, but they may help your thinking in general about how you address conflict in your co-operative.