Why do we often find ourselves shying away from conflict in the workplace? Kate Whittle from Co-operantics gives some insights.

Good governance can help organisations avoid many of the conflicts which can arise when a group of people work together. However it’s also important to think about behaviours, using co-operative skills to improve communication, meetings and decision-making.

We mostly shy away from conflict, afraid that it will damage our relationships with others or our confidence in ourselves. This is because we learn strategies for dealing with conflict mainly as children – perhaps in the school playground – and rarely have the opportunity to review those strategies, which may not be effective in adult life.

One way of looking at different responses to conflict is to see them along a continuum leading from avoidance – “run away!” – to confrontation, often based on violence or power relationships. Somewhere between these two extremes are strategies based on changing the subject – or confusing the issue – such as introducing distractions, irony or jokes.

None of these approaches is really satisfactory – if we run away we know we have not solved the problem; we have learned nothing and the next time we will probably run away too.

Changing the subject or confusing the issue or making people laugh can work for a while – comedians sometimes say they learnt to be funny in the school playground as a technique for dealing with the school bully – but such a strategy is not always successful and can be unreliable. Violent confrontation also has its downsides, such as a bloody nose or, if you win, enemies that may try to bring you down later.

However, confrontation does not have to be violent. It can be based on an assertive approach: “I know I have rights and acknowledge your rights – so let’s negotiate a settlement to this dispute that will suit us both”.

Join the wonderful Kate Whittle, from Co-operantics, for her course ‘From conflict to co-operation: a toolkit for teams‘. During the workshop we review different conflict resolution approaches – and we will find that this assertive, co-operative approach is the most satisfactory way to deal with major conflicts, since it involves people working together to find a solution everyone will commit to.

Click here to find out more about Kate’s course ‘From conflict to co-operation: a toolkit for teams’’, Thursday 13th February 2020, 10am – 4pm, Taunton.

Jamie Veitch shares some useful insights on approaching public sector and private contracts.

Jamie Veitch

The public sector awarded over £700 million pounds worth of outsourced contracts in the last three months.

54% of social enterprises trade with the public sector. But many, perhaps your social enterprise, do not. Yet local authorities and the government want to award more contracts to social enterprises and small businesses.

“So what,” you might say. “We don’t have a chance of winning. It’ll take too long to bid, it’s rigged and they know who they want to award it to. There’s no point.” And if that is what you think, you’re wrong.

Many social enterprises already have public sector contracts which they won in a competitive process. They deliver a service well, create social value, earn income and get paid on time (yes, within statutory 30 day payment terms). And they must have started somewhere. They responded to invitations to tender.

Let’s face it, you will never win a public sector contract if you don’t bid for it.

So if you hear ACME-corporation is doing something you know your social enterprise could be doing better… well, it probably sticks in the craw.

But if you didn’t bid: that’s your problem. And if you submitted a bid without planning it properly, that’s also your problem.

I believe values-driven, purpose-led business is changing the world. I think exemplary social enterprises which deliver outstanding services, creating positive impacts and opportunities, should secure contracts.

But numerous brilliant social entrepreneurs still struggle with bid writing. Or avoid it altogether.

That’s why I’ve written a guide to help social entrepreneurs win tenders, which seems to have been really well received by its readers. And that’s why I’m running this workshop.

If you want to grow your social enterprise by winning appropriate public sector contracts, it will help you. Whether you’re new to bidding OR an experienced bidder but want to do better, the workshop will help you to:

• Understand the context in which public service contracts are put out to tender
• Know the numbers: the scale and value of outsourcing in the UK
• Strengthen your organisation so you are ready and fit to bid
• Find invitations to tender for public sector contracts
• Understand the pros and cons of bidding and how to decide whether to respond
• Learn how to use procurement portals
• Understand how contracting authorities evaluate bids
• Decide what to do if you’re part of a collaborative response and you think you might be “bid candy”
• Get to grips with the implications of the Social Value Act
• Plan, assemble and write a great bid
• Win or lose, learn from the process

Click here to find out more about the course Jamie is leading ‘Win public sector and private contracts – ‘tender ready’ not ‘bid-candy’’, Thursday 5th December 2019, 10am – 4pm, Taunton.

To learn more about Jamie’s work, click here.