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We spoke to CEO Steve of Badger Maps about his thoughts on conflict management in his field.

Steven Benson is the Founder and CEO of Badger Maps, the #1 route planner for field salespeople. After receiving his MBA from Stanford, Steve’s career has been in field sales with companies like IBM, Autonomy, and Google – becoming Google Enterprise’s Top Performing Salesperson in the World in 2009. In 2012 Steve founded Badger Maps to help field salespeople be more successful. He has also been selected as one of the Top 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management.

What is your day-to-day like?

My day-to-day activities usually involve meetings with my teams, calls or video chats with team members from our other offices in SLC and Spain, and focused time where I can work with no distractions.There are always a ton of things coming up every day and we have lots of projects going on at Badger. To stay on top of everything, I focus on getting the important things done – even when they’re not urgent. Unfortunately, there are also ‘urgent but not important’ things and ‘important and urgent’ things that constantly pop up

The way I carve off time to focus on getting the important things done is by working late at night when there aren’t any distractions. The other thing that has worked just as well for me is waking up early and working. In either case, the key is that the phone doesn’t ring, there are no meetings, and no one is grabbing me to take care of things that are urgent.

I also write down every night the most important things I want to do the next day, and then try to do those things before anything else. I like to put this as a recurring calendar entry because then anything I don’t do in a day can automatically roll over to the next day, and it blocks off a period of time for me to focus on those important things. There are a bunch of productivity apps that are great for this, too.

For me, it’s important to have half my day unscheduled. So many things come up that if I didn’t have unblocked time throughout the day, I wouldn’t be able to jump into the things that are really important to keeping the team moving efficiently.

What were your big challenges?

There have been a lot of challenges when starting and growing Badger Maps, but the toughest one was to build a great team. You need a team of great people to do great things, but it’s hard to hire people who have the expertise that you need to build a company. I’m sure this is more true in some industries than others, and it’s certainly true in our industry – software.

The challenges to building a great team starts with finding great co-founders. Bringing in great people, who are the right fit, with the right skills onto the team early on when you face insurmountable odds is one of the toughest parts of launching a business. After you lock in the core team, making your first few hires are critical in terms of shaping the culture and getting your future leaders in place. It takes way longer and it’s way harder to do well then I ever realized before I set out to do it.

Another challenge for me was, and still is, building a great culture and providing the best communication platforms while having a mobile workforce. It’s hard to create a sense of community with a dispersed workforce because people need to socialize in person to build trust and relationships. At Badger, we have offices across 3 continents but we do our best to have a cohesive culture.

How did you address them?

To foster a great culture and community at Badger, we have employees from different offices visit and work out of the other offices for extended periods of time. We are for example sending people from our Headquarters in San Francisco to our main office in Europe, in Spain for 1 to 3 months.

We encourage constant communication between the employees with tools like Slack and Google Hangouts but it’s still a challenge to constantly keep everyone involved and updated.

We also have a Foosball table in our office since it’s a great team building activity. We’ve found that when a team has a sport or an activity in common it’s invaluable and fosters a great and inclusive culture. It helps everyone get to know each other, deepens relationships, and gives people a way to blow off steam together. Foosball is a simple but surprisingly fun game, and anyone can play it as it cuts across gender, culture, and natural physical ability.

A team building event playing a popular sport like basketball has an uneven playing field. Even if one person is great at Foosball, and the other person has hardly played, it’s still fun, and the teams can be balanced in two on two pretty easily. The positive impact on team culture to have something that anyone can do together is hard to beat! All of the Badger offices have a Foosball table that people enjoy playing – often in a highly competitive manner. When people go to different offices, they all have this shared hobby in common.

What are some clear results since solving the problem?

We were able to create a different kind of culture at Badger that is more supportive and team oriented than a lot of Silicon Valley cultures. I hope and believe that we are creating a company with an environment where all types of people can thrive in and develop successful and fulfilling careers.

What do you see as exciting opportunities in the future?

 

I’m most excited about the opportunity to coach, lead, mentor and further grow my team at Badger. I’m having a ton of fun helping people be their best in their career, and there has been so much personal and professional growth at the company over the last few years. We have taught people how to do better at their job. But more important, we’ve worked to find the right fit for people in the organization and launched their careers in a way they will never forget. I’m looking forward to coaching even more in the future and growing the teams across our different offices.

What advice do you have for others in your shoes?

My advice is to build a culture and business that people are really excited to work at. It’s important to create an environment where everybody feels welcomed and appreciated, and is happy with their position and career development. Providing a great workplace will help you avoid internal conflicts and miscommunications, overcome challenges with recruiting and hiring and increase employee retention.

Culture is an important concept because it makes or breaks the success of an organization. It can make a company great to work for or it can make it a chore to show up for work. Culture is hard to put your finger on, but if all the people who work at a company seem to have something in common, function as one unit, and seem to all be on the same team, then they probably have a strong culture.

You can try to gloss over a crappy work environment with higher pay and perks, but ultimately, people leave their jobs because their manager is bad or because the company has a crappy culture that sucks the life out of them. But it’s hard to fake, you have to have an authentic, genuinely awesome place to work to attract and retain top talent, and grow your business.

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#metoo webinar on April 5th, 2018 “Workplace Power Imbalance”

The issue of workplace conflict has become a viral issue for contemporary society. At no point in our history have victims stepped forward in these numbers. On the one hand, it is awe-inspiring to see the empowerment being exhibited. On the other, conflict management professionals need to ramp up and support the burgeoning number of people in need of our vital competencies.

Join us for a webinar exploring this explosive subject. April 5th, 2018. For more info, go to:   http://bit.ly/2G4iSM6

 

See everyone there!

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Attributes of a Good Mediator

There is no formula for figuring out who the “best” mediators are – there is no governing body that determines minimal qualifications for a professional mediator. Even if there were, education and training don’t guarantee competence, because a “good” mediator also possesses certain internal attributes that aren’t necessarily learned in a classroom. They just simply can’t be learned in a classroom. They are internal traits which are either inherent or learnt from one’s own environment.
This article lists external and internal attributes that the most effective mediators possess.

External attributes

Mediators in the United States are not required to meet a uniform standard of education or training for beginning to practice mediation; each state has its own requirements, or, in many cases, none at all. It depends from situation to situation and place to place.
For this reason, it can be difficult to evaluate the qualifications of a potential mediator. We recommend paying particular attention to the following external attributes of mediators you are considering to hire:

Training/Education

How much training has the mediator received?

Was any of the training specific to a certain area of practice (e.g., family, landlord/tenant)?

How recently was the mediator trained? Do they attend refresher courses and keep up on current mediation techniques?

Where was the training conducted?

Does the mediator have a degree in dispute resolution or a related field? If so, from where (e.g. online, law school, university)?

These questions do held relevance, even though just a degree is not enough to know the competence of a mediator.

Certified or certificated? (If required in your state)

Is the mediator actually certified or certificated?

What organization issued the certificate?

What are the requirements of that certificate?

When was the certificate earned?

This will let you know the ‘value’ of you mediator, and will give you a fair abour his or her skills.

Experience

For how long has this mediator been in practice? Full-time or part-time?

How many mediations has this mediator conducted, and how many were similar to yours?

Does this mediator specialize in the area of your particular dispute?

This one is important. More the experience, more the tact. Experienced mediators often have higher success rates than the ones who are not that experienced.

Professional memberships

Does this mediator belong to an organization requiring adherence to certain standards?

Does this mediator serve on the board of any relevant organizations?

This again gives an idea about the standing and influence of a mediator.

Philosophy and approach

What philosophy does this mediator apply to their work? Do they describe their work as facilitative, transformative, and/or evaluative? Take note of how the mediator describes their process, then consider what that would look like when applied to your case.

What kind of interaction with disputants does the mediator like to have?

Fees

Are fees charged by the session, by the hour, by the case?

What is included in these fees?

This one is also  important and should be decided beforehand so there are no disputes about it afterwards.

Internal attributes

What about the things that can’t be listed on a profile page? There are five ways to know about the competency skills which cannot be presented on the paper:

Investigative

Effective mediators are able to quickly identify relevant information. They ask questions to gain an understanding of both the facts of the case and of parties’ underlying interests and motivations. This investigation helps them in understanding and resolving the case.

Empathetic

Mediators should handle the knowledge of parties’ underlying interests with empathy and consideration. They are willing to ask emotionally difficult questions and do so in an unbiased and respectful manner. A non empathic mediator has lower success rates.

Inventive and problem-solving

Effective mediators help disputants discover common ground and guide them toward mutual understanding from there; they are willing to be inventive with unusual situations. This will help you reach faster to a resolution.

Effective presenter

Verbal expressions, gestures, and eye contact are consistently and effectively used by good mediators to structure an environment in which disputants are willing to re-examine their positions. They maintain a safe and relatively calm atmosphere with confidence and communicative body language.

Capably manages interactions

Mediators should keep the parties on track and working toward the issues they have identified as central to their conflict, and call for breaks or private caucuses when needed. A good mediator knows when allowing tension to rise will be productive and when to effectively defuse tension. These tactics must demonstrate sensitivity to the disputants’ needs (e.g., emotional, cultural) and remain neutral.

After the mediation

After you select your mediator – and hopefully, settle your case – it’s time to help others consider this mediator for their own cases. A testimonial and/or recommendation of your mediator provides vital information for other people in conflict, particularly about the mediator’s internal attributes that can’t be seen on a profile page.
Additionally, a testimonial helps to spread the word that mediation is a quick, confidential, and cost-effective way to settle disputes out of court. A mediator should be selected very carefully and in no haste.

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Exploring Mediation

Is going to court the best way out for any legal matter? Or, is there a better alternative? And how will the legal industry look like in the next 5 years?

Let’s find out in this special feature where Prerna Foundation and KyaBae come together, with our host, Parzaan Dastur interviewing Mr. Prathamesh D. Popat.

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What if Conflicts were not Bad?

Very interesting TedxTalk on Conflict. It deals with the question: What if Conflicts were not Bad?

It talks about mediation without labeling it.

The important shift from trying to manage people with the conflict to ensuring there is a process in place that allows your parties to be vulnerable!

The video dates from 2015, but it gives some interesting perspectives for workplace conflicts. How do you deal with conflicts?

 

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Active Listening in Mediation

The object of active listening in conflict resolution is to acquire and demonstrate understanding of the other, which will serve as a basis for reaching joint decisions and resulting in resolving a conflict. In order to succeed in this, active listening has to focus on common problems in oral interpersonal communication. This presentation mentions the few ways in which active listening can be practiced and also deal with communication pitfalls during mediation.