Have you ever heard of the SALAM model of conflict management?
If this is your first time then you’re in the right place.
Dealing with conflict is a fact of life and an inevitable part of our jobs.
We can all recount occurrences at work when two or more people were at odds with one another. It may have been a difference in strategy, beliefs, personalities, or for a number of other reasons.
In some situations the conflict was minor and could be resolved in a relatively short period of time. However, a situation may arise that can be intense in nature. This often requires a supervisor or a member of the management team to step into the fray to bring about a good resolution.
If the manager is skilled in conflict resolution then a positive outcome is achievable. However, if the manager is lacking core conflict resolution skills then a negative outcome is likely to occur.
In order to implement the S.A.L.A.M model of conflict resolution let us first begin by defining what “conflict resolution” refers to. It is a term used to describe when two or more parties work together to find a peaceful outcome to the disagreement between them.
It is often that these conflicts are personal, political, financial, or emotional. The goal is to develop a solution that the parties involved are comfortable with while improving their relationship at the same time.
Defining the SALAM Model
The SALAM model is a method in Islamic Management that deals with conflict. This model follows a series of steps beginning with the correct understanding of the disagreement at hand and it ends with a form of peaceful agreement. The steps within the process are as follows:
- Stating the conflicting view
- Agreeing that conflict exists
- Listening and learning the difference
- Advising one another
- Minimizing areas of disagreements
The very first step is to provide an opportunity to all parties to state what their problems are. What exactly are we trying to solve?
When all parties have stated their feelings, they need to agree that a conflict exists. It’s important to avoid creating personal bias or judging any of the parties at this stage in the process.
Thirdly the parties involved will need to listen and learn from each other to understand the disagreement between them. One step a manager can do is to have both parties swap positions. Let the members try to explain how the other party views the conflict.
Doing so will help those within the conversation to understand all viewpoints. It opens the door to advising one another and finding a common ground from which to find the best possible solution. This stage of the process can foster healthy collaboration. Finally we then seek to minimize any potential conflicts from arising. This can be done using tactics such as negotiation or proactive debate.
How To Use The SALAM Model To Solve a Salary Issue
With a firm understanding of the process why don’t we put it to good use?
Let’s try to find a solution to a hypothetical salary issue between a manager and his two subordinates. I’ll pretend to play the role of an Operations Manager at XYZ Inc. I get to play the boss in this story!
I have two subordinates working within the logistics branch of the company who directly report to me on a daily basis. Their names are Ahmed and Said. Both of them have graduated with Bachelor Degrees in Business. They successfully landed positions at our firm immediately after graduating from university in December of last year.
They have both worked at the company for at least one year. During the last 12 months they worked on a number of large projects with multiple teams in the organization. They have also submitted plenty of individual work on a consistent basis.
Both of them believe they produced excellent results for the organization and that their productivity warrants a pay raise. They have requested a raise to their salaries beginning next fiscal year when their employment contract is set to be renewed. Unfortunately, both Ahmed and Said have made a number of grave mistakes in the last three months that make me wary and hesitant in granting them higher wages.
In just the last 3 months they have gone over budget on two important projects. They also mishandled one of our clients and we nearly lost the client to our competition. With this role-play scenario we will learn how the SALAM model can find a peaceful solution that all parties can agree to.
Step 1 – Stating the Conflicting View
The first question we need to answer is, “what problem are we trying to solve?”
The very first thing to do as the manager for Ahmed and Said would be to bring them into my office for a meeting. Although we’re aware of their desire to seek a raise, let’s implement the SALAM model as best as possible to derive a win-win solution. It is not safe to assume that I already understand the views of Ahmed and Said. Therefore, I will ask them to share what they believe to be is the conflict. Likewise, I will follow suit and share my thoughts on the nature of the conflict.
Upon hearing both men share their views we learn that they believe I have not done an appropriate job in tracking the results and progress they’ve brought to the organization, especially in the last 3 months. Furthermore, I also share my reservations about giving them a salary raise because of their missteps with their budget allocation and poor client dealings.
Step 2 – Agreeing that a Conflict Exists
With little to no effort both parties agree that a conflict exist. Ahmed and Said acknowledge that there is a disconnect between how they view their own work and how I, their manager, view their work. Furthermore, I agree with their assessment of the situation.
Step 3 – Listening and Learning the Difference
As Stephen Covey puts it in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the parties involved in a conflict should intend to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The very first action in my role as a manager is to give both subordinates the airtime they need to share all of their feelings about why they deserve the raise.
Oftentimes the needs of employees go unexpressed. It is up to the manager to develop a system of training, communications, and staff relations that creates an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable in sharing their feelings and experiences with their superiors.
After hearing their thoughts about their great work, I will then use the opportunity to share my findings into the poor budgeting and client relations they have had in the last 3 months. At this stage of the process both parties will only focus on understanding the viewpoints of one another.
Step 4 – Advising One Another
This step is where we will apply the Islamic principle of shura. Now that both parties understand the issue at hand, we can consult one another in finding the solution. By enabling my employees to speak their minds earlier I have a firm grasp of what motivates them to work hard.
Ahmed and Said are both young and early in their professional careers. They believe that receiving a salary raise will motivate them to stay at the firm longer, continue to work on exciting projects, and grow their business skills. Seeing this positive mindset from these two employees is reassuring.
Many young professionals in today’s workforce believe their skills are not being developed to their full potential. Furthermore, only a portion are fully satisfied and fulfilled with the learning opportunities they have at work.
From my point of view, I explain to the young men that training on finance and customer service could have prevented their earlier mistakes from occurring.
Step 5 – Minimizing Areas Of Disagreements
The fourth habit covered in Stephen Covey’s book was to “think win-win.” That refers to seeking mutually beneficial solutions that all parties can happily agree to. During this final stage of the process we need to mitigate any potential issues that could derail the success of our solution.
The Peaceful Outcome for Ahmed and Said
By following the SALAM model this is the agreement that I came to with the support of Ahmed and Said.
- Both staff will receive a salary raise of 15% for their next employment contract renewal.
- They will undergo a 2 week training program on the basics of accounting. This is to ensure that future budgets they create for projects will be more accurate.
- They will also undergo a 3 week training program on customer relationship management. Both training programs will be covered by our company XYZ Inc.
This peaceful outcome was agreed upon by both parties.
What other situations do you think the SALAM model can be helpful in?