Enabling Workplace Purpose with Your Values: A Conversation with Wharton’s Richard Shell

Doing your best on the job requires sticking with your conscience and morals, and honing the skills you need to keep on your path, including your conflict management technique.

So says G. Richard Shell, Thomas Gerrity Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics and Management and chair of the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, who joins International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution President and CEO Allen Waxman for a conversation about Shell’s new book, “The Conscience Code: Lead With Your Values. Advance Your Career,” which was published on June 8 by Harper Collins Leadership.

Shell tells Waxman that “late” millennials and early Gen Z-ers may have a tough time in the workplace. “These are people for whom values are nonnegotiable, in a different way than some of the earl[ier] generations,” says Shell, noting that he has been seeing MBA candidates who are seeking to escape from what they view as unethical work environments.

But, he explains, these employees have insufficient skills to “move the organization toward the good” and to navigate workplaces that push and test their moral codes.

That, says Shell, is the inspiration for “The Conscience Code.”

Shell and Waxman discuss workplace conflicts that fall on middle management arising from a variety of sources, and how managing the conflict can “enable purpose,” in line with CPR’s mission of fostering a dispute resolution culture.

Shell adapted a self-test from “The Conscience Code” on conflict management skills for the new July/August issue of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation.  The test advises users on how they face conflict, with the scoring pointing the user to the personal style categories of Advocate, Problem-Solver, Compromiser, Avoider or Accommodator.  The article can be found here.

Please share the video on social media, linked below, and directly on YouTube.


Conflict, Constructively: Damali Peterman on Managing Conflict

By Amy Foust

Commitment, communication, conflict resolution, and comradery: New York attorney Damali Peterman, founder and CEO of Breakthrough ADR, presented a Thursday, March 25, CPR-hosted discussion, “The 4 Cs to Managing Conflict in the Workplace Remotely.” 

Those “4 Cs,” she explained, establish or maintain comradery in a remote relationship. She discussed virtual coffee meetings, using the phone instead of Zoom, turning on cameras during Zoom calls to increase interactive communication, and introducing short icebreakers before getting to the substance of a meeting.  Damali modeled using “reactions” and the Zoom chat function to solicit audience involvement throughout her presentation.

Among other frameworks for understanding and preventing conflict, Damali reviewed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument’s communication styles and how they might appear in common workplace situations.  Understanding those styles, Damali said, can help in understanding behavior even if we do not know people well, as can happen in remote work relationships.  That understanding can also help us be aware of our own responses to conflict, avoiding defensiveness and adapting our response to the situation constructively.

Imagining conflict as an iceberg, Damali said that “only 10% of the iceberg is showing above the waterline.  We want to jump under that water line, and we want to see . . . more of the conflict, understand what happened and gather information.”

To gather information, she encouraged the use of the word “and.”  Rather than acknowledging other perspectives with “yes, but,” which tends to negate what came before, Damali encouraged the use of “yes, and,” which recognizes that there could be many valid perspectives.

In addition to Damali Peterman’s resources on the Breakthrough ADR website, a program of related interest will be “Yes, You Can!  Pathways to a Career in Conflict Prevention & Resolution,” a May 6 event presented by CPR’s Young Leaders in Alternative Dispute Resolution (Y-ADR) and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section.

* * *

Author Amy Foust is an LLM candidate studying dispute resolution at the Straus Institute, Caruso School of Law at Malibu, Calif.’s Pepperdine University, and an intern with the CPR Institute through Spring 2021.