Organisations require a strong intake assessment process for managing complaints and disputes. A triage system involves a skilled staff member (usually, but not necessarily from the Human Resources team) asking the right questions to determine the root cause of the conflict, who is involved and the desired outcome.
This helps people make an informed choice about the best resolution option. This process often goes under different names including collaborative intake assessment or triage.
The triage process
Through a triage process, it will for example, become apparent that if someone is accused of doing something that by policy and law must formally be dealt with, and if the other person clearly disputes that accusation, the appropriate process will be a rights-based process of adjudication. Here, a formal complaint is usually warranted.
Alternatively, if a dispute seems to have arisen through lack of clarity about issues (for example, where a person perceives someone’s behaviour as bullying), and if the dispute seems only to affect two parties, then mediation may be appropriate. If there is significant conflict, an intervention that transforms the conflict to the point where those affected are willing to cooperate would be appropriate.
These are the types of circumstances that can be raised through a triage process. It provides a legitimate opportunity for people to describe their particular issue. A trained intake assessment officer is able to ask pertinent questions. Options for resolving the issue, including the objective the person is seeking, as well as the likely outcomes, can be discussed. This collaborative approach results in people being better informed about their choices. It also provides people with a high level of ownership and responsibility for managing their own issues.