Barb McGrath 0:00
Our guest today has a very special skill, a mediator and conciliator at heart. Tim nickel is the owner operator of fifth business consulting consulting, for mediating family disputes to facilitating the development of business strategy. Tim has a knack for helping others achieve those Win Win solutions. He also has a very audacious vision, one that I suspect that we can all support, he aims to create a more ethical, resilient and highly developed global civilization. No one will accuse him of being short sighted. Tim, welcome, and thank you for being here.
Tim Nickel 0:45
Thanks for having me, Barb. I’m really pleased to be here.
Barb McGrath 0:47
Oh, you got to kick it in that introduction? You’re kind of smiling there.
Tim Nickel 0:52
Right. Yeah. forgotten that I’ve written that I was inspired moment.
Barb McGrath 0:57
Yes, we all need those whether it’s, you know, after some pops on Friday or after coffee in the morning? Absolutely. So Tim, tell us a little bit about yourself and about business consulting.
Tim Nickel 1:09
Yeah, sure. Um, yeah, so I’ve been a mediator for about 25 years. That’s, that’s, you probably have to know a little bit about my background, to know what that even means. Cuz there’s a lot of different kinds of mediators and that sort of thing. But I’m a registered psychologist. So I went through a graduate program and getting that sort of body of knowledge under my belt. And then I’ve just done a, a range of, of, first of all, mediation kind of work, victim offender work, that which is in the criminal justice system, victims and offenders of crime. And then, in private practice, and working a little bit as a psychologist, but but also as a mediator. And then increasingly, over the years, have worked in organizations. And then and then in public engagement. That’s kind of the track of what I’ve done. I still do a lot of mediation, some family mediation, and then workplace mediation, but I’m really moving into public engagement and multi stakeholder collaboration. So bigger picture, kind of things.
Barb McGrath 2:16
So tell me how that evolution might have happened. Because when I think, oh, bit of an echo there, when I think back to, you know, early in my career at a leader at one point who, who didn’t believe in a win win solution, he believed that if you mediated or conciliated, you’ve given something up. And so how has that evolved over the years to be now collaborative?
Tim Nickel 2:44
Yeah, that’s a really interesting point that you make, it’s it has changed in. So I got into this work in the in the 80s. And mediation as a, as a thing, as an organizational option, or as a program option was very new at the time. I mean, people have been talking and resolving conflict with a little bit of help from from somebody else forever. But but as an institutional thing, it only started in the 80s. And in a few pockets in the 70s. And it took a long time for for the community of mediators to convince the justice system or Family Lawyers or, you know, or civil litigators, that it was a good idea. And so there was a lot of promotion, a lot of explaining, but proof was in the pudding in the end it, it won over lawyers, the legal community has embraced it fully at this point, oh, rare lawyer that that thinks that it’s a better way to to litigate you, somehow you’re giving up, they’re realizing, and it’s a real simple economic principle that if you work together, you gain more off, you get more off the table. It’s proven. You know, it’s, interestingly, it’s john Nash, the guy from a beautiful mind, that movie, he’s the one who really proved it, that if you if you take a look at these things in a different way, that you can get more, both parties get more
Unknown Speaker 4:10
Tim Nickel 4:12
In addition to improving relationships, which has this long standing effect. It’s happened over time. And it’s and it’s around in the, in the 2000s, when, like, after the 90s, it started to really take take hold the better option for people.
Barb McGrath 4:31
So when I think then about mediating, you’re trying to create a better solution for all so when you’re working either in organizational mediation or, you know, within within a business, what would that typically look like? What what’s the service you actually provide?
Tim Nickel 4:52
Okay, so it really is responding to problems, human problems in organizations. And so the problem can take lots of forms. And sometimes mediation is the right way to go and other times more of an organizational development thing. So if you go right back to that, that initial heady statement about civilization and all that, really what I’m, what I’m looking for is growth and development in whatever way that needs to be. So that’s if there’s a common thread through it all, that’s what it is, at times, that is simply about bad feelings toward one another between two employees.
Tim Nickel 5:25
So they’re having a, having a hard time supervisor doesn’t have the capacity or the or the background to do that kind of work, they don’t prefer it, or they’re involved themselves. And so they ask somebody from the outside to help out. Okay, conversation. So that’s one kind of thing. But it might also then be that the whole place is having troubles in workplaces of 30, or 50. And the whole place is, is really having a hard time with that with a negative culture or a toxic culture. And they need more in just discussions, they need to adjust their culture, they need to adjust their structure. And and so they need a bit of advice about that some development over time and a bunch of conversations, which is the hard part to people who are avoiding those conversations, and they need to help with some.
Barb McGrath 6:10
So okay, so comments on toxic culture, that’s very interesting to me, because changing culture, that’s not an overnight that goes back to the foundational way that the entire organization runs. And when you’re talking about 50 people, or even 500, people, like trying to impact change across that level, can you talk about, you know, without ever naming an organization, but can you talk about how that would support an organization and how you would need an organization through that?
Tim Nickel 6:43
Yeah, so yeah, it’s it, I think you’re really hitting the nail, on some of these, the head, some of the on some of these points, because it is it is really difficult to change a company, because the people who are in it, by definition, don’t, they don’t see their culture, they are the whole, exactly. And, and they’re not understanding how it functions. And it’s self supports. It’s a wide system that that if you try to fix one little bit of it, the rest of it will Will you leave the scene, the rest of it will force it to be themselves, you can even replace the people.
Tim Nickel 7:21
And they will return to the same culture unless you address the culture itself. So I can talk about one situation and more generically, I will name the organization but it was a public organization, sort of at arm’s length of the government. And they did have a highly negative culture. Way too, it was a number of different things. It took a strong leadership, it actually took changing legislation it took it took some lots of conversations, and, and a full change of their procedures and the way they functioned as an organization, and they mandated that they had, yeah, and, and so it took time, it took about three to four years and some really low work. Some people left the organization, while while this was going on, they just they were given it the digital in a good way.
Tim Nickel 8:18
And that they were they said, we’ll we’ll give everybody a chance to get on board with this. But people have it in their mind. They were they had a role in the old culture that’s that fed them, that them that their personality, that their role, their sense of identity was all wrapped up in the old culture. And they decided in the end to leave on unreasonably good terms, okay, to kind of tough, you know, tough kind of facing of the problem that over about two or three years that that place needed to make that kind of a change.
Barb McGrath 8:57
Right. So when I think about that kind of culture change that takes some real strength from leadership at all levels, both formal and informal. Yes. Because to buy into something like that, as you said, that’s a three and four year process, not something you’re going to fix by Christmas or spring. Yeah. And, you know, the unfortunate reality is when you go through something like that, people are going to leave, you’re going to lose good people that you count on, to be able to get to that better. And so from a leadership perspective, those are really tough decisions to make.
Tim Nickel 9:34
Yeah. And in that case, it is what I would recommend to all organizations is to have a sense of compassion through it all. It’s there’s the vulnerability of, of negative and toxic called conflict in in that sort of circumstance. And and it needs to be handled in a way that respects the dignity and identity of people so that if they if they do choose to leave that it’s choosing to leave There’s a landing pad that, that it’s done in the best way possible. And because there’s a temptation to say, Oh, well, you know, in with a little lack of lack of patience to say, I’m going to make the hard decisions, and this is just, I can’t be friends with everybody, and I’m just gonna, you know, fire people this way or that. Yep, there’s, there’s good ways to do this. And, yeah, and, and but no one way to do it. But there’s no one way to do it every situation is different.
Barb McGrath 10:31
Every situation, every business is different, there’s no such thing as a linear path to get to an outcome like you’re describing, right. And so organizations really have to buy in and build that buy in. So when you look at the majority of the work that you’re doing is that where your focus right now is organizationally?
Tim Nickel 10:52
Interested, you know what my business has gone through phases, it seems to go in about every year or two, sometimes a little bit quicker. And I have gone through phases of lots of that kind of work, that organizational internal work. Right now, I’m working a lot more on outer work, so and that that would be like public engagement, multi stakeholder engagement. So different organizations working together to a common goal, negotiating as peers in the community. That sort of thing is where I’m at right now. I’m not quite sure how that has evolved over that that time. But it’s, it’s it’s exciting work. It’s really the kind of work that I love to do.
Barb McGrath 11:35
So describe multi stakeholder collaboration for me, because that’s a lot of big words together. That it that’s what common language, so tell me about that work? Like, what are you actually doing?
Tim Nickel 11:46
Yeah, and I, I’m guarding against using some sort of lingo, you know, and because it’s, it’s just the words that have come over time to describe how there are a lot of complex problems, we call them wicked problems, or in society, environmental problems, community problems that are enormously complex. And there, there’s a temptation for parts of communities or organizations, or people who are in positions of like consultants, to think that, well, there’s a single answer, that there’s somebody one person with all the answers, you just have to find that expert, who just knows it all, there is no person like that, with for these kinds of problems.
Tim Nickel 12:32
They’re too complex. So what what needs to happen is that the people who are affected in it, and as broadly defined as possible, need to get together and, and find a way and to solve their problems together. And that can be difficult because often they’re at they’re at odds, and often they’re structurally at odds regulators and producers, for instance, in agricultural settings, yes. And that’s the way it should be. That’s the, that’s part of the project, but but they still need to talk, they still need to decide together, and, and the power balances need to be addressed. And, and, and the whole project moved forward in a good way, which, which is defined by the people themselves.
Barb McGrath 13:18
And in fact, it’s the power imbalance, that’s part of what you’re addressing, right? Not the power balance.
Tim Nickel 13:24
Yeah. So. So it would be recognized, first of all peoples, the influence that they have, and that’s it, in my work, in the early days of my work, just simply with mediation and that sort of thing, the idea of power was, was a bit touchy, people had kind of dogmatic or very sort of idealistic ways of thinking about power. People get power, it’s just, it’s just something that that they need to do, to get fired, like to get to serve their own or their or their family’s needs or their communities needs, they get the power that they need.
Tim Nickel 14:03
What’s important is to recognize that and to understand how it’s playing out, if, if somebody doesn’t have say, structural power, they’re not on the town council, or they’re not on the board of directors, they can find power, they can go to the media, they can, they can they can take legal action, they can influence the community, they can go to the coffee shop and spread rumors, there are ways that people get power. important to understand how that’s all going to happen into if you have power, to recognize that you need to, you need to use it in a good way so that people aren’t tempted to, to counter with their own version of power and have it go under underneath and go subterranean and, and, and turn into something that is that is more of like a war or a fight.
Barb McGrath 14:52
And you know, one of the interesting things that I see in society nowadays because social media is so prevalent, everybody has opinion. And we’ve all always had our opinions. But we’re seeing more and more people who are using the power of social media platform for negative for fake news for spreading, you know, rumors and myths truths versus kind of that the positive that that I think that originally it was intended for. And that’s unfortunate, because we’re, we’re seeing that so often, of course, we saw it with COVID. Here in Regina, we saw it with the wastewater treatment plant. Right, we we saw it was really significant issues. And, you know, if you don’t have the background, or you don’t understand these issues, sometimes it’s really easy to buy into that negative view, or that fake news. So…
Tim Nickel 15:51
Yeah, it’s, that’s a sticky problem. And no, it is, it is not. So in a small town, one of the citizens in the town or a pair might not like what’s going on, for whatever reason, and go on Facebook or Twitter and start undermining or even harassing somebody on council or whatever it might be. It takes, I think the problem is big enough that it’s going to have to take an evolution of our capacities as a, as a society to, to understand how to treat Well, I mean, you see a lot with fake news, for instance, or truth, or the idea of truth, and, and how there’s a lot of people who are in organizations that are trying to educate the public how to treat facts, and and opinion and distinguish between the two.
Tim Nickel 16:44
And if their sources and all that kind of thing. And then there’s also people’s reactions to say, a Facebook post or something like that, that end up being very reactive and personal. And you have to take that deep breath, and and be, be wise about your response, not inflamed and not simply react. Ultimately, I mean, it’s a new format, it’s very powerful. But it’s still it’s still people that people haven’t changed. And so you have to manage yourself in those moments. And yeah, boil down to self regulation and calm decision making.
Barb McGrath 17:28
So do you see more disputes arising, though, in the last, let’s just say even a decade? And and do you see some of these public platforms fueling that? Or have you seen a baseline in terms of dispute?
Tim Nickel 17:46
I would say it’s surprisingly little Actually, I’ll say it is a factor, it’s definitely a factor. And it makes, I would say that it makes conflicts at times more difficult to manage, not more conflicts, I wouldn’t say it, there’s, there’s too many factors to be able to really pin it on any one thing like that, there’s, I would say that people are more are facing their conflicts in a more productive kind of way.
Tim Nickel 18:15
They’re increasing their capacity for conflict. And so they’re actually saying, Hey, we need to talk. Whereas maybe 30 years ago, it would have gone untended. And it looks like that nobody would have admitted it. And there were problems that that undermine all sorts of function in a system or, or in a community. And people feel bad and nobody’s dealing with it. These days, I think people are, are facing it a bit more. And it’s good to see that people are recognizing that if you if you face the conflict, it works. In fact, really, my business is all about finding ways to make conflict good. systems and communities can’t function without conflict. Exactly. function well without conflict.
Barb McGrath 18:59
Yeah. And I’m a huge believer in that you conflict can actually be healthy. And I have said that numerous times throughout my career, both in the corporate world as well as the entrepreneur world. And it’s much more acceptable in the entrepreneur world. Because conflict is, you know, what created the Googles and the apples of the world, where organizationally, when you propose something like that, you always get, you know, banned back to the back room or something, because there’s fear of conflict so many times in organizations, and you need that tension. Because that’s, of course, how you grow as an organization.
Barb McGrath 19:36
Yeah, it’s, it’s a bit of an ongoing joke around my house because my, my husband is very much that old style where Yeah, just sweep it under the rug, and it’ll go away and you don’t forget. And I always joke with him. I’m like, Well, how do you even walk on that rug anymore? Like That thing is? So yeah, we all have our means of coping and things like that. Kids. Sorry, if you have kids,
Tim Nickel 20:04
Barb McGrath 20:07
Totally different direction. No. And the reason I asked that question just going back to, you know, mistruths and fake news. So my kids are preteens right now. And when I first there on the net, and they have to be there for school, and then there’s a bit of recreation time on the net, as well. And, you know, we’re really trying to help them understand fake news, misinformation. And, and I think it’s going to be a fascinating psychological study, you probably see this too, when we look at this generation of youth until also preteen in high school. And we look at the impact that some of the leadership styles internationally are going to have on culture and beliefs around leadership, fake news, like I think that is just going to be absolutely fascinating. And then add the COVID layer in there with COVID as well. So I don’t know, like…
Tim Nickel 21:10
I have a clear memory of Saturday morning. And my younger son, who is a late teen, had his friends over it was during the George Floyd. Black Lives Matter issues, and they were up in arms, oh, they and they were all there. I think I remember three or four of them in the house, they were all just appeal to their phones. And you should see their faces when they came up with a new alarming video or statement.
Tim Nickel 21:44
And, and so and of course, you know, there’s a ton of legitimacy to that whole to the, to the proponents of the in the spirit of Black Lives Matter and all those sorts of things. Yet, you can see something happening in the eyes of these teenagers as they, they they found something sensational to gas back. They actually gasped collectively when they found something. And and so I mean, I had a long morning talking with him about this and having some counter counter influence to this influence of their phones. Were Okay, so what part of what you’re hearing is legitimate, how much of it is even true? How much less? How much is it telescoped all into you know, in time? So to make it more sensational look? And and what’s the legitimacy of the news source? And how much does it represent? And whose interest is it representing all kinds of things that they the questions that they weren’t asking? I think it is one of the primary tasks of parents, but educators have to educate these incredibly astute youth
Barb McGrath 22:55
Exactly how much information
Tim Nickel 22:59
They know so much. And but they need discipline around this stuff. And they need they need guidance around it. Because they will have, they’re going to be facing far more complex problems than we even are whoever they you know, and they need to have the skills to do it. And and they they have a lot of they know so much more, but they need that discipline to manage this, this barrage of information and influence. It’s not just information. It’s influence everybody’s influence everybody else.
Barb McGrath 23:34
Yes. Yes. That’s, I mean, that’s absolutely the key behind social media is how do I influence you to see things my way? When we look at the foundations of social media? Of course, it was, you know, connect with friends and family. And now it’s much more about influence. There’s paid influencers, right, it hasn’t really started Yeah.
Tim Nickel 23:56
And entities that have that, that instinct for for best savvy approach to the world, which these young people do. But to really get to another level of of motive underneath it, to be able to say that I am being fed something that feels good. Somebody is benefiting from that. Mostly advertisers and and Facebook and Twitter and all these companies that are making enormous amounts of money on my gasps of alarm.
Barb McGrath 24:25
Yes, exactly. So Tam, as per usual, I’ve lost track of time. So we have about a minute. Sure. tell our audience how they would find you find business consulting and find your social channels.
Tim Nickel 24:39
Yeah, sure. They can. The easiest way is to go to my website, fifth business consulting.ca. And, and there’s there’s a contact page on there. They can they can even email me. They can also email me directly Tim.nickel at fifth business consulting.ca. So pretty easy to remember. Nicole like the coin, and, and that’s the main thing, I do have a Facebook page for my family mediation work. And they can they can do that they can just google family mediation and Tim Nicole or business any one of them will get Get, get them toward me. And and then they can they can talk things through. I’m very willing. I put in a lot of hours talking to people just about their lives. Sometimes it turns into business and the job but other times, it’s just to give some advice or just to connect. There’s lots of that that goes on in my work. So feel free to give me a call anytime.
Barb McGrath 25:36
Hey, that sounds awesome. So thank you for being here today and talking about fifth business consulting and the work that you’re doing. It sounds like your global vision is clearly in sight. And I look forward to watching that happen.
Tim Nickel 25:49
Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk to you. But
Barb McGrath 25:52
Absolutely. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb at Google girl.ca or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Above the Fold. ca just a reminder, you can submit questions in advance of our live show on our Facebook page. And unfortunately, we’re not live yet but hopefully soon. I’m your hosts Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember you are charged for your success. Don’t keep it a secret
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Our guest today has a very special skill.
A mediator and conciliator at heart, Tim Nickel is the owner/operator of Fifth Business Consulting. From mediating family disputes to facilitating the development of business strategy, Tim has a knack for helping others achieve win-win solutions.
A vision we can all support, he aims to create a more ethical, resilient and highly developed global civilization. No one will accuse him of being short sighted!
Connect with Tim @ Fifth Business Consulting
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