What We Do
Prevention and early resolution of conflict is only part of what we offer
Coaching and facilitation
When people get into conflict situations or fear that they are about to encounter conflict, especially at work and in business dealings with other people, they often do not know how to communicate.
We offer onsite professional coaching and guidance to managers, executives, business partners and others so that they feel less stressed about conflict and feel more capable of dealing with it in a constructive and collaborative way.
When seen as required or helpful, we can also “chair” and facilitate the difficult conversations that must occur.
When healthy disagreements have turned into unhealthy conflict, either because coaching and informal facilitation has either not been tried or has been unsuccessful, we offer our services as mediators to the parties, with the process tailored according to the nature of the dispute and the individual circumstances and wishes of the people involved.
Mediation (especially early mediation) can diffuse potentially volatile and relationship damaging situations and truly “resolve” (not just “settle”) disputes.
Even if unsuccessful it will usually result in greater clarity about the real issues and minimise the need for (and scope of) a formal investigation.
It is sometimes necessary – especially in a workplace context – that a prompt and thorough investigation to be conducted into allegations made by employees against fellow employees, managers or the organisation.
We conduct such investigations in a prompt and cost effective way, onsite (unless special circumstances suggest this is not advisable) with a short or comprehensive written report then being provided, depending on the needs and wishes of the management of the organisation.
The process ends with a thorough debriefing of management about the matter, and recommendations or advice about “where to from here”.
We conduct audits that involve the gathering and analysis of objective data within an organisation so as to provide a reliable guide as to the level of effective communication both within that organisation and with its clients or customers.
This includes a close consideration of the level and nature of employee complaints/grievances, the incidence of sick leave and of stress related workers compensation claims, staff turnover levels (and causes) - including the evaluation of exit interviews - and the frequency of contested terminations.
The audits also give close consideration to the annual expenditure on external lawyers engaged to resolve internal or external disputes and the reasons for engaging them.
The Management of Strata Disputes
By 2050, it is estimated that 50% of Australians will be living in apartments and it is obvious that concerted efforts need to be made to ensure that large numbers of people “living under the same roof” are able to “get along” and to manage the inevitable disagreements that do occur in a constructive way to prevent their escalation into unhealthy and costly disputes and litigation.
Whilst each State in Australia has its own government operated strata dispute resolution service and administrative tribunals and courts to determine strata disputes that cannot otherwise be resolved by agreement, there has been growing disaffection with the adequacy and effectiveness of those mediation services and with the quality of the decisions made by the various courts and tribunals that deal with strata disputes and the significant financial and time costs associated with these “court processes”.
The additional difficulty is that third party determination necessarily creates “winners and losers” amongst people seeking to have an ongoing, day by day relationship – as “strata mates” (only one small step removed from being “housemates”).
With a view to maximising harmony and minimising unhealthy conflict, we have, in conjunction with others, established the Strata Communication and Resolution Centre (“SCRC”: see www.stratacrc.com.au) that is designed to be a one stop shop for the management and early resolution of all the disagreements and disputes that occur in strata buildings, whether they be between strata owners/tenants, disputes between unit holders and the owners corporation or disputes between the owners corporation and third parties (including developers and builders etc).
Lessons Learned - Reviews
Organisations, managers and individuals know most about the dispute that they have just litigated, settled or otherwise managed at that point in time when the matter appears to be “over” or closed.Accordingly, this is undoubtedly the best time for the participants to reflect on how the dispute arose in the first place, what lessons had been learned from the dispute and what steps can be taken to minimise the prospect that disputes of this nature will occur again.
However experience reveals that post dispute review processes are the exception rather than the rule – either because the participants are truly “over it”, do not see the value for the future of any review of the past and/or because they lack insight about the contribution of cultural, organisational or relational/communication shortcomings (especially their own) that contributed to the escalation of the dispute in the first place.Hence, too often valuable lessons that can and should be learned from disputes are not learned – a major lost opportunity.
Whether or not we have been involved in helping to manage and resolve the dispute, we facilitate post dispute review processes for organisations, so that they know “what went wrong” and what can be done better in the future to minimise the reoccurrence of such disputes.
We call for the key documents associated with the dispute including any decisions made by courts or tribunals with respect to it and then we facilitate a conversation at the workplace with the managers, in-house counsel, HR managers and any other key personnel who were involved in the dispute from the beginning to the end.
Having an outsider chairing such meetings not only serves to ensure that they are a collaborative, future focused exercise rather than a “name and blame” session but also provides the value associated within gaining an honest and independent appraisal of how the dispute was managed.
Max and his associates can deliver training in communication and conflict resolution skills, can design and implement tailor-made conflict resolution systems and can provide legal advice about employment and/or business relationship issues.
However, we recommend other professionals to provide such assistance, should we consider that they would be better suited to assist the organisation in a timely and cost effective way.
Who We Are
A business founded by Max Kimber, SC
Max Kimber Communication
Max Kimber Communication is a business focused on preventing unhealthy conflict from developing and on the early resolution of conflict that cannot be prevented.
Accordingly, one if its primary goals is to assist organisations to recognise and accept that effective communication is the key not only to maximising workplace productivity and harmony, but also to the minimisation of serious and costly conflict – and then to provide the necessary communication training.
The consultancy also provides maximum value to organisations by facilitating the implementation of change following communication audits or through its early involvement with the management of internal problems with employees in the workplace or external problems in its commercial dealings with third parties.
The goal is provide prompt and effective action when there is a “smell of smoke” so as to minimise the prospect of a serious fire or - if fire has already broken out, to take appropriate action to “extinguish” it, before it causes major relational and financial damage.
The principal of Max Kimber Communication is Max Kimber SC, who has been involved in prevention, management and resolution of conflict for more than 35 years, during which time he has provided advice and representation to thousands of employers and employees (and to their representative bodies), State and Federal Government departments and government owned enterprises.
He has worked across Australia and in most industries, and has gained particular expertise in the Health industry, providing a broad range of services to both public and private health agencies.
The focus of Max’s career has been the “world of work” wherein he has developed expertise in all facets of employment and industrial law as well as the effective management of employment and broader workplace issues.His contribution has been via the provision of advice, the investigation of complaints, provision of assistance with negotiation, executive coaching and the facilitation of difficult conversations, conciliation, mediation, arbitration and litigation in federal and state courts and tribunals.
Max trained as a mediator in 1993 and since then he has increasingly embraced the value of alternative dispute resolution processes to manage and resolve conflicts and sees litigation as a costly and too often unsatisfactory option that should only be utilised as a last resort.
Max has the distinct advantage of being able to draw on and utilise his extensive knowledge of the law as well as on his training and experience in ADR and effective communication, when viewing any problem – such that he is acutely aware that most workplace conflicts are not best dealt with as legal problems with “rights based” solutions but rather as relationship and communication problems to be resolved by the parties based on a clear understanding of their common, as well as their separate, needs and "interests".
Max sees himself as a “resolutionary” who has a unique and valuable mixture of skills and experience that enables him to add real value in the management and resolution of workplace and commercial disputes. He communicates easily with all people from the shop floor to the boardroom.
Max has assembled a panel of like-minded professionals to ensure the delivery of the promise of this business.
Max’s qualifications and training include: B Comm/LLB, University of New South Wales, Master of Laws, University of Virginia, Mediator Training, LEADR (1993) and LEADR Advanced Mediation Training (1994).He is an accredited (Experienced) Mediator, National Standards for Accreditation of Mediators.
Who's Talking About Us
Testimonials from our valued clients
Managing Director, McElroy Bryan Geological Services
Thank you Max for your expertise, personal skills and generosity of time in providing executive coaching to our management team in dispute resolution and effective communication skills. Your advice and professional coaching meant that in practice we were able to diffuse a potential conflict through early intervention. Thanks to your assistance we were able to elicit and better understand the concerns and needs of all stakeholders, then implement a structured process whereby these were openly discussed and considered, which led to a positive and amicable outcome. This process has highlighted to me the benefit of early involvement in dispute resolution to help prevent miscommunication and escalation of issues.
We are very grateful for your help and support, and will be in touch should we need your professional assistance in the future.
Rev Prof Andrew Dutney
President, Uniting Church in Australia
Max Kimber SC was recommended to me to facilitate the resolution of an ongoing conflict involving members of the senior Executive Staff in one region of the Church. He was able to negotiate a process that did not involve lawyers being engaged by either side. Max spoke to all affected parties and then designed a process to suit the circumstances and the Church’s goals.
Max demonstrated a remarkable ability to quickly develop a clear understanding not only of the Constitution and Regulations of the Church, but also our corporate culture. He quickly built trust with all the affected parties and was able to understand the conflict from their different perspectives. He designed a process that was fair and respectful of all the parties, and also finely tuned to achieve an outcome acceptable to each of them and an end to the specific conflict. I found him to be highly experienced and skilled, professional and personable – an excellent collaborator in the very difficult situation that I was seeking to have resolved. I would have no hesitation in using Max again in such a situation or in recommending him to others as a mediator.
Partner, Accredited specialist - employment & industrial law
Employment, Safety & People, Maddocks
Over the years I have recommended and engaged Max Kimber SC as a preferred and experienced mediator in a wide range of complex and challenging executive and workplace dispute matters for my large corporate and government clients. Max’s experience as an eminent and respected senior member of the independent Bar assists parties and their legal representatives being very comfortable with Max as the agreed mediator for the job. His personable and no-nonsense approach converts to an ease of business in the planning and engagement stages for mediation assignments. Max’s excellent rapport with parties from all walks of life, coupled with his well-honed mediation skills, help parties get to the real heart of disputes, sometimes without them realising that Max has facilitated the understanding - always a sign of a good mediator. Max has worked hard to make sure that a commercial, practicably workable and binding solution can be reached and my clients and I have always found his services professional, reliable, good value and satisfying.
Principal, Laxon Lex Lawyers
In the countless mediations that I have been part of over many years, with all manner of mediators (retired judges, senior and junior counsel, registrars, career mediators), I have found no one to be more effective at resolving disputes than Max Kimber SC. Max is very good to work with, assiduous in his preparation, interventionist with his approach and completely across the relevant issues in dispute, with his sole objective being to get an acceptable outcome for the parties, something that in my experience he is very good at achieving. With Max as mediator, my clients feel completely involved as part of the solution, rather than alienated from the process.
Managing Principal, People +Culture Strategies
I would have no hesitation in commending the services of Max Kimber as a mediator of any disputes in the workplace relations arena. In my view, effective mediation requires persistence and a genuine commitment to assist the parties to resolve their differences: attributes that Max has displayed in every mediation in which I have had him involved. Importantly, Max has an ability to get across the issues in sufficient depth while not allowing the mediation to become "bogged down” in that detail. His willingness to express a view is also greatly appreciated by clients and practitioners alike.
Partner, Baker & McKenzie
We find Max to be a most effective mediator, who demonstrates a particular capacity to understand complex employment and industrial relations issues. His persistence and unfailing politeness in often difficult circumstances has been demonstrated in a variety of private and Court appointed mediations. We have no difficulty in recommending Max as a mediator.
Partner, Sparke Helmore Lawyers
I have been involved in a number of disputes mediated by Max Kimber and have no hesitation in recommending him to others. Max, as a mediator, stands out to me in the preparation he makes before the formal mediation; seeking to fully understand the position from which both parties are coming before the mediation commences and taking the time to understand the issues currently in play preventing resolution. During mediation Max demonstrates an appropriate gravitas which lends weight to the process and skilfully explores all avenues to bring the parties to an agreed resolution. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
Partner, Accredited Specialist in Commercial Litigation
I highly recommend Mr Kimber as a mediator. I have used him in the context of industrial law matters and also in a defamation matter. He has a very ‘down to earth’ approach with lay clients, strong acumen and an ability to get to the heart of the core issues quickly. He successfully mediated my matters including one that he continued to assist the parties with from his chambers over a series of days after the mediation, and by making himself available to continue the discussions in this way, he was instrumental in resolving a 5 year dispute that had very little prospects of resolving. My clients were equally impressed with him. I look forward to continuing to engage him in the future
Partner, K & L Gates
Max Kimber of Senior Counsel practised historically in industrial relations. In that field conciliation in each and every case is mandatory. Max learnt early the advantage to parties in the early settlement of differences by agreement. Litigation is a very expensive and inefficient means of dispute resolution.
As Max's practice at the bar expanded he has continued to advocate early, and if possible, pre litigation intervention of this kind. In my practice I have most recently engaged Max to successfully mediate a dispute between joint venturers with a 20 year history; litigating that history was avoided.
Max was my first choice, and that of my opponent in mediating before the commencement of proceedings, a class action by 23 franchisees in a federal government owned corporation with a national reach. Each claimant had similar but different claims. All claims were resolved on a template negotiated at that mediation and on terms where the business relationship was preserved for those franchisees choosing to remain in the system.
Max is an excellent choice as a mediator, he is passionate about facilitating early settlement opportunities including if possible to avoid escalation into litigation.
I am happy to expand upon these comments as required.