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Edition 004

Learning Tree
Management Insights
Expert Advice from Today’s Top Professionals
How to Respond to Conflict ...
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Conflict Resolution, 6 Simple Steps


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Responding to conflict is often intimidating and can result in avoidance until it reaches extreme levels. In this edition of Management Insights, Cheryl Eckl presents a 6-step process to deal with conflict early on and to properly reach a collaborative resolution that is satisfying to each of the parties involved.

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Conflict Resolution, 6 Simple Steps

  1. 1. Edition 004 Learning Tree Management Insights Expert Advice from Today’s Top Professionals How to Respond to Conflict A Case Study Effectively and Achieve a Mark is the vice president of sales at a successful information technology company with an assistant, Lasting Resolution Shirley, who has worked for him for several years. (in Six Simple Steps!) Because Mark is on the road frequently, he has to explain to Shirley what he wants done before Conflict is unavoidable. Unfortunately, conflict leaving. However, Shirley still calls Mark on the road is often frightening as well, so the result is that frequently, asking for instructions. Even with those many people avoid dealing with it until it reaches telephone interventions, Mark finds that he has to extreme levels. However, if dealt with early on and correct Shirley’s work when he returns. Mark wants properly, a collaborative resolution can be achieved to fire Shirley but avoids doing that because she is so that is satisfying—and even enhancing—to each of well liked, not only by Mark but also by the rest of the the parties involved. This is true even for personal staff. conflicts where it seems almost inevitable that someone is going to lose, be hurt or both. While it might seem impossible, a simple six-step process enabled Mark and Shirley to achieve a lasting resolution they are both happy with. Cheryl Eckl Successfully Engaging Your Audience Using a Five-Step Targeted Presentation MethodTotalPros, Inc. This month in Management Insights, personal coach and professional facilitator Cheryl Eckl provides readers with a recipe for conflict resolution that, when followed correctly, delivers a positive outcome for all parties involved. 1-800-843-8733 CALL OR VISIT
  2. 2. Learning Tree Edition 004 Management Insights Expert Advice from Today’s Top Professionals Responding to Conflict Applying the Process wanted to improve her skills so that environment would be more beneficial to all. However, if Shirley improved her ability Step 1: Begin with Me. In any conflict situation, both to work proactively without frequent calls to Mark, her daily parties must begin by asking some personal questions: What interaction with Mark would decrease. In their meeting, Mark am I feeling about this situation? What have I contributed and Shirley made two lists on a whiteboard that expressed what to the conflict? What do I believe about this situation? You each of them would prefer in a supervisor/assistant relationship can begin answering these questions by identifying the and looked for shared interests. The top interest they shared Facts, Patterns and Consequences that are involved. In this was a desire to work with someone who had a similar working particular case, Mark was frustrated by the recurring pattern style. With this information, they were ready to move on to of giving Shirley an assignment, getting calls from her for resolving the issue. directions, and having to provide additional guidance, a Step 5: You Say You Want a Resolution. Once all process that also left Shirley upset. The consequences were the parties understand their shared interests, they can generate poor results, lost productivity for both Mark and Shirley, and options to help each other achieve those interests. Along with resentment from her co-workers who often had to help out the critical element of Rewards, the Priorities, Outcomes and Shirley. Interests of each individual must be acknowledged. In this Step 2: Diagnosing the Problem. Often, even the case, Mark and Shirley generated options to help each other parties involved don’t understand why the conflict exists. This achieve those interests. The option that worked out for them is where it’s important to understand everyone’s Perspectives. turned out to be a receptionist/assistant position opening in In this case, both Mark and Shirley were frustrated with the the HR department. This position would give Shirley the human other’s behaviour. Surprisingly, Shirley had great fondness interaction she wanted and excelled at. Mark now knew what for Mark and wanted to continue working for him. Therefore, skills and temperament were paramount for his assistant and this conflict is actually about two people with contradictory could provide HR with a better description of what he needed work styles, very different comfort zones, and an inability to for Shirley’s replacement. Now all that was left to do was… communicate their preferences. Mark’s priority was results; Step 6: Formalize the Agreement. In the final step, Shirley’s was relationships. What she needed was a job that all parties participate in creating a contract that describes any included lots of personal interaction. Regardless of what further action items, their roles and responsibilities, the terms Mark said about his affection for Shirley, what he wanted of success, and the consequences for nonperformance. This was as little interaction as possible. As is often the case, the contract should include follow-up procedures should conflicts disconnect between stated outcomes and actual interests was arise again. unconscious, making it even more difficult for either party to change. The diagnosis made it possible for Mark and Shirley to Finalizing the agreement was easy for Mark and Shirley: Mark move on to the next step… was able to thank Shirley for her hard work and offered a letter of recommendation that would help her in any future Step 3: Making It Safe to Cooperate. Both parties job search. They agreed that their subsequent interactions involved must give up any interest in revenge or in hurting would be friendlier (Mark), more professional (Shirley) and that the other person. Part of ‘making it safe’ can include having they both could help each other understand the perspective the parties meet in a safe environment with a neutral referee. of co-workers with different working styles. They could even Once Mark understood that Shirley wasn’t being malicious, congratulate each other on doing what few people are willing he let go of his frustration and stopped blaming her. Shirley to do: Work through a conflict situation to find common ground understood she needed a manager who valued her skills, not and achieve a satisfying resolution for both of them. a whole new skill set. They both became genuinely interested in finding Shirley a new position where she could succeed. The two met in a neutral space (a conference room) with a facilitator to brainstorm options for a creative solution. About the Author Step 4: Making the Connection. This step enables Cheryl Eckl is a facilitator, speaker and personal coach. Her company, all parties to understand how their individual problems are TotalPros, Inc., works with individuals and teams to achieve creative related and how they share interests. Here we also identify solutions for both interpersonal and business problems. She is author of the Meanings behind actions and emotions. Shirley said she Learning Tree’s course 904, “Responding to Conflict” and coauthor of course 244, “Assertiveness Skills.” 1-800-843-8733 CALL OR VISIT 0812CA Mgmt Insights_Edition 004