Managing Your Inevitable Workplace Conflicts
Pete Tosh is Founder of The Focus Group, a management consulting and training firm that assists organizations in sustaining profitable growth through four core disciplines:
- Implementing Strategic HR Initiatives: Executive Search, Conducting HR Department Audits, Enhancing Recruiting, Interviewing & Selection Processes, Installing Performance Management Programs, Conducting Training Needs Assessments, Installing HR Metrics, etc.
- Maximizing Leadership Effectiveness: Facilitating Team Building Initiatives, Designing and Facilitating 360 Performance Assessments, Executive Coaching, Measuring and Enhancing Employee Engagement and Performance, etc.
- Strategic Planning: Facilitating Strategic Planning Events, Establishing Succession Plans, Installing Business Performance Metrics, etc.
- Enhancing Customer Loyalty: Conducting Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Facilitating Customer Advisory Councils, Developing Standards of Performance and Scripts for Key Customer TouchPoints, etc.
The Focus Group has provided these consulting and training services to manufacturing and service organizations across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Pete has worked closely with the leadership teams of organizations such as Exxon, Brinks, EMC, State Farm, Marriott, N.C.I. YKK and Freddie Mac.
Prior to founding his own firm 25 years ago, Pete had 15 years of experience — at the plant, divisional and corporate levels — in Human Resource and Quality functions. Pete held leadership positions — including the V.P. of Human Resources and Quality — with Allied Signal, Imperial Chemical Industries, Reynolds Metals, Charter Medical, and Access Integrated Networks.
Pete also frequently develops and facilitates a variety of leadership development programs including Strategic Planning, Moving from an Operational Manager to a Strategic Leader, Strategic HR Management, The Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, Recruiting, Interviewing & Selection, Employment Law and Utilizing HR Metrics. Employees from over 3,000 organizations have benefited from Pete’s experience and perspective. Pete is co-author of Leading Your Organization to the Next Level: the Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth.
Pete holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Emory and Henry College and Master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Industrial Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Functional organizational conflict:
- Is constructive, healthy and cooperative
- Is when the parties are talking and focused on achieving a mutually acceptable outcome
- Generates new perspectives and ideas
- Allows options to be debated
- Enables Individuals and teams to grow
- A component of high-performing teams
During functional conflicts we feel:
- Full of ideas
Dysfunctional Organizational Conflict
- Generates little if any benefit to the parties
- Negatively impacts the well-being of the parties and organization
- Hijacks time, energy and trust
During dysfunctional conflicts we feel:
Ineffective approaches to managing conflicts include:
- Ignoring it and hoping it will go away
- Not discussing the issues objectively
- Premature judgments/conclusions
- Using intimidation and inappropriate use of power
These ineffective approaches are triggered by four universal, instinctive responses to conflict:
- Fight: confront the issue and stand our ground
- Flight: run away and fight another day
- Freeze: do nothing and wait to see what happens
- Fall: yield and give in
However, effective leaders and negotiators know when and how to utilize each of five conflict resolution strategies:
- Waiting and Avoiding – ‘The Turtle’
- Accommodating – ‘The Teddy Bear’
- Using Power – ‘The Shark’
- Compromising – ‘The Fox’
- Collaborating – ‘The Owl’
I. Managing Conflicts with Individuals
- What is interpersonal conflict?
- What causes conflict?
- Functional vs. dysfunctional conflict
- Words that lead to conflicts
- Resolving conflicts by asking questions
- Our four instinctive responses to conflicts
- Five conflict resolution strategies
- Managing conflict with the AEIOU model
i) How to resolve conflicts by separating:
- Solutions from the problem
- Commonalities from differences
- Future from the past
- Negotiation from emotions
- Process from content
- Options from preferences
ii) How collaboration:
- Is more pleasurable and respectful
- Can produce better abn longer-lasting results
- Builds relationships
- Encourages learning
- Inspires novel thinking and ideas
iii) Tips for Collaborating During a Conflict
- Recognize that conflict can be a positive experience
- Try to see the issues from the other party’s point-of-view
- Focus on satisfying both parties’ interests vs. defending your position
- Commit to resolving the underlying issues
- Speak with clarity and without judgment
- Seek alternatives that are focused on shared interests
II. Managing Conflicts within Teams
- Functional Conflict is a Component of High-Performance Teams and Organizations
- Utilizing the Action Planning Conflict Resolution Process which:
- Obtains from the participants their proposals for resolving the issues causing the conflict
- Then facilitates the participants discussing their proposals, developing and implementing an action plan to resolve the conflict
- Benefits of the Action Planning Conflict Resolution Process:
- Issues addressed are current and of the highest priority to the participants
- All participants have an equal voice in the process throughout each step creating maximum participation, buy-in and ownership
- Maximum candor since names are not associated with the participants’ responses
- Saves meeting time by being able to immediately display and begin discussing the participants’ proposals
- Results in an action plan - that has a ‘life’ after the planning meeting - with accountabilities and deadlines for addressing the issues
III. Action Planning Conflict Resolution Process Steps:
- Identifying the issues causing the conflict
- Obtaining the participants’ proposed initiatives for resolving each issue
- In a planning meeting:
- Reviewing and discussing the anonymous proposals
- Developing an action plan with team accountabilities and deadlines
- Implementing the action plan in teams
- Evaluating the results of the action plan
Course Level - Intermediate
Who Should Attend
Any employee – Manager or Non-Supervisory
Why Should You Attend
Interpersonal conflict occurs daily when:
- We perceive that someone is impeding on or threatening our needs or goals
- Two or more persons seek to possess the same object, resource, position
- People maintain incompatible goals, values, or motives
Conflicts can be caused by differences in:
- Information - do we have the same data?
- Perceptions - do we see things from different backgrounds and experiences?
- Roles/priorities - do we have different status or positions which causes us to take a different stand?
- Relationships/assumptions - do we have the trust level needed to address the issue?
Conflict is a product of our uniqueness and so it is inevitable - its absence would be abnormal. Some kinds of conflict can contribute to the health and well-being of an organization. Other kinds of conflict can be detrimental to an organization and/or its employees, but a conflict is only one component of a relationship. Often, we are not in conflict with the other person but with that component. Success is addressing that component vs. attacking the other person or defending our ego.