Conflict Resolution

Image result for too hot too cold just right

We consult with individuals and work groups to alleviate chronic dysfunctional conflict.

Our approach is to find a way to increase the discussability of issues both obvious and subtle that are involved in the conflict cycle.  The process works best with clear pre-intervention contracting and strong management support for resolution.  The earlier the intervention the better the opportunity for productive resolution.  The underlying issues can be personal styles or structural–or most often both. We do not consider “papering over” the issues via suppression for temporary respite to be a productive resolution.

Many persons believe that conflict is always a “bad thing.” That is, pretty much any visible sign of conflict, especially in a business setting, is too much. We, however, believe that the rules of organizational conflict best follows Goldilocks’ search for the proper temperature of porridge.

  • Too much conflict can cause serious business problems. It is the reason that we are most often called upon for conflict resolution.  Often an executive has observed for a while or participated in repetitive open feuds among and within pairs, small groups or departments.  Usually there’s a “we’ve had it” moment prior to our engagement.
    • Work groups with too much conflict are often dramatic and hot with distrust and hostility.  Discomfort is usually felt by all,  not just the active participants.
    • Continuous  escalation of the conflict is to be expected.
    • Work group decisions and processes are likely to be based on poor or misleading info, business workarounds, and low commitment to outcomes.
    • Too much conflict often thrives where mistrust has emerged out of unrecognized common goals, unsettled roles and procedures.
  • Too little conflict can also cause serious business problems.
    • The group culture can feel sterile or cold.
    • Accordingly, business decisions are made based on inadequate real information, analysis, or challenge to myths.
    • Repressed conflict can also reduce commitment to the organization, especially for those that feel unheard.
    • Inadequate conflict thrives where differences are either known and thought to be undiscussable; suppressed and out of awareness; or, less often, based on lack of  personal diversities.
  • Productive conflict (that is “just right”) can provide significant benefits to a business.
    • The group culture can feel lively and spirited but without the drama.
    • Differences are encouraged to be explored–undiscussables are kept to a minimum.
    • Common interests dominate the problem-solving process; decisions are sought to provide mutual benefits.
    • Conflicting interests are known and outcomes discussed to seek creative alternatives.