Conflict Management Toolkit University of Mary Washington
Table of Contents • Determining the current level of conflict level in my work life (self-assessment) • Determining my conflict style (self assessment) • Resolving a conflict with one other person • Resolving a group conflict. • Supervisor’s role in resolving employee conflict • The art of disciplining employees (for supervisors) • The role of HR in conflict resolution • Listing of informal and formal conflict resolution processes • Conflict Management Reference list • Supervisor Network: “Share your wealth of experience”
Determining the level of conflict in my life Conflict Management Toolkit Part I
Determining the source of conflict At times you may sense conflict at work, but not know exactly why. The conflict self-assessment will help you to pinpoint the specific area in which you are experiencing conflict so that you can begin to resolve it. The areas addressed are supervisor, self, peers, employees, and productivity.
What is my conflict style? Conflict Management Toolkit Part II
Conflict Style • Not only is it important to know what relationship or situation is causing conflict in our life, but it is also important to look at how we normally resolve conflict (our natural inclination). • We must then decide whether we are satisfied with our current approach or if we would like to change it in some way to improve our effectiveness at conflict resolution.
Style Explanation As you discovered through the conflict resolution assessment, our natural inclinations usually place us into one of these styles. • Avoiding • Accommodating • Compromising • Competing • Collaborating
Style Explanation • Avoiding Style (-,-) • If I ignore the problem, it will go away • If I confront the problem, I may hurt someone’s feelings • Why bother… it won’t change anything • Accommodating (-,+) • It’s easier to just give in and give them what they want • You will be better liked if you just agree • By letting the other person win this time, you will win next time… you have to pick your battles.
Style Explanation • Compromising Style (-,-) • It’s only fair because then neither of us get what we want. • Both parties are on an even playing field • We can choose to give up something we really don’t need, thereby winning. • Competing Style (+,-) • I’m right and you’re wrong • There is only one solution • Collaborating (+,+) • We can find a solution that works for both of us. • By asking the other person’s perspective, I can understand them. • Once we find a common ground, we can work from there.
Conflict Style If you find yourself adopting a conflict style that you’re not happy about… • Analyze why you have adopted that style. • Develop some simple action steps that will help you break your habit. • Read on for helpful tips that will guide you through various conflict situations.
One-to-one Conflict Conflict Management Toolkit Part VI
If you want to constructively resolve a conflict with another person… • FIRST, get into the right frame of mind for a positive discussion, always remembering to treat the other person with respect • SECOND, agree on the best time and place for both of you to discuss the conflict with each other. • THIRD, Set some ground rules. • FOURTH, have a discussion.
Step 1: Adopt the right frame of mind
The Approach When you are ready to approach the other person remember to: • Go in with the right attitude • Send positive non-verbal signals • Focus on the real issues • Pay attention to communication style
Leave Behind… Your desire to win, punish, or control Your desire that everything be “fair” Your assumption that it won’t work Your tendency to think in “black and white”, “right or wrong” Your determination to be right. Take With You… A willingness to work at this An understanding that “perception is reality” both for you and those around you. A willingness to learn from the situation A willingness to see and acknowledge your own contribution to the problem. Your Attitude
Be aware of your nonverbal signals: • 7 % of the words used; • 38% on voice quality; and • 55% on nonverbal communication Others impression of you is based on:
Focus on underlying Issues • What happened? • Difference in expectations: • What did I expect to happen?; What actually happened? Who did what? • Intention inventory (Who meant what?) • Feelings • Don’t ignore or fail to acknowledge • Feelings make relationships enjoyable and difficult conversations difficult (can’t have one without the other!) • Identity • Must face ourselves as well as other person • Am I competent?; Am I a good person?; Am I worthy of love?
Communication Tips • Avoid“you” statements • Focus on behavior, not employee • Focus on actions, not intent • Be descriptive and specific(bring data) • Practice activelistening skills • Ask open and closed questionsto clarify points
Step 2: Consider time factors
Be Timely: talk to the other person while the issues are still current Anger and negative feelings tend to fester if not dealt with quickly!!
Consider the other person’s time needs • Don’t interrupt the other person’s schedule and state that you need to talk • Agree on a time to meet with the other person and inform him/her of the topic. • Give him/her time to prepare mentally.
Step 3: Set some ground rules!
3 “Golden” Rules • Everyone tells it like they see it. • Get everything on the table. • Focus on the future.
Sample Rules for discussion In addition to general rules, it is helpful to agree on how you will talk with each other • No interruptions • No yelling • Time limit on certain topics of discussion • Words to avoid • Agreement on what to do if you can’t agree ahead of time
Step 4: The Actual Discussion
The Actual Conversation • Define the conflict. • Communicate understanding. • Explore alternative solutions. • Agree on most workable solution. • Evaluate after time.
Define the Conflict • Describe the problem in clear, concrete terms. Be specific (use “I” not “you”) • Focus on behaviors or problems, not people • Talk about the impact on you • Define the conflict as a problem to solve together, not a battle to be won
2. Communicate Understanding • Listen to really understand the other person’s feelings, needs, Reflect back. • Explain how you see the problem after you have heard them. • Identify your contribution to the situation. • Describe feelings (not judgments or accusations) • Talk about identity issues.
3.Explorealternative solutions - Take turns offering alternative solutions. List them all. • Be nonjudgmental of other’s ideas. • Examine the consequence of each solution. • Think and talk positively.
4. Agree on most workable solution - Agree on a solution you both understand and can live with. • Be committed to resolving the conflict
5. Evaluate after time Get together after some time and see how the new arrangement is working for both parties
Tips in difficult Situations • Pacing:one approximates the behavior of the other person to subconsciously build rapport. • “Mental Aikido”: mentally moving away from the focal point of the adversary’s attack. Make a non-linear response to the adversary’s words. “Sharks expect you to react.” • “Patterned interruption”:involves varying your usual response. “You have the capacity to interrupt the usual destructive pattern by doing something completely different or unexpected.”
Resolving Group Conflict Workforce Development Toolkit Part VII
MeetingConflict 1. If you sense a spoken or unspoken conflict in a meeting over an issue, address it. “There seems to be some disagreement over this issue. Can we take a few minutes to clarify the issue. 2. Clarify the conflict. “O.K. so there seems to be some disagreement over…….” • Decide if there is time to deal with it today or if another meeting needs to be set up to give it full attention. “Since this seems to be quite an important issue and we don’t have much time today. Let’s agree to meet again to discuss it further. Can we meet on….” 4. If another meeting is necessary, assign responsibility for gathering more information on the subject to staff. “Sue, can you please research information on…. And Diane can you please check on that State mandate.” • Insist employees let it go until the next meeting. “We have a lot of other issues to discuss today so let’s free our minds of this issue until the set meeting and move on.”
Group Resolution • Restate the issue to ensure clarity. • Have each group member, share information gathered and give his/her opinion. • Make sure everything is put on the table (no unresolved feelings popping up later) • Brainstorm alternatives • Agree on best solution using team decision-making steps (see reference list at end) • Develop action steps. • Agree on follow-up session.
Supervisor’s role in resolving conflict Conflict Management Toolkit Part IV
Your Role as a Supervisor Involves: • Looking for ways to reduce and prevent conflict in your work area • Handling conflict as a third party • Handling grievances as they come to you
You can reduce conflict by: • Being a good leader • Being aware of your management style • Training yourself and your staff on conflict resolution • Looking out for signs
Be a Good Leader • Set a good example • Communicate clear standards • Set ground rules • Provide clear rationale for decisions • Ensure employees have resources and training to do their jobs • Get to know your employees
Be a Good Leader • Conduct performance counseling • Assist employees who have performance problems • Address misconduct promptly • Get advice from HR when you have questions or concerns prior to the need to pursue disciplinary actions • Treat employees fairly and equitably, applying rules consistently
Be aware of your own behavior • Allowing aggressive or inappropriate conduct without taking action can foster a hostile or intimidating work environment. • Decision-making without employee input or participation can lead to frustrated employees who don’t feel valued as anything but “worker bees.” • Your staff looks to you to assist in resolving conflicts. You are better equipped to resolve conflicts if both you and your staff have had conflict resolution training. • If you are inconsistent or unpredictable, your employees will be unsure of your expectations and become frustrated. • Engaging in relationships with your employees that are personal or too informal may lead to misunderstandings, as well as other employees feeling alienated.
Lookout for Signs of discontentment • A usually outgoing, communicative employee becomes withdrawn and quiet. • An employee frequently comes in late for work. • An employee is more argumentative and erratic than usual. • An employee suddenly takes no interest in maintaining his or her personal appearance or hygiene. • An employee makes comments about violent means of dealing with, or coping with, a particular situation. • An employee talks about “having nothing to lose” or not caring about anything anymore.
Handling Employee Conflicts • Situation 1: An employee complains to you about another employee • Situation 2: You observe a conflict situation • Situation 3: An employee would like to file a formal grievance
If an employee comes to you with a possible grievance: • Take the complaint seriously • Set a professional tone for the interview– put the complainant at ease • Provide assurance of confidentiality & non-retaliation • Ask for– but do not require- a written statement. • Gather facts, do not make judgments. • Listen and get answers to: “who, what, when, where, why, how.” • Communicate your concern and describe the available options.
Handling a formal complaint cont… • Ask how the complainant would like to proceed. • Tell the complainant that prompt action will be taken. • Ask about the person (s) need for immediate assistance. • Refer them to UMW’s grievance policy • Set a time for a follow-up meeting and/or refer the person to the HR office • Document and contact HR.
Proactive Steps to Disciplining employees(Smart Discipline) • Make sure you know UMW’s discipline policy. • Share the policy and potential consequences with your employees. • Treat all employees consistently and fairly. • Before taking any action, be sure of the facts.
ProgressiveDiscipline Progressive Discipline means you move through increasingly stronger counseling or training in an attempt at causing or convincing the employee to bring his/her performance to an acceptable level