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Managing Conflict Successfully

Managing Conflict Successfully

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Managing Conflict Successfully

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  1. Managing Conflict Successfully Presented by: Jack G. Lee III, CPA August 20, 2013

  2. Poll #1 • What answer best characterizes your reason for attending this web seminar? • To gain insight my personal conflict management style • To explore better ways for dealing with conflicts • To learn how to prepare for a difficult conversation • To find out how to address difficult performance issues • Other

  3. Partner Performance and Accountability Webinars • Our 2013 Partner Accountability Webinar Series has been designed to spark your strategic thinking in the area of partner performance and accountability, and includes the following sessions: • In Session 1 on June 25th, we focused on “Setting Partner Expectations and Reporting to Drive Performance and Accountability” • In Session 2 on July 16th, we learned about “Driving Partner Performance and Accountability with Feedback and Straight Talk” • In today’s final session (Session 3), we’ll conclude the series with a discussion on “Managing Conflict Successfully”

  4. Our Agenda • In this session, we will continue to explore how to improve our overall performance and accountability by: • Understanding the barriers which keep us from effectively dealing with conflict • Exploring the various conflict management styles and a better collaborative way of dealing with disappointments and upsets • Identifying methods to uncover the underlying causes of conflicts • Learning to “talk straight” and use specific language for handling conflicts more strategically and with more success

  5. Let’s Review:Keys to Performance and Accountability

  6. Keys To Performance and Accountability • To improve performance and accountability in your firm, there are three key attributes on which to focus: • Unity – establishing unity around your firm strategy with trust as your foundation • Ownership – defining roles and goals and taking responsibility for achieving results • Accountability – monitoring and evaluating your performance, acknowledging you can be better These come together in our Leadership Development Model…

  7. The Leadership Development Model Ownership Trust Accountability

  8. Lack of Trust =Lack of Unity • The main reason firms struggle with forming and supporting a unified strategy is the lack of trust • Lack of trust shows up as: • Inability to make decisions, or “churn” • Triangulation and “side conversations” • Internal competition vs. external • Unresolved conflict and inability to move forward • Lack of passion and energy • Unwillingness to submit to or support group decisions • Bottom Line: without trust you can’t have accountability and without accountability, you can’t have trust

  9. Three Trust Building Behaviors • Integrity is more than “honesty” or “doing the right thing” and includes: • Keeping commitments – not over-committing and under-delivering • Resetting expectations when commitments cannot be kept • Accountability isfollowing through on commitments and includes: • Taking responsibility when their “things” are not going as planned • Holding others accountable • Straight Talk uses candor and honesty in all communications and tells it like it is, and includes: • No beating around the bush • No avoiding difficult subjects

  10. Developing A “Get Better” Culture

  11. “Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”William Faulkner American Writer

  12. The Get Better Culture • Leaders and managers are imperfect and can always get better – every day until they retire • Leaders and managers need feedback to get better – no one is above feedback and input • All firm processes, programs, services and other mechanical elements can always improve – there are no sacred cows • Every person should be striving to get better and to improve the firm so it can get better, too

  13. Barriers That Keep Us From Effectively Dealing With Conflict

  14. Most of us don’t feel comfortable engaging in conflict because we are afraid of being wrong, causing an argument, damaging relationships, or hurting people’s feelings

  15. How do you feel when you have a conflict with someone at work?What do you usually do about it? Think About It

  16. Typical View of Conflict • When there is a conflict, we mostly focus on the negative aspects • The problem • The consequences or impact of the conflict • Our feelings about it

  17. Then We Tell Others! • We don’t go directly to the person with whom we have a concern and instead, we tell others • We call this “triangulation” • This eventually “gets around” to the other party, eroding respect and trust • And, it can erode trust and respect of those with whom you “confide” or “vent,” too • Instead of professionally resolving the matter, you make it worse or at best, allow it to persist

  18. But Conflict Can Be Good! • Because it: • Highlights problems • Promotes change • Encourages compromise and shared solutions • Enhances morale and group identity when dealt with openly • Stimulates interest, creativity, and innovation

  19. How Do You Handle Conflict? • There are four typical conflict management styles • Usually, one party approaches the conflict using their dominant style and the other party adapts to it • You need to understand your dominant style at work, realizing that – • You may use a different style at work than you do at home • You may use more than one of these but try to identify your dominant style

  20. The Avoider Photo courtesy of

  21. The Accommodator Photo courtesy of

  22. The Confronter Photo courtesy of

  23. Compromiser Photo courtesy of

  24. Poll #2 • What’s your dominant style? • Avoider • Accommodator • Competitor • Compromiser

  25. There Is Another Way! The Collaborator Photo courtesy of

  26. There Is Another Way! • Collaborating (“The Win-Win-er”) • Working together • Developing solutions • Situational – change something! • Appeal to major common goals (“the greater good”) • Allowing each party to address their self-interest and achieve their desired outcome (or close to it)

  27. Don’t Be Afraid To Talk Straight! • Straight talk is not “brutal honesty” – when done right, there’s nothing hurtful about it • It’s not about redressing wrongs or giving someone the “what for” – where you are “right” and they are “wrong” • It’s about caring enough about someone and your relationship with them to overcome your fear and express your insights so you can both improve • It’s more about being vulnerable than forceful

  28. Don’t Be Afraid To Talk Straight! • When you do, then your conflict partner can more openly share their thoughts, too • So you can understand their perspective • Then, you can both come to agreement on how to move forward constructively

  29. Poll #3 • What are some conflict examples that you encounter in workplace? (check all that apply) • A client doesn’t provide their information on time • A client is upset about their invoice • A partner or manager doesn’t follow a firm policy • A colleague shuts down others by interrupting or shouting • A staff person consistently misses agreed deadlines

  30. Preparing For DifficultPerformance Conversations(Before The Meeting)

  31. Preparing For Difficult Conversations • Start by defining the conflict • Examine the situation and consider possible solutions • This is essentially a “venting” place for you to clear your wrong-making thoughts • Commit to having the discussion • Set the time and place for the discussion • Avoid distractions and public places • Give yourself enough time

  32. Preparing For Difficult Conversations • Prepare an outline of your view of the situation • Consider the root cause and examine your interpretations • Ask how you could be as much as 100% responsible for the problem • Consider the ramifications • Examine possible solutions

  33. Your Mindset • The number one thing that will make a difference in managing difficult conversations is your mindset • Your likelihood of success in the conversation is low if you’re coming from anger, irritation or that other person is “wrong” or inept, or other negative interpretations • Your likelihood of the conversation going well is high if you center yourself around giving your “conflict partner” a gift that will enhance their whole life -- doing what’s in their best interest • Come from a place of care and concern for your partner • Have your intention be to inspire them to succeed

  34. To Adopt the Necessary Mindset… …you have to take 100% responsibility for your role and give up making the other party wrong! … and instead look for ways to collaborate with your “conflict partner”

  35. Discussing Difficult Issues NOT: “I’m right, you’re wrong” INSTEAD: “Let’s partner together”

  36. To Achieve Your Desired Outcome • Self-honesty is required • You have to acknowledge your self interest and be willing to share it • Vulnerability and humanity are required • There are few real “Mother Theresas” • Your goal is to create an environment where your conflict partner can do the same • You cannot collaborate until all agendas are on the table

  37. Give Up Being Right • You have a perspective and it’s your truth but it isn’t necessarily THE TRUTH • Your truth is often clouded by your selfish interest or frustration that you are somehow dealing with an imposition • Carrying more weight than you should • Not getting all the credit you think you should get • Not having things go the way you expected • The other party has their own selfish interest and their own view of things – which is sometimes oblivious to your concerns • You need to speak with them to share your views, hear their views and have the full picture

  38. Distinguishing Self-Interest • We all have self-interest which usually falls into one of the following categories: • Looking good or avoiding looking bad • Getting more time or taking less of our time • Getting more money or taking less of our money • Experiencing pleasure or some form of feeling good • In effectively dealing with conflict, you have to openly share your self-interest and understand your conflict partner’s possible self-interest

  39. Conflict Example #1 Self Interest • Your co-worker didn’t complete their portion of a project by Thursday and now it’s Friday afternoon and you feel immense pressure to get the work done • Your self interest could include: • Not wanting to spend additional time (perhaps in the evening or over the weekend) to complete your portion of the project • Wanting to look good to the client by delivering the project on time early next week • Your colleague’s self interest could include: • Wanting more time for other projects, personal interests, etc. • Not wanting to look bad because of questions they have or something they don’t understand • Making more money because they are paid a bonus on new business development (and not on client billings) so they focused on that first • Doing the “bigger boss’” work first so they will look good in their eyes

  40. Conflict Example #2Self Interest • Your client has not paid their invoice which is now over 90 days outstanding and your managing partner is pressuring you to get it collected before the end of the month • Your self interest could include: • Not wanting to spend additional time tracking down the client to pay his bill on time • Not wanting to look bad in front of the managing partner • Not wanting to have your bonus negatively impacted by poor billing and collection performance • Your client’s self interest could include: • Not wanting to have a difficult conversation about the performance of one of your team members on the engagement • Not wanting to look bad in front of their boss for causing fees to increase due to missing project deadlines • Not wanting to have their bonus negatively impacted

  41. Interpretations • There are many ways to interpret your conflict • And it’s worth developing a number of potential ways to view the conflict before identifying your approach to it • We suggest you play an interpretations game • Let’s explore some possible ways to interpret the situation • Consider both “ugly” (negative) and “hopeful” (positive) interpretations • Which is the truth?

  42. Conflict Example #1Interpretations • You could be making your co-worker wrong for not completing their portion of the project on time by thinking that he/she: • Is lazy • Doesn’t care about their work or the client • Is trying to sabotage you and make you look bad • Hopeful, or positive interpretations that will be more constructive are that it’s possible that your co-worker: • Didn’t know the timeline • Wasn’t trained on the methodology so it took them longer • Received multiple assignments and didn’t know the priority of this one over the others • Was afraid to communicate their roadblocks to you Which is the truth?

  43. Conflict Example #2Interpretations • You could be making your client wrong for not paying the invoice by thinking that he/she: • Is incompetent in doing their job • Doesn’t care about you or your firm • Is trying to make his financial performance look better at your expense • Hopeful, or positive interpretations that will be more constructive are that it’s possible that your client: • Has some concerns about the service he wants to clear up before paying the invoice • Needs help understanding the amount of the invoice and explaining the value of the additional services to his boss • Has recently been dealing with a number of personal issues and unable to address payment of outstanding invoices • Was afraid to communicate their short term cash flow concerns Which is the truth?

  44. Interpretations Can Be Tricky! • There are many potential reasons or causes for each communication or performance breakdown • Without having critical and honest information, your approach could come from “made up stuff” • Use the interpretations game to vent your negative feelings about disappointments or unmet expectations and see that there are other possible interpretations that are worth exploring

  45. “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

  46. Conducting DifficultPerformance Conversations(During The Meeting)

  47. “EOIS” Method • When expectations aren’t met, recognize you have to undertake a “research” conversation to find out why • Set up the conversation in a non-punishing, collaborative way • Be clear and specific • Follow an “expectation, observation, inquiry, stop” approach • “I had expected your portion of the Jones project on Thursday, but it’s Friday afternoon and I do not have it yet. Why do you think this has occurred?”

  48. Verbally Discussing the Area For Improvement • Share what your expectation was • Identify how the behavior or outcome differed • Ask for the other party’s perspective on the situation • Be in an inquiry mode – remember, you don’t already know • Some possible questions you could ask after you have shared your expectations and observations • What is your view of what happened (or not happened)? • What do you think caused this performance? • Why do you think this occurred? • How do you feel you about your performance in this area?

  49. Stop and Listen! • Listen for cues and clues from the other party as to what happened on their end • Consider using reflective listening techniques, like: • Repeat what they say, usually by paraphrasing, “As I understand it…” • Acknowledge any feelings they express, “So you feel that…” • You can also use simple phrases to acknowledge that you’re listening, but that don’t necessarily express agreement • I see, I understand, I can appreciate that

  50. Listen For Clues • You’re looking to see: • Is the conflict caused by miscommunication or improperly set expectations? • Or from a lack of competency (skill, ability, experience, talent)? • Or, is there some sort of intention or motive that I’m uncomfortable with?