Managing Differences – Conflict Management

Differences are a vital component for organizational success and individual development. Differences may escalate to conflicts they may range along a continuum from minor to severe. Conflicts can develop as a result of differences in beliefs, perspectives, ideas, communication styles, personalities, gender, age, experience, cultural norms, and power, to name some of the elements.

The challenge organizations face is managing differences and conflicts to harness the power and value differences provide in seeing problems and solutions. Intellectually, this is relatively easy to understand. However, when differences escalate, it is inevitable for emotions to arise (or be suppressed) that lead to unproductive, and sometimes damaging, conflicts.

We work with you to address differences and conflict in two fundamental ways- proactively and reactively. Proactively, the approach includes education and training about the role of conflict in creating high performing teams, increased understanding of your (and your team’s) decision making preferences, individual communication and conflict management styles, as well as leadership behaviors needed to help a group move successfully through conflicts.

Once differences have escalated to a level of conflict it is important to assess the level of conflict (slight, moderate, severe), what the conflict involves, and who is involved. In this situation, the organization is in a reactive mode.

The approach is to create a forum for effective listening and dialog to occur for all parties to better understand and respect each other. The focus of the work to manage conflict in this situation is on the issues creating the conflict and how to effectively manage, not necessarily resolve, those conflicts. While there may be educational components to this work, it is not a theoretical exercise at this point. It is very much about dealing with the very real issues and building skills.