Conflict Resolution: Concepts and Practice (The Technical Manager's Survival Guides)
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According to Carol Watson and Richard Hoffman more than 42% of managers' time is spent on reaching an agreement when conflict occurs. As discussed earlier, we manage people, and people are motivated. As motivated people our nature compels us into conflict. So, it will not be unusual if you have not been in a position where you had to manage a conflict between one or more people in your group, department, or in the company.
Most importantly, according to Daniel Dana, in his book Conflict Resolution, it has been estimated that over 60% of performance deficiencies result from problems in employee's relationships, not from problems with individuals. The question is: What would you do, if two members of your team were in a conflict and you could not afford to lose either of them? Typically most organizations would try to transfer one of the employees to another department, but such a strategy typically means the loss of technical skills, since replacements would probably mean new hires, which would require extensive one-on-one training; or hiring someone that would not be abreast of the issues at hand.
So what are your options? Well, any MBA textbook would give you some suggestions, such as:
• Breakup - As mentioned earlier, you could send one of the professionals in the conflict to another department, reducing the amount of time they interact and preventing, therefore, further conflicts. But we know that such an approach inevitably will produce inefficiencies and lack of performance, especially if they were all part of the same team
• Counseling and coaching a team can go a long way, and so does training them proactively in conflict resolution, teambuilding, and decision-making processes. A good portion of my consulting practice at MGCG is precisely on training and coaching in these areas. But counseling is not always directed at the source of the conflict. A well-meaning coaching session can get out of hand as it delves into the problem, and the counselor may appear to be taking sides, even if he or she intends to stay neutral, and may become someone's opponent.
• Ignore - I would not count on this but sometimes conflicts can go away all by themselves
• Termination of employment is the most drastic approach one can take to resolve a conflict. You can get rid of feuding employees completely, but it will be very likely one of the most costly and strategies you may choose, as you will have to hire a new professional, train him or her, and bring she or he up to speed
• Use of coercion - People tend to respond to coercion if their basic needs depend on it (i.e., need for a paycheck, need to belong in the group or organization, desire to learn, etc.), but many will become even less cooperative.