Eric J. Summons, Ph.D.ORGANIZATIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL CONSULTING
CONTACT US 419-509-2292
Conflicts are a natural part of any organization. Personality and culture clashes, leadership or work styles, even differences in perceptions will fuel conflicts. In many cases, conflicts can be advantageous because they require us to dig deep, expose our vulnerabilities, and eventually work through the issues that may never have been uncovered.
The basis for conflict in companies is seemingly endless. We have the experience to address many harmful situations. We recognize the difference between simple incompetence and more serious mental illness. We know when abuse of authority or opportunity occurs. We understand how overlapping job duties may cause conflict between two otherwise competent employees. We can identify when a more productive son resents a favored son, or how one individual socially manipulates others against their supervisor.
No one approach or technique guarantees success in conflict resolution, but we take a let’s get at the root cause approach when working with clients to resolve conflicts. A good starting point is to learn the perceptions of those involved. How do the players perceive the situation? Who’s to blame according to each? From there we apply our years of study and experience in psychology, human behavior, and conflict management to identify dysfunctional behaviors in people and within the organization. This process helps us recommend an action or series of actions for individuals, managers, or family members to resolve the conflicts.
The first step in conflict resolution is assessment. In a confidential environment, we talk to those involved giving them an opportunity to express their concerns about the situation. This can be done one-on-one or in a group setting. We then gather more information so we can suggest insightful ways to resolve the problem.
Once we have a viable path to resolution, we create an implementation plan. Often, it takes several sequential actions over a period of time to be effective. For example, a family member, who was not part of a family business, influenced family members in the business to resolve a management conflict after we helped set the stage with a negotiation process. In another example, a reorganized IT department was in distress because no one could understand how to make the reorganization work. We formulated a multi-step path to make the process of change acceptable. In a case of a contentious union versus management discussion, we launched a series of meetings that helped everyone understand that by combining their efforts, they could more effectively deal with competition.
A key department in a large university had two warring factions that substantially disrupted operations. The president requested our assistance to help resolve this conflict. We met members of the department one on one and as a group to distinguish between those who would work to rebuild the negative climate and those who had other interests. We brought everyone together by focusing on common values and restoring relationships. A successful reconciliation process was implemented with everyone on board.