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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.

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Conflict management toolkit

Conflict Management Toolkit

University of Mary Washington

Table of contents
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

Determining the level of conflict in my life

Conflict Management Toolkit

Part I

Determining the source of conflict
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

What is my conflict style?

Conflict Management Toolkit

Part II

Conflict style
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
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 explanation1
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 explanation2
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 style1
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

One-to-one Conflict

Conflict Management Toolkit

Part VI

If you want to constructively resolve a conflict with another person
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

Step 1: another person…

Adopt the right frame of mind

The approach
The Approach another person…

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

Your attitude

Leave Behind… another person…

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
Be aware of your nonverbal signals: another person…

  • 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
Focus on underlying Issues another person…

  • 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
Communication Tips another person…

  • 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

Step 2 another person…:

Consider time factors

Be timely talk to the other person while the issues are still current

Be Timely another person…: 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
Consider the other person’s time needs another person…

  • 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

Step 3 another person…:

Set some ground rules!

3 golden rules
3 “Golden” Rules another person…

  • Everyone tells it like they see it.

  • Get everything on the table.

  • Focus on the future.

Sample rules for discussion
Sample Rules for discussion another person…

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

Step 4 another person…:

The Actual Discussion

The actual conversation
The Actual Conversation another person…

  • Define the conflict.

  • Communicate understanding.

  • Explore alternative solutions.

  • Agree on most workable solution.

  • Evaluate after time.

Define the conflict
Define the Conflict another person…

  • 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
2. Communicate Understanding another person…

  • 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 explore alternative solutions
3. another person…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
4. Agree on most workable solution another person…

- Agree on a solution you both understand and can live with.

  • Be committed to resolving the conflict

5 evaluate after time
5. Evaluate after time another person…

Get together after

some time and see

how the new arrangement is

working for both parties

Tips in difficult situations
Tips in difficult Situations another person…

  • 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

Resolving Group Conflict another person…

Workforce Development Toolkit

Part VII

Meeting conflict
Meeting another person…Conflict

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
Group Resolution another person…

  • 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

Supervisor’s role in resolving conflict another person…

Conflict Management Toolkit

Part IV

Your role as a supervisor
Your Role as a Supervisor another person…


  • 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
You can reduce conflict by: another person…

  • 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
Be a Good Leader another person…

  • 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 leader1
Be a Good Leader another person…

  • 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
Be aware of your own behavior another person…

  • 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
Lookout for Signs of discontentment another person…

  • 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
Handling Employee Conflicts another person…

  • 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
If an employee comes to you with a possible grievance another person…:

  • 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
Handling a formal complaint cont… another person…

  • 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
Proactive Steps to Disciplining employees another person…(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.

Umw discipline policy

UMW another person…DisciplinePolicy

Progressive discipline

Progressive another person…Discipline

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

Key ingredients in progressive discipline
Key Ingredients in Progressive Discipline another person…

  • Due notice

  • A chance to improve, and

  • A review process

The process should be FULL, FAIR, PROMPT, and CONDUCTED IN GOOD FAITH.

Advantages of progressive discipline
Advantages of Progressive Discipline another person…

  • Protects you against accusations of firing a person without due process.

  • Chance to turn the employee around into a well functioning employee.

  • Chance to improve policies and practices

  • Demonstrates to fellow employees that you are fair and willing to give employees a chance.

1 how to act when you become aware of a disciplinary problem
1 another person…. How to act when you become aware of a disciplinary problem

  • Personal Observation

    If you observed the negative behavior personally, you can proceed to the slide labeled counseling. (click here)

  • Complaint from a 3rd party

    If a 3rd party makes you aware of the negative behavior, you must make sure you conduct thorough and fair fact finding steps. (see next slide).

2 fact finding
2. Fact Finding another person…

  • Talk to the accused using the “counseling” guidelines on next slide.

  • If the employee denies the behavior or recounts a different scenario, explain to him/her that further fact finding is necessary.

  • Talk to only those directly involved in the situation in a confidential manner.

  • Document all discussions with related parties.

  • Review all relevant documents, pictures or diagrams to substantiate the fact finding.

3. Counseling the Employee another person…

  • Assure employee that only those who need to know will be informed.

  • Share concrete examples with the employee of the negative behavior

  • State the effects of this negative behavior.

  • Describe the behavior you would like to see (what changes must occur).

  • Give the employee a chance to explain or comment.

  • Agree together on a plan of action.

  • State the consequences if this change of behavior does not occur

Additional tips about counseling
Additional Tips about Counseling another person…

  • Utilize theVirginia Employee Assistance Program (VEAP) whenever you see it as appropriate (This should be offered in addition to disciplinary action, not as a substitute).

  • Documentation of counseling should be retained in supervisor’s files, not in employee’s personnel file.

  • Don’t soften the blow, the employee must understand the severity of his/her actions.

4 formal discipline
4. Formal Discipline another person…

  • Before taking any formal disciplinary action, consult with your supervisor.

  • Reference the “Code of Conduct” to match severity of discipline with negative conduct.

  • Issue a written notice when counseling did not work or when the conduct was severe enough to warrant immediate discipline.

  • ALWAYS place a warning about the consequences of failure to improve performance in writing before implementing any discipline measures such as suspension, dismissal.

4 formal discipline continued
4. Formal Discipline Continued another person…

  • If the employee’s performance remains poor and you feel you have provided enough counseling and given enough warning, follow through on the threatened discipline.

  • ALWAYS make sure of what you are doing and that your final decision is fair.

  • Listen to employee and review the evidence one more time from the employee’s point of view.

  • Finalize the discipline by following your policies.

  • Consult HR as to the actual method of implementing the discipline.

5 termination
5. Termination another person…



    Before conducting a termination, you need to:

  • Schedule (when, how long)

  • Location

  • Extra Support (HR, EAP)

  • Prepare (physical & psychological)

  • Review separation package

  • Think about employee’s state of mind and potential reaction

5 termination cont
5. Termination Cont. another person…


  • Deliver the message quickly, respectfully, & professionally

  • Ensure individual understands that employment if terminated immediately or in the near future

  • Deliver the separation package

  • Strongly encourage employees to utilize VEC Job Search Center

  • Provide structure for the next 24 hours

  • Ensure to collect agency property before employee leaves for the day.

Click here for

more information

Key points in smart discipline
Key Points in another person…Smart Discipline

  • Always follow your written policies and past practices in similar situations

  • Lack of consistency will cause a judge to assume you are discriminating against the employee in some way.

  • Remember that other employees will be watching you to see if you are fair.

  • Always listen to employees and give them a chance to improve

Top ways to get sued
Top Ways to Get Sued… another person…

  • Ignore the union “salter”

  • Discharge the disabled worker (without accommodation)

  • Misclassifying a non-exempt employee as exempt and not paying overtime.

  • Allowing managers and supervisors to use offensive words as a “joke”.

  • Failure to stop sexual harassment.

  • Punishing the victim (intentionally or unintentionally)

  • Letting managers “go postal” when acting on behalf of employer.

In a disciplinary situation not taking action is a decision

In a disciplinary situation… another person…“not taking action” is a decision!

The role of the office of human resources in conflict resolution
The Role of the another person…Office of Human Resourcesin Conflict Resolution

The role of hr
The Role of HR another person…

If you are in a conflict situation and don’t know how to deal with it, the Office of HR can:

  • Provide you with guidance and tools to approach the conflict situation.

  • Direct you through the appropriate chain of command.

  • Present formal and informal options available to you.

  • Coordinate mediation, facilitation, or counseling sessions for you.



Things that will help us to help you
Things that will help us to help you… another person…

HR will try to help you no matter

what your situation, but we can best

assist you if you come to us:

  • At the onset of the conflict;

  • With clear examples or facts; and

  • With your ideas of what you would like changed in your situation.

Consult hr as a proactive rather than reactive measure
Consult HR as a another person…proactive rather than reactive measure

A single injury is much easier to fix when

compared to multiple wounds!

Informal processes
Informal Processes another person…

“Open Door”:

- Present concern to any available level of management

  • Make an appointment

  • Be aware of the supervisory chain of command

    “Internal Mediation”

    - If the conflict issue involves only work- related situations, your supervisor or a higher level manager can try to assist the two conflicting parties in reaching a solution.


  • Voluntary Process

  • Neutral mediators assist discussion

  • Parties working out own solutions

  • Call HR office or EDR for more information

Formal processes
Formal Processes another person…

“The Grievance Process”

  • See training materials

  • See link to actual policy

Reference list
Reference List another person…

  • UMW’s Conflict Management Training course for Supervisors

  • UMW’s Conflict Resolution course with video

  • “Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict into Collaboration”. David Levine (book)

  • “The Book of Agreement: 10 Essentials for getting the results you want”. David Levine (Book)

Supervisor network
Supervisor Network another person…

As a supervisor, you have probably dealt with a lot of conflict situations. If you have some good advice for your colleagues or would like to ask for advice from other colleagues, please send your advice or question to:

[email protected]

Responses and questions will be posted

As soon as they arrive.

Other available toolkits
Other Available toolkits another person…

  • Workforce Development for managers and Supervisors (helps with assessing staffing, training, and budgetary needs)

  • Hiring Toolkit(everything you need to know about recruiting a new employee and bringing them on board)

    “S” drive: Fac-Staf/Recruitment