Management Principle: Conflict

Well performing, sustainable firms are those with a healthy culture and people who are motivated to serve, rather than just show up. The most debilitating of all sicknesses is when intra-company relationships turn sour, and conflict is resolved by either abandoning or abusing proper communication protocols. Today’s principle focuses on the only real option if you want health in your organization.


Conflict. Like it or not we will all face conflict, forcing us to deal with an unwanted problem. We have one of three choices: 1) do nothing and avoid it; 2) assert ourselves to win; or, 3) resolve it with a proper communication process. If we stuff our emotions and say nothing, or, use aggression as a form of verbal combat, we will drive wedges in relationships and make matters worse. Speaking with outsiders only spreads the cancer and creates larger factions. On the other hand, when conflict is addressed properly, trust and teamwork emerge. We must learn how to say what we feel but in a nonjudgmental way, and provide opportunity for the other person to clarify their intentions in order to bridge the communication gap. It involves listening and questioning skills, and it requires both parties to suspend judgment until both sides are heard. Only then will relationships truly heal, yielding an even stronger bond. Organizational leaders who understand this principle cultivate a culture of engagement, and are rewarded with motivated, engaged team members, producing better results.

Coaching questions: What are the unstated rules in your firm, regarding conflict resolution? What can you do to improve the culture?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

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