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Conflict - The Conflict Model

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So, there are a couple of ways that we can address conflict. We can resolve it once it happens, or we can prevent it from happening. One of the models that we'll talk about today is the "Conflict-Free Zone". And the "Conflict-Free Zone" is a zone we create in an effort to minimize conflict, or to prevent conflict from happening. So what we have here is a circle comprised in the center of expectations that we have hopefully defined together— leader and employee, or leader and team. So expectations need to be defined. Now, in some cases, a leader may share expectations that he or she happen to have— expectations around performance, around conduct, and around attendance and timeliness. Employees may want to contribute to the creation of expectations. Point simply is, expectations need to be talked about. And then what we do is we seek to reach agreement and that's the place where all of our employees and the leader of those employees will say, "Okay, we've got it. We know what the expectations are, we've agreed to honor those expectations. Now, each day, as long as what we say and what we do match those expectations, we have a "Conflict-Free Zone." What will probably happen because we're dealing with human beings is at some point, the expectation will not be honored. So we may have some variation of the expectation, and we might call that an "unmet expectation". As a leader, my responsibility is to try to get back to the "Conflict-Free Zone" as quickly as possible. So when a variation occurs —for example, somebody arrives to work late by ten minutes— I might go to that person and say, "Hey, I've noticed that you arrived to work late today. The agreement is that you would be on time. What happened?" Now, let's imagine that we reset that expectation. The employee says, "Oh yeah, that's right, I just hit the snooze alarm too many times this morning." Or, "I took too long to read the paper and have an extra cup of coffee. So yeah, I'll get back on track." So the next day they're on time, the next day they're on time, the next day they're on time, and then they're not on time again. And each time we have a variation from that expectation you might think about it as being pinched. And each time we get pinched, it hurts a bit more. So with this particular employee, the second time it happens, a week later I may say, "Hey, you were late again. Now this happened last week, we talked about it, we got reset in line with the expectations that we have that you would be on time and now you're late again. What happened?" And so we perhaps reset with that employee. And let's imagine that it happens a few more times. Now certainly...so let's not do this. Right now, we won't talk about what the performance management consequences are when someone is late three or four times. Let's not get caught up in that right now. Instead what we'll talk about is, what happens over time when the same thing keeps happening and we keep getting that pinch. We reach this point where we might have what we call a "Negative Emotional Reaction". And how many of you have ever been pinched so many times and then suddenly the anger comes out or the frustration comes out or this sense of, "Okay, that's it. I've had it! I'm done." Right? So we call that a "NER", a "Negative Emotional Reaction". Now, as a leader, your responsibility, in fact, is to prevent unprofessional "Negative Emotional Reactions". And so you'll continue to reset to expectation and then you get to decide how many times can a variation happen before you have to say to an employee, "I have no choice. We've talked about this three times now. I'm going to have to enter into a formal process, and the first step for that is to give you a formal written notice and put that in your file." If indeed that is the process. There is one more thing that I would add to this... is that sometimes, a variation occurs, somebody does something that you weren't expecting, or somebody does something that you don't like. It's possible that that was never talked about. Because we can't necessarily capture everything in this. So let's imagine that we've set ten expectations, but an eleventh thing happened, and so now as a leader what we have to do is keep in mind that it is our responsibility to have clear expectations in the first place. So what I might say when that unexpected behavior happens— because as a leader, I think it's common sense— in fairness to the employee, what I need to say is, "Oh, you know what? You just did something, or you just said something that I would prefer you not do or say. And so what I would like to do is add another expectation so that you understand what I'm looking for. And can I gain your agreement to honor that moving forward?" Ok? So there is a bit of a circle that happens here, almost in the same way that we talked about the "Managing Performance 365 Days a Year" is cyclical. So, too, is managing and preventing conflict.

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Duration: 6 minutes and 15 seconds
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Language: English
License: All rights reserved
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Posted by: amanda.cropper on Jan 17, 2017

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