Effective Conflict Resolution

A few of the examples of effective conflict resolution are provided to highlight specific features of Confrontation. These were taken verbatim from the written descriptions.

1. This example highlights ifie presentation of a problem of mutual interest—meeting deadlines more often at the earliest opportunity (when the problem is observed). Superior is open-minded and asking for help.

"1 once was given the responsibility for managing a small group of technicians engaged in turning out critical path schedules. I spent some time trying to get organized and involved with the group, but I sensed a hostile atmosphere, accompanied by offhand sarcastic remarks. At the end of the day very little work had been accomplished.

"The next day when 1 came in, I called the group together and told them that we were falling behind, and asked them to help me find a solution. After the initial distrust had been dissipated, the group produced some good ideas on work reallocation, office arrangement, priorities and techniques. 1 told the group that all of their agreed-upon suggestions would be implemented at once, and their reply was that the backlog would be cleared in three days and would not build up again.

"Within three days the backlog was gone, the group worked together better, and for the six months i was in charge, schedules were always ready before they were required."

2. This example highlights emphasis on facts in determining the best resolution of conflict. Both had strong convictions but one willingly moved to the other's position when facts indicated that this position was best.

"The project engineer and 1 disagreed about the method of estimating the cost of alternative schemes in a highway interchange. Neither of us could agree on the other's method. Eventually I was able to satisfy him using algebra. We were both happy with the result."

3. Like Example 2, this one highlights an emphasis on facts and the conviction that by digging and digging, the truth will be discovered. Alt hough the superior had a vested interest in the "old" system (a product of his thinking), the discussion was never personalized. That is, it did not involve "me" versus "you," but rather a comparison of two systems, two concepts or two ideas.

"About a year ago 1 developed a new system for processing the accounting of the inventory of obsolete material on hand in our plant. It was my estimation that it would prove to be an easier system to operate and control and would also involve a considerable monetary saving for the company.

"When I approached my boss with the system, he immediately turned it down as he had developed the present system and was sure it was the best possible system. As I was sure my new system was superior to the present one, I then convinced him to join me in analyzing a comparison of the two systems, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the two. After a period, of evaluation involving many differences of opinion, we were able to resolve that my system had definite merit and should be brought into operation."

4. This example highlights the fact that through problem solving both parties can benefit. Instead of compromising, the issues are disussed until a solution completely satisfactory to both is found. Often this is superior to the ones initially favored by tfe separate parties.

"In the—Board of Education, there were eight inspectors of Public Schools and four superintendents. Last February the inspectors were given the assignment of developing an in-service plan for the training of teachers for the school year 1968-69. The inspee-tors gave the assignment to a group of three of their number who were to bring a report to the next inspectors' meeting. I was not a member of the in-service committee but in conversations with the committee members 1 discovered that they contemplated having an in-service program for two teachers from each school (there are about 85 schools) once a month for the entire year in mathematics. I felt that this would be a very thin coverage of our 2000 or so teachers.

"Consequently 1 worked on a plan whereby utilizing two Thursday mornings a month and the specialized teaching help available in—, every teacher would have the opportunity to become involved in an in-service training session in a subject of his or her choice once during the year. At the inspectors' meeting the sub-committee presented its report and after some procedural wrangling I was permitted to present my plan. The two were diametrically opposed and it looked as if my plan would be voted down except the chairman suggested that both plans be presented to the superintendents.

"At the meeting of the superintendents, the subcommittee made its report and I presented my plan. As the meeting progressed there was some give and take and instead of one or the other being discarded both plans were adopted. For this school year mathematics is stressed for the first eight Thursday mornings (their plan in a rather concentrated form); then for the next eight months on the second and fourth Thursday my plan is used. We came out of this meeting with a combination of the two plans which was better than either one individually."

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