How to manage conflicts
During an integrity workshop or throughout water integrity tool implementation, conflicts among staff and unexpected difficulties can arise, and resistance from different levels may affect progress and the overall implementation of integrity tools. The following advice can help the integrity team to deal with conflicts .
- Acknowledge the conflict, don’t ignore it
- Deal with conflicts immediately
- Clarify and analyse positions to understand the situation
- Discuss the impact of the conflict with concerned parties
- Encourage different points of view but insist on dialogue
- Focus on actionable solutions not on what can’t be changed
- Agree to keep communication open
- Agree to a cooperative process
How to deal with friends and enemies
When coaching and accompanying a change process, various people will cross your way. Some of them will support change (friends), some will hinder it (enemies) .
Just like the integrity team might face conflicts during the implementation process, they will meet other staff members that support or hinder their work in advancing the integrity change process. The following list provides insights on how to recognize with what kind of character one is dealing and how to deal with that particular type of character.
- How to recognize: Talk a lot about details of an idea in a rather confusing way, have difficulty to focus on key messages
- How to deal with: Express respect and appreciation. Learn what is important about their idea but don’t let them too close to your communication programme
Other change agents
- How to recognize: Contact seekers, earnest promoters
- How to deal with: They can be partners or competitors. Test if collaboration is possible, otherwise keep a respectful distance
- How to recognize: Busy but interested, air of authority, appear to know everybody
- How to deal with: Give an “elevator pitch” and ask for a meeting, listen carefully to their priorities, be helpful
- How to recognize: Busy and not interested, have a hard time understanding, attempt to change the subject of the conversation
- How to deal with: Don’t waste time here unless you have strong transformer buy-in so you can say ‘so-and-so thinks it’s important’
- How to recognize: Make small, frequent complaints about anything related to change
- How to deal with: Avoid but try to drive a wedge between them and the reactionaries, as reactionaries like to recruit laggards to slow down a change process
- How to recognize: Take sharp interest in your idea and may appear supportive at first
- How to deal with: Avoid them at all costs. The more they learn about you the more ammunition they have to oppose you. Be prepared to recruit them as Transformers after iconoclasts have softened them up and given them no other option
- How to recognize: Angry, outrageous, tend to be highly visible, loud and annoying
- How to deal with: Feed them information they can use to attack reactionaries, but publicly keep your distance
- How to recognize: Convinced pessimism, cynical laughter at your naïve efforts
- How to deal with: Avoid this energy drain at all costs
- How to recognize: Government officials, financial controllers, executives, have official titles, have a god-like demeanour, prefer to talk only to other controllers.
How to deal with: Treat them as super-transformers, stress the benefits of your cause. Make sure to impress and be super-crisp, because if he/she doesn’t like your idea, he/she will act as super-reactionary and you will be crushed like a gnat.
- MindTools, no year, Resolving Team Conflict
- Atkisson, 2011