“The more of this you do, the better you will get.”
I. Definition of conflict.
A. Conflict is a process that begins when someone perceives that someone else has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect something that the first person cares about.
B. Not all conflict within an organization is unhealthy, but conflict between and among people within an organization can quickly become counter-productive, divisive, and destructive if not properly managed.
II. Here are a few different views of conflict in organizations:
A. The traditional view assumed that all conflict was bad.
1. Conflict was the result of poor communication, a lack of openness and trust between workers and management, and a failure on the part of managers to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of their employees.
2. A workplace without conflict was assumed to be a happy, productive workplace.
B. The human relations view, popular from the 1940s to the 1970s, assumed that conflict was a natural occurrence in all groups and organizations. Industrial and labor psychologists rationalized its existence: it can’t be eliminated, it may even be beneficial.
C. The interactionist view, which emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, actually encourages conflict on the grounds that without a minimum level of conflict, no organization can change, adapt, and survive the rigors of the marketplace.
III. Although conflict may develop over any number of issues or factors, here are five that seem to appear regularly in social psychology literature:
A. Limited resources;
B. Values, goals, and priorities;
C. Poorly defined responsibilities;
E. Human drives for success.
IV. Sensing conflict in the workplace is important to the organization.
A. Each manager in a business must assume responsibility for identifying conflict within the work environment and using appropriate means for managing or resolving differences which are unhealthy to the life of the organization.
B. Here are some ways to sense day-to-day conflict in the workplace:
1. Try to visualize or imagine how your actions or those of others might cause, or are causing, conflict.
2. Give feedback because the amount, accuracy, and timeliness of information that you provide to an employee will help you understand his or her point of view.
3. Get feedback to find out what your associates are thinking and feeling; do not wait until the last minute to find out you have a problem.
4. Define expectations because managers often discover that as they define their expectations for employees in clear terms, they will receive information in return about what team members and associates expect.
5. Review performance regularly to reduce the opportunity for serious conflict and help to build stronger working relationships.
V. Both you and the organization you work for will benefit if you deal directly with conflict.
A. Your personal benefits might include:
1. Stronger relationships.
2. Increased self-respect.
3. Personal growth and development.
B. Benefits for the organization might include:
1. Improved efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Creative thinking.
3. Synergy and teamwork.
VI. Kenneth Thomas’s view of conflict management cites five styles of conflict management based upon the concepts of cooperativeness and assertiveness.
A. Competing involves people who are trying to satisfy their own interests at the expense of others involved. This style involves people that are both assertive and uncooperative.
B. In collaborating, the intention is to solve the problem by clarifying differences rather than by accommodating various points-of-view. This style involves people who are assertive but cooperative.
C. Avoiding is demonstrated when a manager chooses to withdraw from a situation in which conflict is likely. This style involves people who are both unassertive and uncooperative.
D. Accommodating involves a manager who is willing to “give in” and “get along,” either to promote the goals of the other person or for the sake of group harmony. This style involves people who are unassertive but cooperative.
E. Compromise occurs when each party to a conflict demonstrates a willingness to give up something in order to promote a solution. This style involves people who are at the midpoint on both assertiveness and cooperativeness.
VII. To achieve many different goals and balance the continual tug of opposing values, you may have to demonstrate skill at each of the five styles of conflict management. As you gather information and assess the situation, here are a number of additional, important considerations and suggestions:
1. Listen, listen, and then listen some more to discover what people are sensitive about.
2. Separate people from the problem.
3. Focus on the real reasons behind the demands, not the demands a negotiator makes.
4. Recognize and accept the feelings of the individuals involved.
5. Keep your own emotions in neutral.
6. Track the conflict to its source.
7. Communicate continually and frankly.
8. Get people together on the small stuff first.
9. Devise options for mutual gain.
10. Define success in terms of gains rather than losses.
11. Follow up on issues, definitions, discussions, data, and details with everyone involved.
12. Know when to cut your losses.
BUSINESS MEETINGS THAT WORK
“People don’t have good meetings because they don’t know what good meetings are like.”
I. Most managers are forced to meet with colleagues because:
A. They are scheduled and attendance is not optional;
B. Participants have ulterior or non-meeting-related motives for attending;
C. They have no other options for achieving their goals.
II. A formal meeting is a communication alternative available when you cannot accomplish
your goals or objectives in any other way.
A. Professional meeting consultants see the following as legitimate reasons for taking people’s time, spending their company’s money, and devoting both energy and effort into a meeting:
1. To motivate;
2. To educate;
3. To recreate;
4. To initiate;
5. To network;
6. To reward.
III. A business meeting is a gathering in which a purposeful exchange or transaction occurs among two or more people with a common interest, purpose, or problem.
A. Think about calling a meeting when you need to:
1. Talk about goals;
2. Listen to reports;
3. Train people;
4. Build morale;
5. Reach a consensus;
6. Gather opinions.
B. Don’t call a meeting when:
1. A key person is not available;
2. Participants do not have the time to prepare;
3. Personality conflicts or the plans of higher management might make the meeting a waste of time.
C. Here are three issues that are essential to the success of any meeting, regardless of size, length, or purpose.
1. The objective.
a. First, consider why you want people to meet face-to-face.
b. Next, validate the objective and potential outcomes to the best of your ability.
2. The agenda.
a. First, prioritize your agenda items.
b. Next, assign realistic amounts of time to each agenda item.
c. Stick to it!
3. The participants.
a. Invite only those people who are directly related to the goals for a meeting.
b. Don’t invite others whose participation is not essential or whose time would be better used doing other things.
D. Here are some additional steps you should consider when planning for a meeting:
1. Arrange for a meeting time, date, and place.
2. Coordinate details at the meeting site.
3. Announce the agenda - unless secrecy is essential.
4. Assign roles such as the facilitator, recorder, leader, and participant.
IV. The style of business meeting you select must fit the preferences of those who will
participate as well as the business needs or the organization.
A. The staff conference: here each team member reports to you on how his or her project is going, answers your questions, and makes recommendations. This works well if you clearly outrank every person in the room.
B. The “Congressional” system: here people just do not talk when they please: it is hands up, like in school, and when everyone has had their say, they vote.
1. This works well when all members are of equal standing.
2. Particularly useful if you have particularly argumentative members or if issues to be discussed are especially contentious.
C. The “House of Commons” system: here although you are clearly the ranking person present, but to make the meeting more democratic you appoint (or have elected) another member to chair the meeting.
1. Saves you planning time.
2. Gives other members leadership experience and encourages subordinates to talk.
V. Avoid the following items to keep your meeting on track:
A. Topic drift.
B. Breaking time agreements. Start the meeting on time and keep to time budgeted for the agenda.
C. Sub-group focus or dialogue among a few members of the group.
VI. Lead by example to get the participants to listen during meetings.
A. Remember each person is entitled to his or her own point of view, but they are not entitled to their own set of facts.
B. Pay attention to your own point of view especially as it relates to others.
C. Remember that considering an issue from many different viewpoints is what makes a team smart.
D. Pay careful attention to what others say so that you can play back their words to them exactly.
E. Hear others with the intention of integrating your point of view with as many others as you can.
F. Think about outcomes for the group and achieving the groups’ goals, not merely your own goals of contributing to the process.
VII. Nonverbal communication can play a key role in the success of your meeting.
A. Here are a few ideas to minimize participation and interruptions:
1. Set up a long, narrow table for a smaller meeting, placing the leader at the end.
2. Choose a seating arrangement that minimizes eye contact between participants (classroom-style seating), where one presenter faces the audience.
3. Create an expectation that speech only comes from the front of the room.
B. Here are a few ideas to maximize participation and collaboration:
1. Choose a round or square table, with the leader seated as a member of the group.
2. For longer meetings, set up chairs in a U-shape, instead of using classroom-style row seating, so that participants face each other.
3. For large groups, arrange banquet-style seating to accommodate five-to-eight, using as many round tables as necessary.
VIII. Writing down ideas during meetings is highly encouraged.
A. In every meeting, someone should be designated to take notes.
B. It is important that these notes are taken from the meeting and turned into actions.
C. 3M Corporation has aided in this process with the development of a digital whiteboard.
MEETING THE MEDIA
“News is what you don’t want to tell me. Everything else is public relations.”
I. Maintaining a positive, honest, accessible relationship with the news media who report on your industry and your company will never be easy, but it will be essential.
II. Your best interests will be well served if you choose to selectively cooperate with reporters and editors who wish to interview you.
A. Here are six ways to prepare yourself for these interactions.
1. Reflect upon why interviews are important.
2. Decide whether or not you should accept the interview.
3. Know what you are getting into with the media.
4. Prepare for the interview .
5. Use preparations to make it happen during the interview.
6. Follow-up with the person who interviewed you.
III. Interviews are important for a number of reasons:
A. They are an unparalleled opportunity to reach a large audience.
B. They represent an opportunity for you to tell your story.
C. They are an opportunity to inform.
1. As a manager, they give you a chance to establish yourself as an expert on certain subjects, or at least as a specialist who knows something about the market, the product category, or the industry.
2. Being friendly with those who are in search of information to support a newsworthy story can buy some goodwill for you when times are more difficult and the story is about you, rather than someone else.
3. If you offer information about your company on a regular basis, chances are much greater that the readers and viewers of those news outlets will
associate your name, your company’s name, and your product or service line with such important attributes as quality, currency, value, and desirability.
D. They offer an opportunity to address public concerns. This is particularly important because, if the public loses confidence in you, your company’s business is done.
E. They give you an opportunity to set the record straight.
F. They offer an opportunity to apologize – if an apology is called for. An apology may or may not reduce the risk of litigation, and there are ways to say you’re sorry without assuming blame. An apology can defuse a situation to your advantage.
G. They are an opportunity to reinforce credibility. It is important in your role as a manager to reinforce public belief in what you do, in what you make or provide, and in who you are as an organization.
IV. Should you or shouldn’t you respond to a reporter’s request for an interview?
A. Here are a few blanket rules:
1. Do not talk to reporters you do not know.
2. Find out who the reporter is and then take some time to gather information, consult with others, and formulate a decision about participating.
3. Be especially wary of cooperating with CBS’s 60 Minutes or other similar entertainment programs. They don’t play by the same set of rules that legitimate news-gathering organizations do.
B. Ask your Public Affairs or Corporate Communication office for help.
C. Get some background before committing.
D. Remember that gut feelings are important. Do not agree to participate if:
1. You don’t trust the reporter;
2. You are not clear on the direction or intent of the story;
3. A reporter tries to high-pressure or blackmail you into cooperation;
4. The nature of the story is so strongly negative that you do not want your name or your company’s name associated with the report.
V. A look at the news media.
A. Remember that the media are a business.
1. Newspapers, magazines, television stations and networks, and radio broadcasters make money not by selling news, but by selling air time and space to commercial advertisers.
2. They are willing to gain revenues by focusing on more controversial stories or by searching for “bad guys.”
B. Different size markets promote different risks.
1. Large markets:
a. It is often more difficult to report good news than bad, especially if that news is routine or does not represent exceptional information.
b. Reporters are much less sensitive to the relationship between advertising and profits.
2. Small markets:
a. Rarely employ reporters who are specialists.
b. A general assignment reporter may know nothing of your business or industry.
C. Remember that reporters do make mistakes. Respond to this situation, but handle it carefully. A reporter’s most important asset is her credibility. Appeal to her sense of professionalism before you move on to the assignment editor or news director.
D. Never demand a retraction or threaten a reporter.
E. It makes a difference if the error is a fact or opinion.
1. If the mistake is an error-in-fact, editors and news directors will be quick to correct it, and will usually do so with an apology.
2. If the mistake is a matter of opinion, it may be difficult or even impossible to get a correction or response from a reporter or broadcaster.
F. Note that very few reporters are influential enough to make key decisions about the stories they cover.
G. Get to know local management to avoid being surprised by bad news.
VI. How to prepare to meet with a reporter or to be interviewed by a journalist.
A. Develop a strategy that addresses the following issues:
1. The goals you hope to achieve by working with local news professionals.
2. The general content of your message.
3. The intended audience for your message.
4. The visuals or photo opportunities you intend to offer.
5. The timing and sequence of events involved in your story.
6. What makes this story different from others?
7. What makes your story newsworthy?
8. The media you plan to work with to tell your story.
9. Review and revise as needed.
B. Research the reporter with whom you have agreed to interview to learn about her style, background knowledge on your company, and other related issues.
C. Refine and practice your message.
D. Confirm the details and ground-rules of the interview.
E. Review the news the day of your interview – you never want to be surprised.
F. Remember, that you are the expert.
VII. When the moment of the interview arrives, here is a final checklist to consider.
A. A prepared pocket card containing key facts and figures, along with current, positive talking points may be of some help.
B. Arrive early, check out the setting.
C. Allow the make-up artists to apply a little light makeup if they offer.
D. Get your points in early.
E. Perform the “Mother-in-Law Test”: ask yourself whether or not your mother-in-law would understand the explanation you have just given.
F. Be yourself.
VIII. Stay in control during an interview because if you lose control you cannot determine the outcome; other people will do that for you.
A. You must focus on your goals for the interview and offer responses that are directed toward those goals.
B. You do not have to accept a reporter’s premise; stick to what you know and repeat your most important contentions.
C. You do not need to reveal everything, but what you do say should be honest, accurate, and reliable.
D. Avoid arguments by staying calm, under control, and professional.
E. You are always on the record.
F. Use examples, illustrations, and brief anecdotes that people can easily envision or identify with.
G. If you cannot speak to the questions, refocus the question or speak to the issue.
IX. Follow-up with your press interview so that you can learn, grow, and improve your
A. Review the article or tape and look carefully at the way the story came together.
B. Keep the chain of command informed about every interview you do.
C. Provide feedback to the reporter who interviewed you to either complement their work or to discuss what went wrong.
D. Leave a record for your successor.
1. Take a few minutes to draft a memo for the record explaining how the request for the interview developed, what the key issues were, who was involved, where the interview took place, and what your impressions were.
2. Include a copy of the article or video tape.