I will be facilitating a project meeting between two team members whom I think are basing their conflict on a misunderstanding. I suggested that we have a meeting between the two team members to find a solution on their problem. To cut the story short, these two guys have a problem with the system reports. One is claiming that the reports are on the system and while the other one on the other side is convinced that some of the reports are not there. They have used strong language to one another on several occasions. My proposal was that we all sit down and go through these reports on the system and see where the problem lies. I do not want either one of them feeling exposed during this session. How do I make sure that this does not happen?
The Team Doc Says…
You are wise to get these two team members together to discuss this issue. Conflict in a team is not a bad thing. Unresolved conflict, however, can infect a team and keep them from being effective.
The key to having a conflict discussion is to ensure that the participants focus on the issue, not the person. As the facilitator it’s your responsibility to create the right environment for that to happen. That means you’ll need to lay down some ground rules about acceptable behavior at the beginning of the conflict discussion and as the discussion progresses, you’ll have to make sure those ground rules are followed.
It would be a good idea to talk to both team members in advance of the meeting, advise them of your plans to establish some conflict discussion ground rules and ask them to put some thought into what they believe the facts of the issue are. You should also ask them to jot down what they believe to be an acceptable outcome to this discussion. They can bring these thoughts with them to the meeting. You should prepare in advance also.
A good process to use for your discussion would be:
Open —-> Clarify —-> Develop —-> Agree —-> Close
- Open: Initiate the discussion by focusing on the problem not the person.
- Clarify: Define the problem in neutral terms.
- Develop: Identify alternatives and solutions.
- Agree: Evaluate the alternatives to determine a “win-win” outcome.
- Close: Verify commitment. Create an action plan to implement the solution.
Below is a downloadable version of the conflict resolution process along with a conflict guide you can print to help you plan your meeting.
Conflict Discussion Guide – Get more Business Documents