Our unique service called conflict facilitation provides an effective line of sight for working through conflict. We developed this service in response to clients who were looking for an agile alternative to traditional forms of dispute resolution.
Conflict facilitation is not mediation, since we do not resolve conflict through the use of specialised communication and negotiation techniques. Instead, we work directly with the participants themselves.
This bespoke service emphasises “being real”. When participants “try out” trust-building behaviours that build trust, and they experience the power of this, it becomes part of the solution in working effectively with one another. The process is dynamic, agile and effective.
Conflict facilitation is effective for both long-standing and acute conflicts. Often these conflicts manifest when important work-based information that is integral to the performance of one or both participants is withheld. On occasions, the participants may have been close friends, so emotions can run high. Either way, the conflict has reached an unsustainable boiling point because someone’s performance is being negatively affected. Our work invariably produces beneficial results for all concerned: the immediate participants as well as those who are being negatively affected.
How we provide conflict facilitation that gets results
We work with middle to senior executives who are experiencing interpersonal conflict in their business environment that is inhibiting their performance and wellbeing.
We employ a coaching approach to conflict facilitation, and design a trusting environment within which private and confidential conversations take place. We tailor the conversations and tools we use to leverage the potential of the participants’ relationship.
To ensure all stakeholders are on the same page, we also undertake a three-way conversation between ourselves, the participants, and their managers. This conversation emphasises “what will be positively and measurably different” as the result of our facilitation.
At the outset, we have robust conversations with each participant to determine how ready they are for the engagement/intervention, especially if they have not asked for this intervention. We ask questions around their preparedness, self-honesty or openness, desire to change, and learning focus. This helps us to determine the starting point for conflict facilitation.
Where it adds value, we will also have pre-approved conversations with those negatively affected, preferably with the participant present. This emphasises, without apportioning blame, the link between the participant’s behaviour and the impact it is having. Often this is the first time that participants have focused on the impact of their behaviour from others’ perspectives.
We provide an interim prognosis of success, based on the size of the gap between the participant’s perception and the views of those affected by the participant.
Occasionally, we bow out, if we believe that we are not the facilitator who will produce positive results. And our clients appreciate our candour.
Why it works
Much of the conversation is around participants tapping into the aspirations and possibilities for their relationship, rather than poking through the vestiges of the past – i.e. “what happened” that led us to be at this table. We don’t ignore the past, we just don’t feed it.
The facilitator gives feed-forward to each participant, in a no-blame way. Participants are also encouraged to help each other make the line-of-sight connections between intention, attention, action and impact.
Power is vested in the participants rather than the facilitator. We focus the spotlight of attention on the responsibility of participants, rather than relying on the facilitator to provide or originate solutions. The facilitator is the capable steward of the process.
There are exercises (fieldwork) between facilitated sessions. Fieldwork is co-created and agreed to by the participants. It gives real practical advantage to building the relationship.
“Toni provided insights and tools to assist in overcoming misunderstandings and interpersonal conflict at a senior management level occurring during a tense period of business development in our software start-up. In a series of interactive sessions Toni allowed us to gain a better understanding of the others’ point of view, especially as it related to the personal drivers and stresses in each other’s lives, and how this impacted on individual business decisions … The outcome was an improved atmosphere in the office and cordial relations in the following years.”
(This is a genuine testimonial. We have withheld the client’s identity to maintain confidentiality in this situation. They are happy for you to know who they are if it is integral to your decision as to whether to use this service. Contact Toni for further details.)
Benefits of conflict facilitation
Our conflict facilitation service results in quantifiable savings of time, energy and money. The process is relatively paperless and is typically completed within a two to three-month period, depending on the participants’ availability. Three weeks has been the shortest period for facilitation, in our experience.
Participants take ownership of the process. This is because from the outset, self-insight, self-responsibility and accountability are emphasised.
Participants hone their conversational agility skills, holding them in good stead for better and sustained relationships in the future. Because of this, they readily become independent from the coach in both thought and action.
Tools we use for conflict facilitation work
- Conversational Intelligence® Enhanced Practitioner (Toni is becoming credentialed)
- The research and Relationship Awareness (RAT) tool of Elias Porter (PhD)
- The Team Role distinctions of Meredith Belbin (PhD)
- The conflict management principles and tools within The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- Stephen Covey (PhD) – Relationship Principles
- Where relevant, a bespoke 180-degree interview/survey of the impact of the participants’ behaviour on others.
If you and your colleagues are looking for an agile line of sight to effectively steer through conflict, then get in touch with us.