Our comprehensive approach to conflict management is informed by decades of scientific research and enables us to meet our clients anywhere they are in their need to more effectively manage conflict, from defusing common sources of conflict before they ignite to constraining the spread of emerging or escalating conflict.
Managing conflict well requires understanding the contribution of context and people to a conflict situation and how to influence both to achieve desired outcomes. As organizational psychologists, our doctoral specialization uniquely equips us to address both the contextual and the people elements inherent in workplace conflict. Our three-pronged approach to conflict management is grounded in scientific evidence and a deep understanding of people in work contexts. We call it the ABC's of Conflict Management .
Effectively managing conflict starts with anticipating knowable sources of conflict and defusing them with tactics that work—before they ignite. Drawing on decades of research findings regarding conflicts in the workplace, industry-specific reports, and clients insights, we help our clients anticipate knowable conflict triggers in response to organizational change such as leadership change, strategic change, team formation or reformation, and strategic partnerships. Then we develop a road map to turn conflict triggers into opportunities for building and strengthening relationships with a range of high-impact interventions that fit each organization's culture, values, and needs.
Conflict is inevitable whenever people work together. How people respond to their differences is critical to whether conflict will lead to positive outcomes, such as higher quality decisions, or to value-destroying outcomes, such as the loss of key people. Unfortunately, research suggests that people at all levels in the organization are likely to default to overused, personality-driven responses to conflict, rather than situationally-appropriate responses, leading to results that are nonoptimal at best. We help leaders, teams, and entire organizations increase their ability to respond flexibly to conflict by placing dual emphasis on building individual skills and a facilitative work climate. Our approach enables our clients to begin realizing immediate value from their investment as people develop skills and are prompted by contextual cues to put them into practice in every interaction.
When conflict develops, it is contagious and can swiftly spread, infecting teams, departments, and entire organizations with negative emotions, side-taking, and coalition formation. Our approach to deescalating and constraining the spread of conflict draws on research and best practices to diagnose the conflict situation to ensure the real issues are being addressed, intervene to address the highest impact issues in the shortest timeframe, and prevent future conflict by leveraging lessons learned.
Although each prong can be implemented independently, a best practices approach will contain evidence-based initiatives with all three objectives in view. By implementing our ABC's approach to conflict management, organizations are better positioned to reap the benefits of conflict while avoiding its destructive downsides.