I had the opportunity to have an in-depth personal interview session with Mr. Danny Lau, the Vice President and Corporate Controller of the Company that I am currently working. Danny hired me three years ago to work as the Financial Controller for the Company’s Hong Kong operations. I need to report both to Danny and his boss, the CFO of the organization. Danny, unlike me, has been with this Company for about 8 years and he has 15 more years of work experience. I respect Danny a lot as he always know how to deal with conflict and get out of a conflict situation like a leader who can impress everyone.
He does notice that I do not handle the conflict situation professionally as I always try to avoid it first. In one incident, I was so upset with a colleague about her high power tactics toward myself in finding a possible solution for the organization. I really want to quit my job and move on to other organizations. I believe I can do better anywhere without taking all these non senses from that colleague. Danny mentioned from his experience that he has so many ups and downs in his career also. The thing that I need to learn is not to avoid conflict and do not think that you can get away from it.
He said even if I move to another firm, there is no guarantee that I won’t face the similar type of conflict again. Is it premature to give up on the conflict so easily? The key is to learn about the skill to work with the conflict and still come out for everyone to feel like win-win. He also mentioned collaborating process is for everyone to get the most beneficial aspect out of the conflict situation (Personal Interview, 2005). Before I attended this High Performance Management course and the personal interview with Danny, I always thought that compromise was the best approach in a conflict management process.
I hear all this buss word about compromising in so many situations and I would think this is the best solution to conflict. In reality, compromising is only for participant to seek an expedient but not effective solutions (Lecture Notes, 5/23/2005). “We can’t stress enough the power of collaboration. We must all recognize that collaboration – whether in school, business, sports, health care, or government – produces more gains than trying to beat the stuffing out of someone or something” (Kouzes and Posner, 2002, p. 286).
A personal face-to-face interview was completed with Mr. Danny Lau on June 15, 2005. Mr. Danny Lau is my direct report and he works at ASAT Limited for more than 8 years as Vice President and Corporate Controller. I met Danny in his office for about 45 minutes late evening as his office is next to my office. We discussed about my shortcomings in management skill as a Financial Controller under his team. We both identified and agreed that the skill for managing conflict is my weakest area that I need to improve upon.
There were few incidents in the past that I did not handle the conflict situation properly with other departments and it ended up to damage the morale of my team. Danny provided me some insights how to deal with people, conflicts and similar issues in this organization. An action plan is also created and it is used evaluate the progress in the next three months. Danny was surprise that I brought this issue and interview process up myself. He is more than willing to help me to tackle my weak area in management.
The manager should step in when the conflict has escalated to the point where the parties are at a deadlock or when it is negatively influencing the rest of the team or the customers. The best first step is to ask a lot of questions to get an exact diagnosis of a discontent about a workmate: What, exactly, did she do or say? How is it influencing your work? Other’s work? The customer? This will help me indicate the seriousness and settle if he/she should get involved. What have you done so far to improve it? How do you intend to solve it?
Once I have the answers to questions like these, I will have a better feel for both sides of the issue. The biggest mistake managers make is to take one employee’s side over another, without inspecting the whole issue first. The second-biggest mistake they make is to begin to ask the other employee and start solving the problem (Ciampa, 2005). Within this conversation, you will spot areas where the complainer needs coaching. For instance, possibly the person doesn’t have all the facts or maybe he or she is an equal part of the problem.
Following that, I will send the employee back to attempt to resolve it on his own. The manager should give him peculiar strategies to use. Finally, the manager should say, “After your conversation, I’d like you to return and let me know how it went. ” This not only holds the person responsible for having the conversation, it also gives the manager another opportunity to coach the person, if it didn’t go as well as planned. It will assist the employee feel supported, not brushed off. Conclusion High-performing teams undergo many conflicts.
They also realise the value of working conflicts through to resolution. Striving to achieve true agreement, they address both personality and work-related conflict straightway. When you sense that team members are trying to ignore or smooth over a conflict, don’t let them take the easy way out. The long-term effect of saying “Hey, no problem” is destructive. As the manager, I can make an important contribution by playing the harmonizer. My primary intervention in this role is to get the issue out on the table and shift the team from a problem-avoidance mode to a problem-solving method.
It is not necessarily to know the solution; the manager has to use the team resources for that. The harmonizer helps the team to embrace and welcome conflict as a chance to grow and develop.
Ciampa, D. “Almost Ready: How Leaders Move” in January 2005 Harvard Business Review, 2005. Green, S. Lecture on “Managing Conflict” on May 28, 2005. Hannagan, T. Management Concepts & Practices. Great Britain: Pitman Publishing, 1995. Kouzes, J. M. and Posner, B. Z. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.