I’ll never forget a question I kept getting from an Associate. I never had a good answer (or an answer at all). The question stuck in my brain: “What does MBM have to say about conflict resolution?” It’s only in the past couple of months that I’ve heard stories about conflict resolution in an MBM organization. These are “sea stories” told around various groups, so I didn’t experience them personally. They serve as illustrations of how one might handle conflict resolution not detailed instructions.
Conflict Resolution: When Two People Don’t Like Each Other and Everyone Knows It
Imagine a workplace where there are two people who don’t like each other and everyone knows it. It’s commonplace to joke about “John” and “Jane” fighting like cats and dogs. One day the situation boils over. There’s yelling, tears and aggressive body language. The supervisor stops everything and takes “John” and “Jane” into his office.
Once “John” and “Jane” have calmed down a bit, the supervisor pulls out the MBM Guiding Principles. He tells them to take a few days off of work, read the Guiding Principles and to come back 3-4 days later only if they agree to act consistently with the Guiding Principles. “John” and “Jane” leave the work site immediately. There’s no conversation about who is to blame or the past wrongs. Four days later, both “John” and “Jane” are back at work. It’s not that they are best friends, and I would wager there was lingering tension. However, from that point forward, their supervisor could hold them accountable to the Guiding Principles instead of being an umpire.
Conflict Resolution: When Two People Don’t Like Each Other and (almost) NOBODY Knows It
Imagine being a part of a project team with a strong leader. Let’s call her Abby. Abby is experienced and knows her stuff. As a part of the project team is a more experienced and equally capable long-term employee. Let’s call him Jay. The project has a lifespan of about six months. The team works well, exceeds expectations and hits the deadline. You’re impressed by the culture of the team, especially when it comes to challenge. To celebrate, you invite everyone out to dinner. When talking to Jay, he asks you if Abby will be attending. When you say she will be attending, you can tell Jay takes that under serious consideration.
Later, you tell one of your co-workers about Jay’s strange reaction. This co-worker has been around for awhile and tells you that Jay and Abby don’t like each other. It’s shocking to you. When you say, “They work so well together!” Your co-worker responds, “Years ago, they admitted to a personality conflict, but committed to work together… AND they take the Guiding Principles of Respect and Humility very seriously.” The person who told me this story was shocked the two didn’t like each other because they treated one another so well.
Have you heard stories about using the tools and/or principles of MBM to resolve conflict? Leave your stories in the comments or send me an email.