Chief Learning Officer magazine is a trademark of Mediatec Publishing Inc. All clomedia.com and Chief Learning Officer magazine content Copyright 2013 MediaTec Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. It is illegal to copy, reproduce or publish any information contained on clomedia.com or in Chief Learning Officer magazine without express written permission from MediaTec Publishing Inc.
Creating Conflict Competent Organizations
Talent leaders and the employees they support should work to learn more about how they currently respond to conflict. Through interviews and the use of behaviorally focused assessments, they can discover conflict triggers, and then reflect on their typical responses. This helps to clarify which responses work well and which ones need to be adjusted to achieve more productive outcomes.
William Rusak, former executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), said understanding conflict is critical to improve employees’ ability to manage it, particularly in the corrections field. He launched a leadership program in 2008 for CCA’s management that focused on dealing with conflict more effectively. “Better self-awareness about reactions to conflict helped our senior staff alter ineffective behaviors that had been contributing to destructive conflicts,” Rusak said. “It improved interpersonal relationships, enhanced teamwork and [reduced] distractions.”
Much of the literature on conflict management focuses on how people should behave when they face conflict. While this is important, a necessary prerequisite is the ability to manage one’s emotions. As long as a person is under the grip of strong negative emotions, he or she will find it difficult to use constructive conflict responses.
People may admit they have emotions in response to conflict, but they are often reluctant to express them for fear of looking weak. Organizational norms rarely support sharing emotions in conflict settings. It is as though there is a large invisible sign at the front door that reads, “Check your emotions here.” Yet suppression is often the worst strategy to regulate emotions.
The connection between emotional intelligence and effective conflict management also is important. Improved self-awareness about conflict triggers or hot buttons is a first step, and self-management skills also are critical. An article in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, “The Neural Bases of Distraction and Reappraisal,” discussed the use of reappraisal or reframing techniques to help lessen the intensity of negative emotions. Research has shown the use of centering techniques also is practical and effective.
Leveraging the Latest in Brain Science to Deliver the Next Generation of E-Learning
May 29th 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
Get the Magazine