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Old 10.03.2009, 09:36
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Conflict resolution interview question

Another interview question? How would/do you resolve conflicts? Looked this up on google, and got the following rules.
1. Stay cool/calm- do not get angry, especially with communications mediums like email.
2. Stay focused/stick to facts- ie make sure you do not lets a disagreement turn into a general slanging match.
3. Look for common points on which to try to bring yourself/other parties together.

But hey wanted some real world experience and thought I ask the EF their experiences? How do ou deal with conflicts? How have you solved differences in the past? with collegues? Between co-workers?
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Old 10.03.2009, 09:39
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

I always try to move forward and not bicker about the small details.
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Old 10.03.2009, 09:47
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Another interview question? How would/do you resolve conflicts? Looked this up on google, and got the following rules.
1. Stay cool/calm- do not get angry, especially with communications mediums like email.
2. Stay focused/stick to facts- ie make sure you do not lets a disagreement turn into a general slanging match.
3. Look for common points on which to try to bring yourself/other parties together.

But hey wanted some real world experience and thought I ask the EF their experiences? How do ou deal with conflicts? How have you solved differences in the past? with collegues? Between co-workers?
I would say that all three points give a trait to a good project manager/project leader/team leader. However I see points 2 and 3 are very important: stick to the facts and try to wite down all common points which will bring all the parties together. This will be entry point to start the discussion and here is an example:

Once upon a time we had a disagreement about some stuff in our team and we didn't know how to proceed further. One of the colleagues addressed it to the team leader who immediately convened a meeting. We discussed all the cons and pros openly, he wrote down the minutes and subsequently we all followed our new plan.
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Old 10.03.2009, 12:19
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Another interview question? How would/do you resolve conflicts? Looked this up on google, and got the following rules.
1. Stay cool/calm- do not get angry, especially with communications mediums like email.
2. Stay focused/stick to facts- ie make sure you do not lets a disagreement turn into a general slanging match.
3. Look for common points on which to try to bring yourself/other parties together.

But hey wanted some real world experience and thought I ask the EF their experiences? How do ou deal with conflicts? How have you solved differences in the past? with collegues? Between co-workers?
Avoid getting emotions involved, try putting yourself in the shoes of the other side and understanding his / her perspective(s) hoping that the other does likewise, and finally agree to disagree if all else fails.
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Old 10.03.2009, 12:23
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

Ideally the disagreement should be resolved by a consensus between all stakeholders since it's when everyone is aligned that you have better chances of all functions implementing the plan wholeheartedly and successfully.

BUT there will be cases when the ideas/options will be in opposition to each other or there cannot be a compromise between the two (or three options) without sacrificing its effectivity and so in such cases, the leader (or most senior manager in the group who is heading the project) should BE THE LEADER and make the judgement call (of course it should be an informed one).
At the end of the day, s/he is ultimately accountable for the success or the failure of the team...Of course s/he should still explain the rationale for the decision so at least all his subordinates don't feel totally over-ruled and unimportant.

just my 2 cents.. I have real world examples but I'm guessing you're not interested in situations in my field.

Last edited by Divegurl; 10.03.2009 at 12:25. Reason: spell check
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Old 10.03.2009, 12:42
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Ideally the disagreement should be resolved by a consensus between all stakeholders since it's when everyone is aligned that you have better chances of all functions implementing the plan wholeheartedly and successfully.

BUT there will be cases when the ideas/options will be in opposition to each other or there cannot be a compromise between the two (or three options) without sacrificing its effectivity and so in such cases, the leader (or most senior manager in the group who is heading the project) should BE THE LEADER and make the judgement call (of course it should be an informed one).
At the end of the day, s/he is ultimately accountable for the success or the failure of the team...Of course s/he should still explain the rationale for the decision so at least all his subordinates don't feel totally over-ruled and unimportant.

just my 2 cents.. I have real world examples but I'm guessing you're not interested in situations in my field.
Actually, I agree with you. The internet points are fine in theory but in practice things can go off the rails and people get to the stage where they've drawn lines in the sand and their egos won't let them back down. When its got to the stage where people are just going head to head, someone needs to step in or be invited to step in to provide leadership and unlock the deadlock or an awful lot of time will be wasted. The intervention doesn't always have to involve imposing some top down decision on the group. I had an old boss who used to tell his management team that he paid us to solve problems and if we couldn't do it, then he'd replace us with someone who could. It usually worked.
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Old 10.03.2009, 13:13
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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I had an old boss who used to tell his management team that he paid us to solve problems and if we couldn't do it, then he'd replace us with someone who could. It usually worked.
This is good. A bit pass the buck, but good.
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Old 10.03.2009, 13:35
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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This is good. A bit pass the buck, but good.
Nah, he was quite happy to make the decisions himself if he had to and whoever made the decision, once the team decided and he endorsed it, the buck always stopped with him if things didn't work out. He always backed up his team. He was that kind of boss. I think his point was more along the lines of "the first rule of management is delegation. Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't" or "it's no use having a dog and barking yourself"
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Old 10.03.2009, 13:41
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Another interview question? How would/do you resolve conflicts? Looked this up on google, and got the following rules.
1. Stay cool/calm- do not get angry, especially with communications mediums like email.
2. Stay focused/stick to facts- ie make sure you do not lets a disagreement turn into a general slanging match.
3. Look for common points on which to try to bring yourself/other parties together.

But hey wanted some real world experience and thought I ask the EF their experiences? How do ou deal with conflicts? How have you solved differences in the past? with collegues? Between co-workers?
A book / seminar that has helped me A LOT in the past:

Crucial Conversations
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-Conv...6688848&sr=8-1
and
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-Conf...6688848&sr=8-2

Their Web site with some free info is here:

http://www.vitalsmarts.com/
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Old 10.03.2009, 13:44
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

There are some conflicts that are easy to resolve and some that are hard. The easy ones seem to already have a framework to solve them like a meeting or a leader who can make the ultimate decision.

That hard conflicts are the ones that have no final arbiter and no existing framework to resolve them. For example, your teenage daughter wants to stay out late and you do not want her to. As a parent you can always enforce your decision by fiat, but that has a negative impact on your relationship with your daughter if she feels you make arbitrary rules that only exist for your convenience as opposed to protect her.

Conflict resolution is mostly about the personalities. Despite everyone agreeing that a logical decision should be made, the resolution and the process to reach it is about emotions. This is true even if the final resolution is justified with a logical rationale.

Some tips:
1. Be ready to be wrong. If you walk into a conflict with anything less than a genuine desire to find the best possible mutual resolution then the resolution process is going to be difficult. Most people walk into a conflict saying they want to find a common resolution, but secretly desiring to be proved right.
2. Start with the heart (stolen from "Crucial Conversations"). Actually care about the other person and find out not just what they really want, but why they want it. This desire to help them will come through in your dealings and help them with # 3 below
3. Make the other person feel comfortable. A threatened person will most likely oppose anything you suggest since they doubt your motives. By making someone feel comfortable they will open up, reveal their true motives and be more open to creative solutions.
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Old 10.03.2009, 14:40
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Nah, he was quite happy to make the decisions himself if he had to and whoever made the decision, once the team decided and he endorsed it, the buck always stopped with him if things didn't work out. He always backed up his team. He was that kind of boss. I think his point was more along the lines of "the first rule of management is delegation. Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't" or "it's no use having a dog and barking yourself"
Sounds like a good guy. For sure in a management position try and remain the judge/mediator rather than be a member of the prosecution or defense as long as possible (not this does not equal abdicating responsibility)

Once you are sucked into the maelstrom, head on attacks generally not helpful. Better to find common ground and build from that, not forgetting to revisit basic points (it's crazy how often big arguments stem from failures of common understaning of the facts vs opinion).

Finally structuring your points in sentences such as "I feel..."/"I would like..." can be a good way of raising sensitive topics in a non confrontational manner. eg "I feel that we should consider x y and z before deciding" is generally better than "I wont agree unless you change the plan to take account of x y and z" and equally assertive in fact.

D
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Old 31.07.2009, 15:59
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

Actually, I was the one who asked the question in the interview(as the interviewee)-not sure if it was a good idea but on one of these career sites, they suggest that you also get a feel if the co-orporate culture is going to suit you-anyway, it was a good try...what do you guys think?
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Old 31.07.2009, 16:15
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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Actually, I was the one who asked the question in the interview(as the interviewee)-not sure if it was a good idea but on one of these career sites, they suggest that you also get a feel if the co-orporate culture is going to suit you-anyway, it was a good try...what do you guys think?
That's very true about working in coorporate environement where you have to "fight for your right" in a sense that you mustn't let others trample you down. It doesn't suit every individual though. As an example back in SA we used to have quite a dynamic environment and especially at the departmental meetings people used to attack each other on work related issues where you always had to be a tough cookie. That time I used to be a rookie entering the coorporate world becuase I was more orientated towards individual type of work. The moment you become exposed to team work you have to be ready for better and for worse to put your foot down. No matter it is on one continet or the other the rules of the game are similar. You either fit in there or you have to back off. Luckily here in Switzerland although some people seem like workwise they would eat each other but the disputes get resolved more diplomatically. The best is to stick to the facts, follow company policies and tackle the issues professionally.
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Old 31.07.2009, 16:28
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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That's very true about working in coorporate environement where you have to "fight for your right" in a sense that you mustn't let others trample you down. It doesn't suit every individual though. As an example back in SA we used to have quite a dynamic environment and especially at the departmental meetings people used to attack each other on work related issues where you always had to be a tough cookie. That time I used to be a rookie entering the coorporate world becuase I was more orientated towards individual type of work. The moment you become exposed to team work you have to be ready for better and for worse to put your foot down. No matter it is on one continet or the other the rules of the game are similar. You either fit in there or you have to back off. Luckily here in Switzerland although some people seem like workwise they would eat each other but the disputes get resolved more diplomatically. The best is to stick to the facts, follow company policies and tackle the issues professionally.
That's exactly why I prefer to work at a small company. I'd prefer to just get on with my job than have loads of meetings about doing it. Politics and covering your ar*se ain't fun either.
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Old 31.07.2009, 16:56
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

The reason I asked this was because there was an issue at my former company where it became quite passive-aggressive and i tried to speak one-on-one( without resorting to a slanging match or the passive-aggressive stuff) to resolve the issue. Apparently, that's a big no-no as one is seen as overstepping one's role or even as too aggressive( go figure).
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Old 31.07.2009, 18:10
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

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But hey wanted some real world experience and thought I ask the EF their experiences? How do ou deal with conflicts? How have you solved differences in the past? with collegues? Between co-workers?
I usually smack the most annoying one until they stop complaining. Simple but effective.

I don't get many second interviews, though, so you may want to follow another approach.
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Old 31.07.2009, 18:36
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

Try the Brian Clough method of management:

Quote:
"Ask him which way he thinks it should be done. We get down to it and then we talk about it for twenty minutes and then we decide I was right"
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Old 31.10.2011, 09:07
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

Hi,

Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.

Tks again and pls keep posting.
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Old 31.10.2011, 09:19
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

The approach to conflict resolution depends on the conflict.

If it is a personality or ego based conflict, it should be able to be resolved with the team lead or manager and those involved in a open meeting formate, bearing in mind all the comments made on this post previously i.e. keeping in mind the main objectives and what all parties have in common and what they are trying to achieve as a team. If egos still prevail, then the boss has to earn her money and make a decision that is best for the business, and the team.

If the conflict is about business rules or processes then you might want to get recommendations from your team, confirm the rule still applies and you are not "just doing it the way we have always done it". Then suggest a trial period with set deliverables as a measurement of success or not. This helps to keep creative processes flowing and implement business improvements as the business evolves.
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Old 31.10.2011, 09:21
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Re: Conflict resolution interview question

What are the chances to randomly get the correct answer to this question:
- 25%
- 50%
- 60%
- 25%
Good luck.
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