[Advice] You Get The Conflict Culture You Hire For

The fact of the matter is, organizations get the conflict culture that they hire for.

If organizations hire for avoidance, they get that.

If organizations hire for aggressiveness, they get that.

But so many organizations don’t consider conflict culture.

That is, until they are in litigation, mediation, or negotiation, over a problem that could have been solved if they had hired employees at every level in the organization more intentionally in the first place.


Hire more intentionally.

[Strategy] 1…2…3…What Are You Hiring For?

Entrepreneurs (some of them) remember what business owners of all types have forgotten, at scale:

You get the conflict culture you hire for.

Think about it.

If you hire people that are looking for the organization to guide them to another level in their careers, past self-doubts, bumps in the road, dips in projects, and changes in the economy, you will create a resilient employee culture.

If you hire people that are looking for reassurances, permission, the answer to “Is this going to be in the test?,” and people who want to be paid extra to give extra, don’t be surprised when your conflict culture is based in avoidance, delaying, surrender, and a lack of responsibility and hiding.

If you hire people that are empathetic, focused on others and their experiences (customers, clients, etc.), who can make courageous decisions and take action in the face of a lack of standard operating procedures, but still justify those decisions in the context of advancing organizational goals, values, and growing the brand promise, then you have created an organizational culture that people (customers, clients, etc.) will cry out for.

The trouble is that with 20th century mass production came mass hiring. With mass hiring the organizational idea grew that your organization wasn’t doing well, unless it hired everybody in a given pool based on factors that had little to do with your organizational culture, e.g. they lived close, they had the “right” credentials, they answered the questions in the interview in the “right” way.

Well, the era of being able to accomplish goals and do work at scale that matters with just anybody off the street, has passed; and, what has replaced it is ever smaller groups of people, doing more and more work that matters, using emotional intelligence, caring, resilience, and empathy to manage the inevitable conflicts that come with change.

If you want your organizational conflict culture to look—and people in it to have the courage to act—in a transformational manner, and be successful in an ambiguous business future, then hire for it.


But don’t complain that you can’t get where all the other organizations are getting, with customer and client awareness, attention, trust, and revenues, when you don’t hire for those outcomes.

And don’t complain when your “best” people leave the conflict culture that you hired for, for a more robust culture across the street.


[Strategy] KPIs for Your Conflict Management Skills Training

Effective conflict management should be a consistently pursued leadership competency in all organizations.

Often though, it’s not even pursued.

Or, even worse when it is pursued, it’s relegated to attending a one off workshop, or seminar over a weekend with little to no follow-up. Neither of these realities  lead to lasting changes in the ways that employees choose to react and respond to conflicts occuring in their organizational cultures.

This happens for many reasons.

And typically, the feedback that the conflict management expert receives during the workshop is “Well, all this seems like it would work. But it all seems so indefinable.” This piece of feedback reveals the challenge that many organizations have, when pulling people off the floor, off assignment, and away from work, to attend HR mandated diversity trainings and other offerings.

And those are offerings that are mandated to keep organizations out of regulatory trouble, out of litigation and open for business.

Conflict management trainings, conflict communication trainings and conflict resolution trainings are not mandated in many organizations, and thus are seen as “nice-to-haves,” by supervisors, managers and others.

Kind of like marketing.

The fact of the matter is, the impact of unresolved conflicts on turnover, productivity, decision making, retention and innovation efforts, touches internal stakeholders (i.e. employees) directly. And in a world where more and more product is produced by fewer and fewer people, human capital must be managed properly and effectively. And the outcomes of that management must be measured, tracked and analyzed more effectively.

There are three key ways to do this, and they should be established before sending off employees to another “nice-to-have” training:

Establish benchmarks and attainable goals—What do you want your employees to understand, appreciate and implement from the conflict management training you are sending them to?

Just wanting the “conflict” to “end” and for everybody to “get back to work” isn’t a benchmark of success in any meaningful sense of the word. Without definable, organizationally based benchmarks and goals, the chances that your organization will be in litigation—or in a mandated rather than voluntary training situation in the future–increase exponentially.

Implement outcomes from the training—Without implementation of practical skills, attained through conflict management training exercises and facilitation, the fact of the matter is that many employees will revert to what’s comfortable, what “feels” right and what is immediate.

They will do this for a number of reasons: lack of organizational support, a desire for the perceived security from predictable conflict outcomes, or just plain old fear. Active implementation (and support) of the results and learning  from conflict resolution, management and communication trainings, increases employee buy-in and productivity and decreases the measurable costs of conflict in increased litigation, increased health care costs and decreased productivity.

Enable supervisors and managers—Here’s a smaple scenario: Employee X goes to conflict resolution training because they can’t get along with Employee Y. They were told to go after their last performance review from Supervisor N. Supervisor N told them “This is your last chance, so we need to see some changes—or we’re going to have to implement some changes.”

Employee X, filled with dread, attends the two day training on Thursday, enjoys the training, feels good about the training all weekend, and goes back to work on Monday. Supervisor N later on Monday, casually asks Employee X “Well, how was it?”

And that’s the extent of the follow-up until the next performance review.

Thus, Employee X has no idea if they succeeded or failed, if they have any support in the organization to implement what was covered in the workshop, and has no idea if they are going to keep their job or not. And, Supervisor N, who didn’t attend the training or review the material with the trainer, has no knowledge to implement follow-up, no understanding of what was talked about during the training and no way to measure success or failure in the employee.

This is not an uncommon scenario.

The solution is to enable supervisors and managers to attend trainings, review materials and be  involved in the benchmarking and goal setting process for success with the employee, rather than acting as a bystander in the employee’s development.

The outcomes of conflict management training may seem undefinable, but that’s only if the organization chooses to allow them to remain so. This choice reflects cultural issues and cultural choices orgnaizations have become comfortable with over time. Shifting out of these comfort zones requires everyone to be on board, from the lowest entry-level employee, all the way to the executives in the suites.

It is often believed that training in conflict is a “soft skill” and thus relegated to the back burner in many organizations. But the hard metrics of success and development in lowering employee turnover, increasing employee retention, encouraging employee productivity and decision making and driving innovation, yield dividends that can be seen all over the bottom line.

Download the new FREE eBook courtesy of Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), Assumptions and Expectations by clicking the link here

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] KPIs for Conflict Resolution Skills Training

We talked about KPI’s (key performance indicators) for New Years’ Resolutions toward the end of 2013.

It was pointed out to us at a workshop recently that, while our content was compelling and valuable, there seemed to be no KPI’s or metrics to indicate to the organization (or any organization that would hire us) that our training had any long-term value.

Good point.

As a result, we went back and though about our recent posts on CRaaS (here and here) and how to integrate conflict resolution skills training into the workplace, and came up with some relevant KPI’s and metrics.

Follow along with us:

  • The primary KPI for conflict resolution training is to measure changes in levels engagement at the supervisory/management level. This can primarily be accomplished through having reports and higher-ups engage in 360 degree evaluations with special emphasis on conversations with impacted employees, with a particular focus on quality, frequency and type.
  • The second way to measure performance improvement at the entry and mid-level positions, is by tracking reductions in registered complaints and concerns, reductions in reported and perceived conflicts and tracking reductions in sick day/vacation day usage by entry level employees, interns and others who are front facing but rarely receive training or mentorship.
  • Finally, measuring increases in productivity is hard. However, increased customer engagement, overall employee satisfaction and measuring employee retention, goes a long way toward measuring the efficacy of conflict resolution skills training in your organization.

Of course, if you don't want to measure in these three areas, you could always track reductions in lawsuits and litigation efforts by employees, supervisors, managers, customers and others.