Conflict coaching (for individuals or for groups)
CEDR conflict coaches work on a confidential basis with people at all organisational levels, helping them to develop their interpersonal relationship skills, and to modify or adapt their management styles or to deal with difficult and sensitive situations, whether in a manager-subordinate or peer conflict, or in times of change or intense challenge.
Benefits which CEDR conflict coaches can bring include:
- Communication - helping individuals to re-engage with each other after a dispute or period of difficulty in their relationship, making any reconciliation workable and sustainable
- Creative problem solving - encouraging individuals to think differently about a problem or difficulty, leading to new insights or solutions
- Personal empowerment - assisting individuals develop the confidence to resolve long-standing dilemmas
- Support - serving as a trusted independent professional and confidant to an individual or team undertaking a difficult task or managing a transition
- Decision-making - providing a sounding board and giving an individual the confidence to behave differently or have the courage to reach for resolution
- Team work - supporting individuals to build effective business relationships and function well in teams
- Unblocking - assisting teams move beyond situations in which there are interpersonal tensions or serious dilemmas involving emotions or fundamental disagreements
Who are the coaches?
CEDR coaches are all senior members of CEDR's training faculty or mediation panel. They are all experienced in advanced communication skills and facilitation techniques.
What is involved?
CEDR coaching is designed to fit the needs of busy individuals. It is short-term unless client and coach agree otherwise. Meetings usually last no more than two hours, and take place at times and places convenient to the participants. Shorter telephone consultations may also be arranged.
Conflict coaching examples
Working with individuals
- Repairing a difficult manager/subordinate relationship
Both individuals had very determined and controlling management styles and found it difficult to see each others’ perspectives. The subordinate believed there was a legal case of discrimination and harassment to answer, but the employer’s perspective was that the breakdown of trust and empathy between the two individuals was more important than the legal issues.
Both individuals were coached separately over the same period of time. Both agreed that they needed parameters to change their behaviours and an agreed framework to work with each other.
Coaching on an individual basis in two-hour sessions and then together for a half-day for two months, led to them work on ground rules and agree changes together. They adhered to the framework, which consequently improved their relationship saving the development of a potentially difficult dispute and the possible waste of two careers.
- Supporting a director through managing a difficult change process
The Finance Director of an international organisation was charged with the very difficult and public task of transitioning the current UK workforce from a defined benefit to defined contribution pension arrangement. He had a number of potentially very difficult stakeholders to influence, including Trustee Bodies and Trades Unions and the remit to ensure that changes were made on time and within the parent company’s cost parameters.
The Director was fully accountable, but had very little moral support or background knowledge and experience and was dealing with the strategy of the change single handily. His reputation in the business was at risk.
The CEDR coach was engaged to work on a 1 to 1 basis with the director over a period of several months. This involved:
- coaching the Director on approaches to prevent conflict
- helping him to deal with disagreement
- testing him on realistic options for negotiation and the viability of the timetable of implementation.
Major problems were averted and the director completed the task on time within the agreed budget.
- Relationship re-building following a dispute
In this instance, mediation had followed a complex case of sexual discrimination and bullying, but the employer wanted to retain the services of both senior managers. The management and employee decided to give their relationship another try, with a number of changes being made to the employee’s role and her reporting relationship. They confirmed this in a post mediation protocol of behaviours.
1 to 1 coaching set up to give the employee support during this period of change and more confidence on managing upwards without resorting to writing further grievances. Coaching was also given to help the individual handle herself in a very male dominated environment. The mediation agreement was supported and consolidated through specific coaching support.
- Building team work in the boardroom
Two senior individuals working in a demanding and stressful environment, intensely disliked each other and seemed to have little in common. One had tried to bring a discrimination claim against the other and also the employer; and this whole process, which was lengthy and difficult, made them even more intolerant and spiteful to each other.
A new Director arrived and saw that each had strengths and weaknesses. Accordingly a CEDR conflict coach was engaged to work with the individuals to help them to understand that they could make a better contribution to the business together, rather than fighting each other. Coaching helped the individuals each to confront each other constructively; to speak to each other after a long period without acknowledgment; and engaged them in a framework, which they could both buy into.
Working with a team
- Achieving Board consensus
Although part of the Company’s pan European strategy was to dispose of one of its business divisions, this decision had never really been accepted by two of the directors, leading to tension and delay in making progress. The US Chief Executive wanted this resolved quickly and also wanted the team to work together more effectively in the future as the disagreement was well known throughout the organisation and was taking up a great deal of time.
The CEDR conflict coach started by holding individual discussions with the key players, helping them prepare for team discussions. This was followed up by a day’s coaching and facilitated meeting for the entire Board. This helped them work together through the different options with everyone being listened to and being able to express their own views. The coach focussed the agenda on what was best overall for the business, and personal issues became secondary.
- Preparing for difficult negotiations
The management team were concerned that matters on a major supplier’s contract were dealt with as effectively as possible, but also wished to continue their relationship, so were anxious to avoid blockages and any unnecessary disputes.
Working with the CEDR conflict coach, the team went through their options for the negotiations and developed plans for how to deal with problems and difficulties. This included work to understand their risks, strengths and weakness so that they could position themselves most effectively and as individuals they could undertake the most useful role within the team, whilst also maintaining and indeed improving their relationship with the supplier.