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Dealing with Conflict Transforming Aggravation into an Organizational Asset A Presentation for the Ohio Network of Physician Recruiters Kendall L. Stewart,

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing with Conflict Transforming Aggravation into an Organizational Asset A Presentation for the Ohio Network of Physician Recruiters Kendall L. Stewart,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing with Conflict Transforming Aggravation into an Organizational Asset A Presentation for the Ohio Network of Physician Recruiters Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. October 27, 2004

2 What’s the point? Conflict happens. Most of us –Avoid dealing with it whenever possible, and –Handle it less well than we might when we are forced to deal with it. Managing conflict effectively is hard. This presentation will suggest some practical strategies that can help. We could do better. And we must. After listening to this presentation, you will be able to –List three reasons why we avoid conflict –List three reasons why we usually manage conflict badly, –List three strategies for dealing effectively with conflict –Explain why these three strategies make sense, and –Describe exactly how to do it.

3 Why do we avoid conflict? Because it makes us uncomfortable Because we don’t know what to do Because we don’t have much experience Because most of our role models manage conflict badly Because no one will help us Because it’s the course of least resistance Because we can get away with it Because it’s what everybody else does Because there are so many less important things to do

4 How do we manage conflict badly? We try to manage it when we are upset. We fail to prepare for it. We view discomfort as something to be avoided at all costs. We rely on opinion more than data. We believe that all conflict can and must be resolved. We invest more energy in debating than in understanding. We fail to document our interventions.

5 What are some practical strategies for dealing more effectively with conflict? Prepare for it. Know when to do nothing. Know when to react. Never pledge confidentiality beforehand.* Beware requests to ventilate. Wring out the emotion first.* Insist that complainers take some personal responsibility. Consider both sides before taking a position. Do not permit ambushes. Remind everyone that perception is reality. Ask for data. Focus on behavior instead of motive.* Attach consequences to bad behavior. Find a way for everyone to save face. Consider possible consequences from the start. Come up with a specific plan. See the plan through. Treat career troublemakers differently. Get over it and move on. Coach and mentor others.

6 Never pledge confidentiality beforehand. Why should you? –These folks usually want to avoid accountability. –Agreeing beforehand makes you an accomplice. –It limits your options before you even know what the issue is. –It encourages a culture of secrecy. –It promotes comfort when discomfort is called for. How can you? –Resist the tendency to agree instinctively. –Employ the universal answer, “It depends.” –Accept their desire, but postpone commitment. –If issue must be revealed, give him a chance to go first. –If you mistakenly agree, admit your mistake and withdraw your commitment.

7 Wring out the emotion first. Why should you? –Emotion distorts everyone’s perceptions, including yours. –Emotion compels impulsive reactions that usually turn out to be mistakes. –Emotional arousal is always defensive and irrational. –Emotions must be legitimized first. How can you? –Recognize emotional arousal in yourself and others. –Identify it, accept it and express it. –Admit your own temporary insanity. –Allow (a little) time to pass. –Write out a ventilation document, then file it away.

8 Focus on behavior instead of motive when preparing to confront others. Why should you? –It’s observable. –It’s non-judgmental –It can be corroborated. –It provides valuable feedback. –A focus on behavior creates detached observers instead of passionate partisans. How can you? –Concentrate on remaining a detached observer. –As an investigator, elicit facts instead of conclusions. –Assume the best possible motive in others. –Make notes. –Be specific. –Be descriptive and use quotations.

9 What have you learned? Conflict happens. Few leaders manage it well. All leaders could manage it better. Conflict can be constructive or destructive, depending on how it’s managed. There are ways to manage conflict better. If you wait until you feel like implementing these, you will wait a long time. This is not easy, but the payoff is worth the effort.

10 Where can you learn more? Stewart, Kendall L., et. al. A Portable Mentor for Organizational Leaders, SOMCPress, 2003 (This book can be ordered from Stewart, Kendall L., “Physician Traps: Some Practical Ways to Avoid Becoming a Miserable Doctor” An SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, July 24, 2002 Stewart, Kendall L. et. al, “On Being Successful at SOMC: Some Practical Guidelines for New Physicians” An SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, January 2001 Stewart, Kendall L., “Bigwigs Behaving Badly: Understanding and Coping with Notable Misbehavior” An SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, March 11, 2002 (For a limited time, this White Paper can be downloaded from Stewart, Kendall L., “Relationships: Building and Sustaining the Interpersonal Foundations of Organizational Success” An SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, March 11, 2002

11 How can we contact you? Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. Medical Director Southern Ohio Medical Center President & CEO The SOMC Medical Care Foundation, Inc th Street Portsmouth, Ohio

12 Southern Ohio Medical Center   Safety Safety  Quality Quality  Service Service  Relationships Relationships Performance  What questions remain?


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