IMPROVE Supplementary Document

IMPROVE Supplementary Document

When seeking to improve your organization’s conflict and entire situation, remember that whatever you recommend must be genuinely doable. Remember also that conflict is complex and that conflict in an organization is a systems-level conflict, which has numerous moving parts and individuals whose personalities, behaviors, and actions can all have impact.

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What you seek to do when you recommend Improve steps is mitigate, manage, or, ideally, resolve the conflict.

To take a real example, in Organization B, individuals on teams who are supposed to be working on joint projects are in conflict. A consultant is called in and, after using the D, M, and A phases of the DMAIC process, learns that the individuals on the teams do not speak to one another except in team meetings, in which everyone argues. No one spends any time socializing, and the individuals on the teams do not know one another. The individuals do not work near one another and, because of how the organization is structured, there is no opportunity for team members to spend time together.


The consultant notices that the coffee offered by the organization is poor in quality, and is a long walk away from where the employees work. The Improve recommendations the consultant begins with for Organization B are quite simple: Bring in catered coffee and snacks, and put these in a central location within easy reach of workstations. Further, encourage employees to take some lengthy coffee and snack breaks. The theoretical foundation to the consultant’s Improve recommendations was contact theory. G. W. Allport found that when individuals get to know one another, intolerance and conflict tend to be reduced.

Before long, employees on the different teams were running into one another in the coffee and snack area. Because they were able to take longer breaks than before, they hung out, enjoying high-quality coffee that was free, along with free snacks. The employees began to talk with one another, getting to know one another outside of the contentious team meetings. The conflicts between and among team members largely disappeared as they began to get to know and like one another as human beings. The cost to Organization B to supply the coffee and snacks was about $15 per week.


Because each individual has primary and secondary conflict-management style preferences that are innate, an individual’s perception of the conflict will be subjectively perceived through his or her conflict style preference lens. This is true for those involved in the conflict as primary parties, those peripheral to the conflict as interested secondary parties, or those who analyze or mediate the conflict as third parties. Being alert to your own conflict-management style preference and understanding the elements of each style is critical to understanding the individuals involved. When building a team comprised of individuals, knowing how those individuals address conflict is a must. Only when understanding clearly how the individuals who are involved as parties to the conflict address their conflict, can the analyst move forward to a durable resolution.

Complete this questionnaire to learn your conflict management style: Conflict Resolution Questionnaire.



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