Evidence-Based Conflict Resolution
A new Director was hired to lead a merged organization and to centralize their services in one location. Most of the staff from both of the formerly separate entities were loyal and capable long-time employees committed to doing good work. Both organizations had been fairly successful while operating independently. Since the new Director was hired, the merged staff expressed some concerns about how they were being treated by this Director and by the newly-formed organization. In addition, other concerns had surfaced recently about the department in areas such as employee morale, turnover, and productivity.
We conducted a series of individual meetings and small focus group with a sampling of those involved including the department staff, unit managers, the Director, and his immediate supervisor to identify the primary issues. During these discussions, we gathered specific examples as to why the staff did not feel respected and valued, how several unrealistic expectations had been placed upon them, and how the Director had interfered with getting their work done. These examples were used to facilitate the subsequent conflict resolution sessions. All conversations were guided to remain focused on the operational issues while allowing the participants to share their feelings, concerns, and suggestions in a safe and constructive manner.
Despite their initial apprehensions, all parties later reported that they were able to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas openly and that they had seen marked improvements in most of the areas we had addressed. The specific improvements included reduced overtime, a small increase in staffing, increased efficiency and productivity, and greater employee satisfaction ratings. By focusing on the issues, the Director was able to develop concrete strategies to improve his communication style and interpersonal behaviors. Plans also were implemented to monitor and sustain continued progress in each of the areas of concern.