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Harv Bus Rev. 2005 Mar;83(3):92-101, 149.

Want collaboration? Accept--and actively manage--conflict.

Author information

1
Vantage Partners, Boston, USA. jweiss@vantagepartners.com

Abstract

Companies try all kinds of ways to improve collaboration among different parts of the organization: cross-unit incentive systems, organizational restructuring, teamwork training. While these initiatives produce occasional success stories, most have only limited impact in dismantling organizational silos and fostering collaboration. The problem? Most companies focus on the symptoms ("Sales and delivery do not work together as closely as they should") rather than on the root cause of failures in cooperation: conflict. The fact is, you can't improve collaboration until you've addressed the issue of conflict. The authors offer six strategies for effectively managing conflict: Devise and implement a common method for resolving conflict. Provide people with criteria for making trade-offs. Use the escalation of conflict as an opportunity for coaching. Establish and enforce a requirement of joint escalation. Ensure that managers resolve escalated conflicts directly with their counterparts. Make the process for escalated conflict-resolution transparent. The first three strategies focus on the point of conflict; the second three focus on escalation of conflict up the management chain. Together they constitute a framework for effectively managing discord, one that integrates conflict resolution into day-to-day decision-making processes, thereby removing a barrier to cross-organizational collaboration.

PMID:
15768679
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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