Senior Vice President
Global Investment Bank
It's sad just how frequently organizations get bogged down in deep rooted conflicts. These suck the life-blood out of an organization. People directly involved end up spending their entire day thinking about how to get back at other people, draining time, thought and ultimately cash out of the business. People around the protagonists get drawn into the conflict, worsening the situation.
A minor spat between two people can quickly escalate into an increasingly nasty internal war. This will ultimately block an organization from doing its business. First profits will disappear. Then clients. Then the company.
One company we know had two staff in conflict. An inability to solve this problem led to the sales volume of the entire company falling by 10% or US$230,000 per annum. Both staff eventually left, leaving a massive capability gap that even new hires could not make up.
After Beth Israel hospital and Deaconess hospital in the US merged, 25% of the value of the new entity had disappeared. All because of conflict. Teams of professionals left, and infighting with those that remained continues to be a massive drain on resorces. The hospital that now trains one-third of Harvard Medical School students is hemorrhaging cash. The loss in 1999 amounted to US$73 million. In 2000 it was $50 million, and at least $50 million in 2001.
Conflict costs. A lot.
Such nightmare scenarios can be avoided. The following case gives one example.
U.S. Multi-National - Conflict Resolution Process
A US multi-national with a pan-Asian presence had two senior managers in serious conflict with each other. A public incident between the two sparked an explosion that came close to becoming a major lawsuit. The potential outcome at that point was either litigation, or the departure of at least one manager. At this point, Chris Lonsdale & Associates was brought in.
Our brief was to resolve the conflict between the two managers and rebuild a working relationship between them.
The process involved:
The two managers are now able to work together, and demonstrate a degree of respect for each other. The more senior, a very experienced manager who adds significant value to the business, has been retained and now focuses on major business development initiatives that will create future growth for the company in China. The company is able to continue benefiting from his knowledge and experience.
The other manager, the regional head of sales, is now focused on his job and generating business once again.
The energy expended on the conflict by others in the organization is now focused on building the business.
Conflict Resolution Services
Chris Lonsdale & Associates provides conflict resolution services to our clients throughout Asia-Pacific. Our unique approach is summed up in a simple phrase: "do what it takes."
What we do works because we don't have any one approach. Rather, we believe that nothing is quite what it seems. Initially we explore the situation and identify the thinking of all parties involved. We also explore the context in which a conflict is occurring, to rule out the very real possibility of the lightning-rod effect (see the article explaining this).
If your organization has internal conflicts, large or small, that are sucking resources then contact us. We'll work with you to explore the situation, advise you on the best way to move forward, and then help you implement the solution.
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