I found this great Linkedin article on workplace conflict resolution by Mike Gamson. According to Gamson, most workplace conflict is a result of misalignment in the workplace. He offers a process that will help people get back on track and reduce the amount of time spent in misalignment to 5 days or less. Now that’s a plan I can use!
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
I believe that much of the total negative energy experienced by professionals can be traced back to the friction caused by a lack of alignment with others on key questions. These disagreements can be about anything, but are most often related to misalignment on which goals to pursue, the prioritization of pursuing those goals, and/or the manner in which those goals should be pursued. This is a global experience because human beings have different viewpoints on what is important and have different perspectives on the way to achieve important objectives. Misalignment, therefore, is a very natural phenomenon, and yet, conflict and frustration stemming from that misalignment is not inevitable. There’s a better way. . . and we’ve introduced it recently at LinkedIn.
My colleagues and I began a new process we call “5-Day Alignment”. 5-Day Alignment is a commitment to limit the total lifespan of misalignment on any important topic between people or teams to five business days. It represents a commitment we make to one another to identify areas of conflict quickly and efficiently and to seek alignment or make a clean escalation in a speedy manner.(See Fred Kofman’s post for more detail here. ) It doesn’t mean that we’ll always be able to make the final decision in 5 days (although in many cases we can), but it does mean that we commit to getting aligned on the criteria and the process we’ll use to make a decision within 5 days from when the issue was first raised.
Here’s how it works:
1. Once you have identified an area of misalignment, engage your co-worker and together, commit to achieve alignment in 5 business days. (You will not always have the data you need at hand for a full decision in 5 days, so in those cases, simply drive for alignment on how you’ll answer the question once you have the data you need.)
2. Create the space in your calendar to meet (face-to-face, by video, or by phone) as soon as possible. The best approach to this meeting is first to seek to understand your colleague’s perspective before laying out your case. Then, agree to accept and implement the final decision regardless of what is decided, and attempt to come to an agreement.
3. If you cannot reach an agreement, conduct a “clean escalation” To do so, you must identify a final decision maker, and engage with that person together to tell one, shared story to describe the nature of the misalignment so that she can make an informed final decision.
4. Document the decision and get to work implementing it.
Whether the decision went “your way” or “their way,” recognize that you just saved yourself and your company lots of time and energy by handling this misalignment so expeditiously.
I believe that 5-Day Alignment can raise the productivity of companies everywhere and reduce the overall frustration level experienced by millions of professionals around the world. It’s a simple but powerful formula that is working for us and can work for you.
I am always in favor of reducing workplace frustration, so I will try the ‘5-Day Alignment’ process let you know how it works for me.