Why your organisation should add conflict coaching to its HR toolkit

Lisa Klug
September 27, 2017

At Worklogic, every day we see the bitter results of workplace conflict that has not been effectively managed. To avoid escalation, it is critical for employers to implement strategies to address workplace conflict as soon as it occurs.

Conflict coaching is an under-utilised but very powerful tool to support conflict resolution at work.

What is conflict coaching?

Conflict management coaching is a model of conflict resolution in which a trained conflict coach supports and assists the staff member to understand and improve the way they manage their conflicts and disputes.

The coach helps the individual client to reflect on and identify their goals, explore different ways for reaching those goals, develop practical methods for preventing unnecessary conflict and resolve their disputes.

The coaching can focus on a particular dispute or situation that involves specific others, or on certain behaviours that an individual may wish to change to improve their own conflict competence.

The conflict coach can also work confidentially, and separately, with both individuals in conflict, or with a team to build conflict competency.

Conflict management coaching is a powerful stand-alone tool. It can also be used as a pre-cursor and skills builder, alongside other workplace processes for managing and addressing interpersonal behaviours.

When should we deploy conflict coaching?

Conflict management coaching can be a powerful step to support reconciliation of differences, resolution of disputes or as a tool to provide effective management of workplace interactions.

This form of coaching has proven to be particularly effective in cases of deeply entrenched ongoing conflict where participants have become very ‘positional’ and it is difficult to bring resolution by more conventional methods.

Some common scenarios where conflict coaching can be used effectively include:

  • With individuals who are disengaged or whose behaviour is causing conflict with others;
  • For managers tasked with managing staff who demonstrate high conflict behaviours;
  • Change management and adapting to workplace changes;
  • To resolve conflict in a dysfunctional team – in this approach, individual coaching is followed by facilitation with the whole team, resulting in a team charter that clarifies roles and expectations for behaviour;
  • Before mediation or facilitated discussion – through conflict coaching, participants become more engaged and less adversarial, agreements achieved in mediation are generally more sustainable, because of the focused, structured preparation provided by the coaching.
  • As post-investigation support for participants in a workplace investigation, who may find themselves in conflict with the other party, or with the organisation after the findings have been made.
  • Before a formal investigation is commenced, to consider options before a formal process is pursued, often resulting in direct and indirect savings in time, costs and legal proceedings;
  • Preparation for performance review (manager and team member); and
  • Preparation for a difficult negotiation or conversation.

How does conflict coaching work?

Conflict management coaching is confidential, one-on-one, voluntary and forward focused. The coaching method is flexible and equally effective when delivered face-to-face, by phone or by Skype.

The frequency, number and duration of sessions vary according to the environment and needs of the individual and / or organisation. One-off sessions have been found to be very effective, however we recommend more than one coaching session for complicated issues and to allow insight and time to practice new behaviours.

Free webinar

If you would like to learn more about conflict management coaching as a tool to manage workplace conflict, then register now to attend Worklogic’s upcoming free webinar “How Conflict Coaching Develops Conflict Resolution Capability” on Tuesday October 3, 2017 at 12.30pm.

About Lisa Klug

Lisa KlugLisa Klug works astutely with Worklogic’s clients to identify the best approach to resolve complex interpersonal and misconduct issues, and manage legal and OHS risk. Lisa has a wide range of experience in positive workplace projects including conflict coaching, misconduct investigations, facilitated discussions, mediation and training for organisation development.

If you would like to discuss conflict in your workplace and assess whether workplace conflict coaching is an effective approach to resolution, please contact Lisa via email or on 03 9981 6557 for an obligation free, confidential conversation.

Thanks to Melanie Roberts, Senior Consultant in our Sydney office, who provides conflict coaching to our NSW and Queensland clients.

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