5 Conflict Handling Modes You and Your Team Should Know About

Q1 usually involves the launch of new client projects, organizational restructuring, strategic planning and/or putting together new workplace teams. NOW is the time to start building the foundation of constructive conflict into your team(s), to harness that creative power as well as pre-empt potential negative conflict.

Bottom-line reason? Conflict is one of the most powerful tools teams can have. Harnessing constructive conflict creates an exciting environment of innovation, forward momentum and productivity. Negative outcomes from conflict emerge when it is ignored.

How do you, as a leader, go about building this foundation for your team(s)?

One tool that Resologics uses in our work with leaders and teams is the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). It is a self-report assessment that allows you to discover your (and your team members’) particular way of approaching conflict. The TKI has been the worldwide leader in this area for almost 40 years, so you can be confident that it's a tool that has withstood the rugged test of time.

I’m going to share with you some of the conflict-handling behaviors you might be able to spot in your team members - or yourself! Be open to this as you read on because, make no mistake, as a leader you set the tone for the team’s ability to embrace constructive conflict. Important note: We typically have most or all of these tendencies, just in different proportions, and there are no right or wrong modes. Let’s dive in…

The 5 Conflict Handling Modes

COMPETING: Assertive and uncooperative; competitive, pursuing one’s own interests or concerns at the other person’s expense; standing up for one’s position or simply trying to win.

COLLABORATING: Assertive and Cooperative: Attempting to work with the other person to find a solution; exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights; confronting to try to find a creative solution.

Sample Individual Results

Sample Individual Results

COMPROMISING: Expediency; looking for a solution that partially satisfies everybody; compromising such as splitting the difference or exchanging concessions.

AVOIDING: Unassertive and uncooperative; does not address the conflict; avoids; postpones the issue until a better time or simply withdraws in a threatening situation.

ACCOMMODATING: Unassertive and cooperative; Opposite of competing; neglects one’s own concerns to satisfy the other; self-sacrificial; might be selfless generosity in yielding to another’s point of view.

Sample Team Results

Sample Team Results

You can perhaps see how a combination of these modes could make for an interesting team meeting? The reason the TKI tool is so important is that awareness of these behaviors can go a long way to understanding our individual ways of handling a group situation, as well as what mode others in the group might be tapping into. This can be a good step in building the mutual understanding, trust and openness which creates the basis of a strong team that works with conflict to their advantage.

Here’s another great tool: Innovation Estimator™. This is a FREE opportunity for you to assess where your team falls on the conflict continuum, and what a team with well-managed conflict looks like. We’ve created this unique (and easy-to-use) tool from years of experience and research data, so you can use the results to understand your team and build its strengths accordingly.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the TKI or Innovation Estimator™ -- I’m happy to chat with you, so just click here to schedule a conversation.