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Conflict Coaching for Leaders in a Competitive Sales Environment

Topics: Conflict / Pages: 13 (3028 words) / Published: Jan 25th, 2013
Conflict Coaching for Leaders in a Competitive Sales Environment

Target Audience – Sales Managers
As sales managers, supervisors or team leaders in a competitive sales environment, we often assist staff with their interpersonal workplace disputes on a regular basis. We will be coaching for behavior change that will lead to continuous improvement.
Thorough this interactive training module for sales leaders, your team leaders will understand the process for coaching their direct reports on a one-on-one basis. They will learn the necessary skills to assist their staff to manage and engage more effectively in their interpersonal conflicts and disputes. This will enable your sales team to increase their conflict competence, therefore increasing morale and productivity in your organization.

Training Module Content * Understanding Conflict * Self Awareness – Understanding Yourself * Emotional Intelligence * Resolving Conflict Situations

The main objectives for this Conflict Management training are: * To provide a working definition of team conflict, identify various conflict styles, help managers to understand their own conflict style. * To help leaders strengthen their self awareness as well as their conflict competence and enable them to use these techniques with their employees * To provide a context for leaders to consider the nature of interpersonal workplace conflicts and the impact it has on them, their team and the organization as a whole * Assist leaders to train their employees about team conflict in the workplace. They will understand the difference between productive and destructive conflict. They will be able to recognize it, understand its impact, know how to best approach destructive conflict as well as methods to resolve it. * Increase Emotional Intelligence to reduce destructive conflict in the workplace * Help leaders gain increased knowledge and skills to be effective at providing conflict management coaching
Methods Used in the Training Workshop
Self-Assessments and quiz’s, Discussion and exploration, Understanding Self-Awareness through two Emotional Intelligence Skill Soft Courses, PowerPoint Presentations, demonstrations and skills practices, participants develop and practice conflict coaching techniques and skills.
(15 minutes) The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
Prior to meeting as a group, all mangers will take the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) to learn about their conflict management style. Although conflict is often seen as negative, it can lead to great change and improvement. Learning about our style as well as others will increase our effectiveness and ability to work well with others on our team. Each manager will be asked to send a copy of their assessment to the training manager before the first session. The training manager will have completed the Basic Training in Conflict Management Course online through Kilmann Diagnostics at as this comes with a 30 page manual and teaches the trainer how to interpret their results (as well as those of other people).
The TKI is designed to measure a person 's behavior in conflict situations. "Conflict situations" are those in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. In such situations, we can describe an individual 's behavior along two dimensions: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person 's concerns. These two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes:
Each of us is capable of using all five conflict-handling modes. None of us can be characterized as having a single style of dealing with conflict. But certain people use some modes more or less than others—whether because of temperament or practice. The TKI is a self-scoring assessment that allows you to find out about your overuse and underuse of the five modes. Day 1 Training Agenda
PowerPoint Presentation to will guide training and exercises
Exercise 1 30–35 minutes

Defining Conflict: Where Do You Stand?
PURPOSE: To help participants understand how they perceive conflict, and what conflict means in their life experiences.

EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout: Pop Quiz on Attitudes Toward Conflict
1. Explain to participants that people often come to a conflict-resolution workshop with a fixed definition of conflict and ideas based on earlier life experiences.

2. Begin by pairing the participants and asking them to discuss with each other their definition of conflict. They should also talk about some earlier experiences that led them to these definitions.

3. Reconvene and have pairs report on the results of their conversations. Ask participants for examples that influenced their thinking about conflict, and then (using participant input) write a group definition of conflict.

4. Lead a discussion about the positive aspects of conflict resolution, asking questions such as:
• How can conflict strengthen relationships?
• In what ways can conflict generate growth and self-development?
5. Distribute the handout, and ask the participants to complete the Pop Quiz, thinking about the discussions so far. Explain that this activity is one that should get them thinking about additional feelings concerning conflict and ways to resolve a difficult situation.

6. When the Pop Quiz is completed, ask participants to share and discuss answers.

Handout 1
Pop Quiz: Attitudes Toward Conflict

In each row across the page, check off the one phrase that best represents your way of thinking. (Your choices should involve your thoughts about present-day conflict in the workplace.)

I believe conflict: I believe conflict:___________________ | | __Hurts relationships __Strengthens relationships | | __Should be avoided __Should be resolved | | __Resolution is based on equality of power __Resolution is based on Status and Power | | | __Disregards differences of opinion __Recognizes and appreciates differences of opinion | | __Has nothing to be gained from it __Can generate growth | | | __Is about blame __Is about understanding and coming to agreement | | | __Produces a winner and a loser __Can produce a win-win resolution | | | | |

Total the number of checks in each column. Join the group for comments and additional discussion.

Trainer notes for Handout 1
Pop Quiz Debrief:

Ask the following questions regarding the handout, reminding the group that there are no right or wrong answers:

• How do you feel about the responses?

• Can you see a difference in philosophy? What are your thoughts about that? (Possible answers are that responses in the left column generally represent a narrow interpretation of the destructive side of conflict, whereas responses in the right-hand column seems to represent the constructive side of conflict.)

• Which statements best represent your attitude, the ones in the left column, or the ones in the right?

Remember, individual definitions of conflict can shape how you deal with conflict when you are personally involved. Explain that the more you learn about defining conflict, the more likely you are to understand conflict situations and develop resolution skills. You will begin to look at individual needs and intentions (your own and others), and learn to use constructive communication

Baseline Assessment
Establish a baseline for how you deal with conflict in general. You must be honest in order for the exercises to be effective. Which of the following statements reflects your usual approach?

1. I try to pursue my own goals and stand my own ground. 2. I try to cooperate by giving in on some points in exchange for others 3. I try to point out factors that everyone agrees on and not dwell on points of disagreement 4. I try to get everyone involved in working out a solution and deal with all concerns 5. I try to ease tension and let others take responsibility.

The baseline reflects how you deal with conflict in general. Clear cut, right and wrong ways to deal with conflict are not always apparent. Certain situations call for certain responses. Recognizing the different approaches to deal with conflict can help you to see different ways to resolve it. Knowing your baseline can help you see areas in which you need to strengthen or modify your approach.
KEY : 1 = Competitive, 2 = Compromising, 3 = Accommodating, 4 = Collaborating, 5 = Avoidance

Exercise 2

Individual Conflict Styles: A Zoological Approach
30 minutes

To help participants recognize that there are distinct differences in conflict resolution styles, and that being flexible and respecting others might help in resolving conflict.
4 posters prepared ahead of time with the pictures or the names of the following animals, as well as the phrases that are in parentheses; then briefly describe the styles:

• Bunny Rabbit (escape when you have the chance) This represents Avoidance.
• Pit Bull (winning is the only thing) This represents Competition.
• Worker Bee (act for the good of the group) This represents Cooperation. Collaborating
• Chameleon (willing to change to blend in) This represents Adaptation, Accommodating
The Hens (Give and take) Compromising

1. Place the posters in various areas of the room.
2. Ask participants to walk around the room and stand beside the poster that best represents the way they deal with conflict.
3. Ask participants to share what they believe is good about dealing with conflict in that particular way, when it is most appropriate, and what they think they can accomplish using that style.
4. Ask participants to discuss any problems a particular style might cause, when it might be least appropriate to use, and what can be lost by using it.
5. Reconvene and have participants summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the various styles. Continue by discussing how to deal with others who have different styles of resolving conflict.

This activity addresses four major conflict styles. Conflicts are often exacerbated by differences in conflict-resolution styles. It is not always necessary for people to give up their natural styles in order to resolve conflict. Some forms of accommodation are possible. Most important are respecting differences and turning them into a positive force for resolution.
Exercise 2 Materials

Posters that Best Represent the Way you Deal with Conflict

Escape when you get the chance Act for the Good of the group

Winning is the only thing Willing to Change to Blend in

It’s all about give and take. You feed me,
I give you eggs (not chicken)
Understanding Team Conflict
Team Conflict is an interpersonal problem that occurs between two or more members of a team, and affects results of teamwork, so the team does not perform at optimum levels. Team conflicts are caused by the situation when the balance between perceptions, goals, or/and values of the team is upset, therefore people cannot work together and shared goals cannot be achieved in the team environment.
Conflict can be defined as a serious disagreement over needs or goals among team members. Conflict is a clash between individuals arising out of a difference in thought process, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements and perceptions. It occurs because of the team member’s inability to address their needs or goals or because the needs and goals of the conflicted parties involved are in opposition of one another.
Allen C. Amason, of Mississippi State University, has studied conflict and its role in decision-making. He suggests there are two types of conflict:
Cognitive - conflict aimed at issues, ideas, principles, or process.
Affective - conflict aimed at people, emotions, or values.
His studies showed the presence of both types in any group setting; but he 's clear to explain that cognitive conflict is constructive, while affective conflict is destructive (Brockmann, 1996). Another researcher, Thomas K. Capozzoli (1995), reinforces this by describing the outcomes of constructive and destructive conflict: Constructive conflicts exists when…
1. People change and grow personally from the conflict
2. The conflict results in a solution to a problem
3. It increases involvement of everyone affected by the conflict
4. It builds cohesiveness among the members of the team Destructive conflicts exists when…
1. No decision is reached and problem still exists
2. It diverts energy away from more value-add activities
3. It destroys the morale of the team members
4. It polarizes or divides the team
For the purpose of our training, we will focus on the causes and consequences of destructive conflict, how to identify it and then resolve it.
Causes of Destructive Team Conflict
Conflict is rarely as simple as it seems on the surface. Problems at work are often caused or magnified by the following: 1. Perceived breach of faith and trust 2. Unresolved disagreements 3. Miscommunication or vague language - Say what you mean and mean what you say. Avoid using language like, “whatever you think.” Or, “whenever you get to it” Leaving things to an employee’s imagination can make for some pretty imaginative interpretations 4. Personality Clashes 5. Differences in acquired values 6. Underlying stress and tension 7. Ego problems 8. Diversity (Generational and/or Cultural) - Lack of acceptance or understanding
9. Lack of clarity or understanding of roles & tasks - Create clear directives that include who, what, when, where, and why so he doesn’t trip over his co-workers just trying to get his job done
Delhi Business review, Vol. 7,No.2, (July-December 2006)

Consequences of Unresolved Team Conflict * Excessive employee turnover * Low morale * Reduced productivity * Quality problems * Increased costs * Absenteeism * Increased stress * Reduced collaboration * Fractionated activities * Passive/aggressive behavior and/or abusive behavior
Ask for group discussion; write on flip chart or white board. Ways to resolve conflict
Give hand-out after discussion
Ways to Resolve Conflict
As well as being able to handle conflict when it arises, teams need to develop ways of preventing conflict from becoming damaging. Team members can learn skills and behavior to help this. Here are some of the key ones to work on. * If all else fails, seek expert advice, use a mediator, ombudsman, referee. * Listen to the other persons’ point of view. * State your side clearly and calmly. * Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. * Express your feelings honestly. * Make sure that you understand the problem. * Let each side speak without interruption. * Compromise, give a little and get a little. * Find a win-win solution.

* Dealing with conflict immediately – avoid the temptation to ignore it. * Being open – if people have issues, they need to be expressed immediately and not allowed to fester. * Practicing clear communication – articulate thoughts and ideas clearly. * Practicing active listening – paraphrasing, clarifying, questioning. * Practicing identifying assumptions – asking yourself "why" on a regular basis. * Not letting conflict get personal – stick to facts and issues, not personalities. * Focusing on actionable solutions – don 't belabor what can 't be changed. * Encouraging different points of view – insist on honest dialogue and expressing feelings. * Not looking for blame – encourage ownership of the problem and solution. * Demonstrating respect – if the situation escalates, take a break and wait for emotions to subside. * Keeping team issues within the team – talking outside allows conflict to build and fester, without being dealt with directly.
Homework for Day 2
Complete the Following Skill Soft Courses before the next session:

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership –As a Leader, you must have interpersonal competence that comes with emotional intelligence. The course will help guide you in developing your emotional intelligence as a leader and then direct you in developing it in others.
(About 2 hours)
Using Emotional Intelligence on the job – Developing the best talents in managers and employees throughout the organization has become vital to workplace success. Intellectual knowledge is no longer enough, you must also have the interpersonal competence that comes with emotional intelligence. You will learn the value of emotions and how they can affect the workplace for better or for worse. The course focuses on using empathy, particularly in confrontation scenarios and on helping others to develop their own emotional self-awareness and empathy, leading to more positive exchanges on the job.
(about 1 hour)

Each participant is to write a one page summary of the courses and be ready to share with the group what resonated with them most about the training course.

Day 2 Agenda

Complete Skills that make a difference Worksheet – Review after EI Discussion

* Review EI PowerPoint Presentation
(30 minutes)

* Group Discussion - What did you learn about yourself? What skills do you believe most people have challenges? What have you done differently since completing the course?
(15 minutes)

Skills that Make a Difference Worksheet Purpose - Revisit the skills that make a difference in the outcome of a conflict-resolution session.

Introduction - It is important from time to time to review the skills that contribute to successful conflict resolution. This exercise will give you an opportunity to rate yourself on those skills.

Rate yourself on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) in each of these skills:
______ To be open to differences
______ To treat people as individuals
______ To look at whether expectations are real
______ To be aware of stereotypes
______ To check assumptions about other people or groups
______ To accept ambiguity
______ To be comfortable communicating with people different than you
______ To be nonjudgmental
______ To exhibit empathy
______ To listen and observe

If your total is close to 50, you are probably communicating well when dealing with conflicts on a variety of issues. If your total is less than 40, you have some work to do to improve your skills.

A nationally-recognized team of experts in the field agree that the above ten skills on which you rated yourself are the most important in conflict resolution. Experience has proven that these obviously desirable skills can help considerably when they are introduced in the resolution process.


Bulleit, B., (2006) Effectively Managing Team Conflict, Global Knowledge Training LLC, retrieved online at

Gountanis, C.(2008) Team Dynamics - Conflict Resolution Strategies, retrieved online at Lambert, J. & Myers, S. (1999) 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution, Amherst, Massachusetts: HRD Press.
Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2012) Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Five Key Skills for Raising Emotional Intelligence, retrieved online at
Pettrey, L. (2003) Who Let the Dogs Out? Managing Conflict with courage and Skill, Critical Care Nurse, Critical Care Careers

Resolving Team Conflict, Building Stronger Teams by Facing Your Differences © Mind Tools Ltd, 1996-2012. Retrived online at

Singh, A., Anthony, D., Conflict Management in Teams, Causes & Cures, Delhi Business review, Vol. 7, No. 2, (July-December 2006)

References: Bulleit, B., (2006) Effectively Managing Team Conflict, Global Knowledge Training LLC, retrieved online at Gountanis, C.(2008) Team Dynamics - Conflict Resolution Strategies, retrieved online at Lambert, J. & Myers, S. (1999) 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution, Amherst, Massachusetts: HRD Press. Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2012) Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Five Key Skills for Raising Emotional Intelligence, retrieved online at Pettrey, L. (2003) Who Let the Dogs Out? Managing Conflict with courage and Skill, Critical Care Nurse, Critical Care Careers Resolving Team Conflict, Building Stronger Teams by Facing Your Differences © Mind Tools Ltd, 1996-2012. Retrived online at Singh, A., Anthony, D., Conflict Management in Teams, Causes & Cures, Delhi Business review, Vol. 7, No. 2, (July-December 2006)

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