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Conflict Resolution

08 28 2013

US versus THEM, Incorporated

Barriers to Effective Communication, Business Management Consulting, Communication Issues, Conflict Resolution, Corporate Therapy

August 2013


An overwhelming majority of organizations have inadvertently created “us versus them” cultures. These organizations have turned much of their focus and resources away from serving the customer and directed it toward in-fighting and power struggles. Businesses I work with often have good products and services, but are on the brink of going out of business or have had a history of losing significant market share and revenue because of such a culture. Oftentimes, these losses are not caused by the poor economy or stiff competition, but are actually self-inflicted and caused because of conflict or what I call the “US versus THEM” culture.

The “US vs. THEM” Culture

In essence, people who work in the “US Versus THEM” cultures do so out of necessity. Their day is often focused on the internal problems of the organization rather than providing better customer service, product improvement, and increasing revenue. Oddly enough, these people have the best of intentions, but over time, problems get worse and things start to go downhill very fast until staff and management are reduced to finger-pointing, blaming, and incessant gossiping. Do the following statements sound familiar?

  • “They have no idea what they are doing and we constantly have to do work over because they didn’t plan well. Why doesn’t management ever ask our opinion?”
  • “The last person who gave her honest opinion was picked on by the boss until she was forced to quit.”
  • “I wish I could get my employees to follow-through on projects and think for themselves.”
  • “We just lost eight more employees. Why do people keep quitting after we spend all that money training them?”
  • “Who am I going to promote to manage that department? I don’t have anyone decent to choose from.”
  • “My boss doesn’t know how to manage and build people up; all he knows how to do is tear people down and berate them.”
  • “They want us to do more work, we have less people then we did three years ago. We simply don’t have enough time.”

“They” and “Them”

When working within organizations, I have never met “They” or “Them.” In fact, there is no “they” or “them;” only “us.” So, if you find yourself in an “Us versus Them” culture, get off the fence of indecision, quit griping, and do something about it. Basically, you have three choices:

  1. Choose to stay and learn how to make the best of the way things are.
  2. Choose to leave and find a better environment to work in.
  3. Choose to help change and improve your organization. In other words, be part of the solution.

Choosing the Best Path

If you choose to stay and make the best of it, know that it is a choice you are making and be content with that choice.  Accept your situation and look for positive aspects. For instance, today find five things you like about your company, the product, or the people. Yes, this will be hard, but what choice do you have? You decided to stay.

If you choose to move on, do it within three months. Or, choose to improve your skills or education, and then make the job change within 6-12 months. Yes, it may be inconvenient, but you decided to leave, so do something about it.

If you choose to help the organization improve, it doesn’t matter what your current position is. Isolate the top 3-5 problems in your department, make a plan and offer solutions. If you don’t start the process, who will?

“US” vs. “Them” can become “We are a profitable, winning team and loving it.” The choice is yours.

Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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Posted by at 9:51 AM

08 21 2013

Types of Conflict Resolution & How you can Benefit

Conflict Resolution

August 2013

This is where you are, but… THIS is where you WANT to be…
  • Job stress and burnout are on the rise; absenteeism and turnover are increasing.
  1. Talent retention is on the rise.
  2. Higher and more consistent morale exists.
  3. Stress is reduced and communication is more open among people at all levels.
  • Distrust and suspicion are commonplace.
  1. Free-flowing information and cooperation improve productivity, because people are connected to the company objectives and to one another.
  2. Camaraderie is emphasized.
  • A pervasive “US vs. THEM” culture exists at almost every level of the organization.
  1. Creativity and teamwork are creating excellent cross-functional work teams.
  2. Individuals and departments stop turf battles.
  • Job satisfaction and job performance are declining.
  1. Current conflicts are resolved and productivity and profits are maximized.
  2. Individual and group performance improve, because people learn how to effectively and creatively turn conflicts into profitable opportunities.
  • Employee loyalty is failing.
  1. Inspired employees are able and interested in articulating and clarifying their ideas and positions toward the organizational goals.
  • Productivity and profits are at an all-time low.
  1. Organizational objectives are understood by all and, as a result, decision making is improved.
  2. Increased innovation, stimulated creativity, and forward thinking are the norm.

Benefits of Conflict Resolution

Yes, there are many benefits to conflict. It is often necessary to struggle through normal stages of family business, partnership, department or company growth. The value is in understanding conflict and learn how to harness the elusive powers of this sometimes volatile force. As with most challenges, the key is in catching it quickly so you control it before it goes underground (the grapevine) and cause more problems. Or worse, become part of your company culture. Many owners, leaders, managers and employees cant seem to function without drama and conflict and over time; conflict just becomes a way of life. Unless, something significant is done to turn the tide.

I specialize in helping people learn from and move through conflict to create long-lasting, sustained, “win-win” outcomes for you, your family business, partnership, department and company.

Types of Conflict

In over two decades consulting with family businesses and organizations, I have observed three major types of family business or workplace conflict:

Task Conflict Task conflict arises among members of work teams and affects the goals and tasks they are striving to achieve. Differences in vision, intentions, and quality expectations often lead to task conflict. Family or employee relationships may initially appear to survive task conflict, but an important project may not. It is essential to channel task conflict so that these differences become complementary and improve the way the family or team thinks about accomplishing current and future tasks.

Process Conflict This form of conflict centers around the steps or methods used by a family or work-teams to reach a goal. One person might like to plan 100 steps ahead, while another might like to dive in head first. Process differences can lead to communication breakdown and ultimately result in conflict. Like task conflict, process conflict can be useful if managed correctly. Healthy differences in process often lead to an improved way to achieve goals.

Relationship Conflict Often misunderstood, relationship conflict undermines and tears at the fabric of an organization, department or team’s ability to achieve its goals. Relationship conflict penetrates all aspects of an organization. When people in a workplace environment fail to communicate effectively, teams, departments or even an entire organization will suffer. Relationship conflict will quickly consume all the attention and energy of an organization, leaving little time to accomplish profitable tasks.


What can we do to bring conflict to a reasonable resolution? How might our resolution be beneficial to everyone involved? The ultimate goal of conflict resolution is to increase one’s understanding of what happened, why it happened, and how we can learn from it so we don’t become victims to it in the future. Conflict isn’t bad. In fact, it is a vital part of a successful family business or organization. Knowing when to encourage conflict – in a manageable and productive way; knowing how to spot it early and slow it down if need be; and knowing the natural stages of conflict’s life cycle can all lead to highly productive outcomes. Both this knowledge about conflict and the skills needed to manage it successfully are needed to get the best out of your people.

The benefits of professional conflict resolution are great:

  • Resolves current conflicts and maximizes innovation, productivity and profits
  • Teaches independence and ownership of the skills to effectively and creatively turn future conflicts into profitable opportunities for improved communication and learning
  • Improves organizational decision making
  • Inspires family members and employees who are able and interested in articulating and clarifying their ideas and positions toward the organizational goals
  • Increases innovation, creativity, and forward thinking
  • Improves individual, family business and company performance


Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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Posted by at 5:26 PM

08 19 2013

Profitable & Improved Staff Development

Business Success, Communication Issues, Conflict Resolution, Corporate Therapy, Improvement, Leadership Development/ Executive Coaching, Staff Development for Profit

August 2013

This is where you are, but… THIS is where you WANT to be…
  • No buy-in and no follow through from participants once they return from a workshop or training.
  • Trainings are ineffective or off-target and result in poor recall on Monday morning when trying to implement the new skills.
  1. People deeply understand and buy into the training because they were involved from the beginning. They support that which they helped create.
  2. Follow through over time is more consistent.
  3. Better information retention; a “learning environment” is created by staff where all continue to train and teach each other.
  • Workshop training manuals get shelved, forgotten, and collect dust.
  1. Participants refer to training manuals and rely on them as valuable resources.
  • Training or team building is like a doughnut (enjoyable, but with no lasting nutritional value).
  1. Consistent innovation moves people to take action and create new habits.
  2. A greater return is received on every training investment dollar.
  • The training is “off the shelf,” one-size-fits-all, or so generic it doesn’t translate well to our particular people and their specific challenges.
  1. Trainings are specifically designed for our objectives, our culture, and our people so that individual and organizational growth can be measured and maintained.
  2. Participants are taught how to overcome daily challenges and integrate information.
  • We want to utilize the information, but work and pressing issues dictate our priorities.
  • We just don’t have time right now.
  1. Trainers don’t leave after one day. They partner with the organization to ensure long-term learning and return on investment is received.
  2. Morale is higher and more consistent.
  3. Prioritization is improved.
  • We don’t know how or don’t take the time to implement staff development because our culture/industry/business is unique.
  1. Training is designed specifically for us from A to Z. Implementing the information is part of the training process and our people grow consistently over time as a result.

You May Want to Ask Yourself These Questions:

  • How do we establish or reestablish trust? Are you ready to improve and add extra strength to the back-bone of your organization?
  • How do our people communicate? How can we really improve communication, goal setting and execution so our people and departments GET RESULTS and we actually utilize all of our resources, people and departments as a UNIFIED whole toward specific objectives.
  • Where are we now and where do we all want to go? How can each member of our organization help to improve our bottom line and why should they?
  • Is any of this even possible?
  • If someone told me it was, would I believe them?
  • If I did believe them would I take the two  minutes out of my busy day and do anything about it? would I call, text or email?

Profit from the inside out. I specialize’s in designing employee development programs tailored specifically for your staff and you. I provide you with the necessary training and tools to ensure that your staff continues to teach itself, monitor itself, and show improved results long after I have left.

Are you getting the best out of your employees? If not, then take steps to improve your organization by investing in an employee development program.

Make no mistake about it: all your closest competitors have good R & D… They have access to financing and resources, and they are training their people. The only resource which separates you from your closest competitors is… YOUR PEOPLE… SO INVEST IN THEM EFFECTIVELY.

All organizational challenges will ultimately be solved by and through your people! Whether your challenges are technical, financial, or in some other domain, these challenges will always hinge on human communications and processes. Understanding and improving communication is hugely important to your organization’s survival and success, because the bottom line is: it’s YOUR people who will ultimately take YOUR organization to the next level.

Important considerations for employee development:

  • Urgency and energy are produced to create a new future.
  • Broad participation quickly identifies performance gaps and their solutions, improving productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • First tackle the larger issues or conflicts that are tying up your organization’s time and effectiveness.
  • Alleviate stress and you emphasize camaraderie.
  • Employee morale will soar higher and stay more consistently positive through employee development; when employee’s morale is high, areas of need will be addressed more quickly and effectively, so problems won’t fester under the surface and get out of control.
  • Encouraging employee feedback on business challenges will help people grasp issues.
  • Employees will become aligned around a common purpose and will create new directions, because they understand both the difficulties and the opportunities of change and growth. In short, employee development creates “ownership.”
  • Lastly, it is virtually impossible to have satisfied customers and dissatisfied employees. Everyone knows when a clown has makeup on and your customers know it when your employees are faking the smiles. So quit insulting them, because in this competitive age they WILL shop you.

In essence, when employees realize that they have some semblance of control and are being heard, the company, the leadership, and the employees all benefit. Thus, it is through this improved communication and shared purpose that the value of employee development truly begins to sink in for all stakeholders. This is when your team will take your organization to the next level. Through employee development, you are guaranteed lasting commitment and support of your strategic plan and your company vision!


Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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Posted by at 6:22 PM

08 19 2013

How to Improve Employees’ Functionality by Improving Internal Customer Service

Barriers to Effective Communication, Business Management Consulting, Communication Issues, Conflict Resolution, Corporate Therapy, Improvement, Mergers: How to Manage & Coach People Through Change, Project Implementation: How to Create Ownership, Staff Development for Profit

August 2013

Moving our bodies from point A to point B requires the use of our two legs working together to achieve this simple task. If one or the other of the two legs does not fully support the body, or if one does not make a full and even stride, then the act can be diminished by varying degrees.

The metaphor holds true for your organization and its internal customers as well. Internal customers are those people who make up the other departments that work with you inside your business. For example, accounts-receivable, sales, production, finance and marketing are each other’s customers. For your organization to function smoothly, people among departments must communicate clearly, organize tasks and timelines, and implement or take “action” on these tasks.

The more effective people are at serving each other, the smoother their processes will be, and they will achieve better results (i.e., production, efficiencies, and profits). Likewise, the more efficient a person is with “leg movements,” the better they will be at walking, jogging, and even running. If they take this act seriously and become expert in this area, they may even end up running faster than others, which is, of course the objective in business — outpacing the competition.

Here are suggestions on how to provide stellar internal customer service:

1. Be aware of what you think about yourself and others. Behavior follows thought. Are your thoughts helping you and building you up, or are your thoughts hurting you and making circumstances more difficult? Practice self-respectful thoughts.

2. Communicate clearly and often. Ask for clarification when you are unsure of what is conveyed through verbal and non-verbal means.

3. Talk face-to-face or by phone to others instead of using e-mail. The benefits of this process far outweigh the time saved by using e-mail. Too much e-mail can be a “crutch” and seriously impact the fluidity of a group of people working to achieve common goals.

4. Conduct department-to-department staff meetings so that people can ask each other for information, clarification and process refinement, etc. It’s like “speed dating” for departments. For instance, gather staff from each department and give those people 10-15 minutes to ask people from another department for what they need or could provide to make their processes or organization function more smoothly. In other words, this is what we need from you. What do you need from us to make your jobs easier, more effective and fun?

Prioritize these ideas, assign who will do what by when, and then monitor in thirty days to determine results and make adjustments. In fewer than 60 minutes, the people in both departments will have gathered tons of precise information and a new outlook on their colleagues.

5. Talk about the white elephant in the corner that everyone knows about and talks about in their “cliques” but doesn’t address directly or in formal meetings.

These “TABOO” topics are the “real problems” that keep departments and companies from running faster than they currently do and could if they learned to overcome them.

Everyone knows about these white elephant topics and the professional “manipulators”, so the quicker these topics are brought to the table the quicker the organization can find solutions to them and move forward. I am not saying this process is going to be fun. All I’m saying is that I’ve done this HUNDREDS of times and in every case 99% of the people are much more productive and happier. and as a result, the organization can dump the anchors and start moving swiftly again. (the one percent that aren’t happy are the manipulators that either have to change their game to get along or are forced out).

This part of the process is often very difficult to decide on and implement. But like surgery, everyone is much healthier after the fact and the business and people within it will fly once this ball and chain topic or person isn’t keeping it grounded.

Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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Posted by at 2:42 PM