ORG Blog

Can Ongoing Intractable Conflicts in Organizations Be Solved?


The complex nature of human relationships means examples of intractable conflicts, unfortunately, aren’t hard to come by. Tribal wars have wiped out entire populations. Long-standing religious, racial, and cultural tensions have spawned deeply ingrained dissension. Political parties have become more and more polarized. Management and labor find themselves in a deadlock.

Topics: Conflict Resolution Intractable Conflict

Five Surefire Ways to Create Distrust with Employee Surveys

While much can be learned by conducting employee surveys, many corporations have learned the hard way that poor surveying technique can do more harm than good. In fact, generally, when executives are opposed to surveying, their opposition is based on poor experiences with surveying in the past.

Topics: Conflict Resolution Leadership Sustainable Change

Voices, Votes, and External Influence: Labor Management History Repeats Itself

November 22, 2014 will be the 21st anniversary of the end of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) strike at American Airlines. This is significant to me for several reasons– one is because I was there, in the middle, and I remember it like it was yesterday. The second is because recent history reminds me of the power of external influences on the labor- management process in the United States.

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership Overland Resource Group Sustainable Change

Labor-Management Collaboration on Communication Drives Business Improvement

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In organizations that are shifting toward higher levels of labor-management collaboration, “joint” communication that includes both management and union perspectives can demonstrate that organizational change is taking place in immediate and very visible ways. When employees see communication processes begin to reflect diverse perspectives– rather than strictly the company line or union messaging– it signals movement to a more open and honest environment and the development of collaborative relationships. Joint work and joint communication go hand and hand, each supporting and strengthening the other.

Topics: Breakthrough Collaboration Conflict Resolution Leadership

The Interest-Based Leadership Checklist: A Crucial Tool for Effectively Guiding Difficult Conversations

Part 3 of 3 in an Interest-Based Leadership series

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership Overland Resource Group

Labor-Management Relations at BART: Weathering a Storm of Their Own Making

danger thin iceWe didn’t want to be right.

Topics: Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership

A Tale of Two Leaders: How Interest-Based Leadership Affects Employee Engagement

Part 1 of 3 in an Interest-Based Leadership series

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership Sustainable Change

FAA Bucks Trend in Declining Employee Satisfaction

Amidst the barrage of sequestration-related negativity confronting the federal sector, there are bright spots that deserve not just notice, but celebration. Take, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration which, as the largest sub-component of the Department of Transportation, helped propel DOT to the top of the list of Most Improved Large Agencies in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings. Of particular note is the fact that the agency made significant progress at a time when a majority saw their employee satisfaction levels decline. As noted on the Best Places website, “Employee satisfaction decreased in 66 percent of agencies. A few agencies, however, defied the government-wide convention, including the Department of Transportation, a large agency which raised its score a full 4.1 points.”

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership Sustainable Change

Freshmen Orientation Should Include Collaboration Course

The following blog appeared in the January 9 edition of The Hill, a congressional newspaper that publishes daily when Congress is in session, and was also included in its Congress blog.

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership

Intractable Conflict At Hostess Brands

There is no question. If we look carefully enough at the labor/management conflict currently underway at Hostess Brands between the company and the Bakers’ Union we will see that this fight is clearly a full-blown intractable conflict.

For those of us who study these types of disputes, there are several signs that signal the presence of an intractable conflict -- i.e., humiliating dignity violations from both sides, hostile stereotyping by each side, and a merciless effort by each party to blame the other for everything that’s wrong.

All of these dynamics are now clearly at play in the conflict at Hostess Brands. Given this, there’s no doubt this dispute, at one point or another, is going to become a textbook example of an Intractable Conflict.

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management Leadership