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Conflict Resolutiom: It's not about personality

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By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

It's an unscientific term for something we
see very often and yet understand very little. It's a major cause of firings
and the second-biggest factor in resignations (the biggest factor is neglect,
but that will be covered in another post).
It's commonly evinced in phrases like 'I don't
get on with him/her', 'we don't see eye to eye' or the brutally honest 'they
can't stand each other'.
So why is it that two, often very talented and
highly-motivated people, can't work together in the same team? Some people
think it's an inevitable 'Alpha Battle' in which the office's dominant
characters vie for supremacy and control. But we've all witnessed dozens of
situations where ambitious execs work co-operatively too. These are by far the
majority. Something else must be going on to cause the type of hostility we see
in these internecine clashes between otherwise civilised people.

Science can throw a light on this. Method
Teaming is a science that understands how different people's 'Intellects' combine
to form the perfect team. In this context 'Intellect' is not how intelligent
you are. It is how your intelligence is channelled. We each have one of only
four primary Intellects and these will stay with us throughout our life. If we
are lucky, we will find ourselves in a work team where our unique Intellect
(our primary Intellect plus all the secondaries) is a natural fit with the Intellects
of our colleagues. But if not, we may find that our Intellect jars with others
and there are two of us who are trying to do the same job. This is a natural
cause of conflict.
According to Method Teaming the problem with a
'personality clash' between two employees is not that they can't stand each other. It's that they can't understand each other. A Method Teaming
Intellect Profile (MTIP) carried out on both of them would illuminate how and
why they are trying to occupy the same space. Once they understand each other's
Intellect and natural motivations - the unseen drivers that fuel our sense of
purpose - they would realise that the other one is not trying to be
competitive, but is simply being pulled in a particular direction by their
underlying strengths and talents. Cue a tearful meeting to work things out and
distribute responsibilities.
Method Teaming in Action                                

We are rarely able to report on occasions when
Method Teaming is used within a corporation to resolve conflict. But one of our
trainers recently brought Method Teaming into play in the course of some long-running
family tensions. Here's her story. If you don't speak Method Teaming, skip over
the technical detail and absorb the rest:
A Tale of Two Brothers. How Method Teaming' healed a breach in a critical relationship, making a
team stronger.

Our subject is a large, close-knit family. It is a team bound by blood
and a commitment to help one another.  A
series of minor misunderstandings, layered with frustration allowed mistrust to
fester.  From mistrust rose factions
threatening the family health. Sound like a team you've been on? What to do?
Central to our story are two brothers, Juan and Tomas. I had the
opportunity to create a Method Teaming' Intellect Profile for each.  What I learned, then shared with them and the
family, changed everyone's perception of one of the brothers, for the better.  The trust gap was closed.  Going forward, decisions were made
The brothers were close in age and temperament.  Both highly intelligent and driven.  They chose the same profession.  Though not competitors in business or even in
the family, neither aimed to best the other. 
But on one issue they continued to butt heads: meeting the needs of the
extended family.
Juan was seen as unreservedly generous. 
Whatever was needed, calendars were cleared, wallets opened, no
questions asked. Tomas was seen as resistant, less responsive and generous. The
timing wasn't convenient, he always seemed to say. He was known to grumble,
'You're making me look bad.'  Did he want
to help or not?  It was hard to tell.
Siblings and spouses talked quietly behind the scenes, albeit never
maliciously, as this was against family code. Their objective: find a
productive way to deal with this divide. Their informal decision? Ask less of
Tomas. Strife lessened, though an uncomfortable, unspoken undercurrent
Was it an accurate read of Tomas' intentions?  Could the trust gap be closed with deeper
understanding? Small fissures can crack open big objects under stress. How many
small, misunderstandings result in preventable blow-ups that threaten or derail
critical work in our teams?
Let's consider their profiles.  As
a Method Teaming consultant, what did I see?
Since Tomas' behavior was perceived more negatively, let's begin
  1.  Motivators.  The SOC is above the horizontal bar and
    above the Ind.  Tomas puts the needs
    of others ahead of himself.  The IND
    is above the bar, as is the TRA, indicating Tomas is highly motivated to
    'make a difference.' These are supported by the evidence.
    1. His
      profession requires consistent empathy. 
      He was highly regarded, garnering many awards and a large, loyal
    2. He
      served as President or Executive Board member of his company, a large
      school as wellas multiple national and international professional
      societies.  He taught classes
      around the world and wrote chapters in textbooks.
  2. Natural
    Behavior.  Right facing C means
    Tomas likes to have structure, systems and plans.  The evidence:
    1. His
      calendar, combining family, social and professional obligations is
      planned over 18 months in advance. 
      Given the variety of highly responsible roles he manages, this is
      critical to his success and our story.
    2. His
      profession is a regular target for lawsuits.  Repeatable systems are critical.
  3. Cognitive
    1. Combining
      Intuitive C+2, attentiveness to people and their needs, with his
      Motivational pattern, Tomas will be concerned when he can't meet his
      commitments to others. When asked to juggle plans or resources on the
      fly, he is convinced he will
      look bad to someone.
    2. Combining
      Pragmatic C-2 with Conceptual C+2 magnifies things.  Tomas is hyper attentive to creating
      detailed plans to ensure success. 
      He hates problems, which must be dealt with now especially those causing his intricate plan to
Knowing this, are you surprised that Tomas seems unresponsive when asked
to 'drop everything,' to help a member of the extended family?  Couldn't you predict it?
How about Juan?
There are interesting similarities. But there are also two material
  1.  Natural Behavior: Left facing C.  Juan doesn't rely heavily on plans and
    systems, at least outside work.  He
    likes to respond to one-off situations with new approaches.
  2. Cognitive
    Behavior: Conceptual U-1.  Need a
    new plan?  No sweat.  Juan can create them in volume, on
Need someone to devise a plan to meet an unexpected problem? Juan is a
Working hypothesis:  Give Tomas
more time to plan how he is going to help the family and he will do so, in
equal measure to Juan. 
The result: Tomas was ecstatic that the family finally got it!  Yes, just give him some warning. He wanted to
help all along.  It took time to convince
the family.  Building trust takes
time.  It is the hardest element to build
in a successful relationship, and the easiest to destroy.  It has happened. Tomas now initiates and
funds major family events.  This forces
the rest of family to block their calendars much further in advance than they
would otherwise.  However, they tell us,
'It is always worth it.'
Do you have a 'Tomas' in your business team, someone who is high capable
but never seems to give of their best? Method Teaming will help you identify
the cause and show you how to fix it. It might be something very simple, but if
you don't know how to look for it, it will continue to fester and cost the rest
of the team dear. Build your entire team with Method Teaming. Get all the parts
working together like wheels in a well-oiled machine.

(With thanks to Susan Duralde.)

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