Print Icon

Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #27: In our last issue, we addressed healthy/constructive conflict; several HVAs were provided to help leverage, and profit from, this type of conflict. As promised, today's issue will tackle the antithesis to healthy conflict ... destructive conflict.

Leaders (You) are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to achieve great things. If disagreements and/or differences of opinion escalate into interpersonal conflict, you must intervene — immediately. While you might disagree with this advice because you believe that employees should try to work out their differences directly before asking a supervisor to step in (and I agree with you in principle), the intervention I'm suggesting is more about setting the right expectations — letting both parties know that any personal conflict that's negatively affecting people (engagement and morale) and work (overall productivity) will not be condoned.

The contemporary workplace is made up of individuals with very diverse backgrounds (and upbringing) so it's very possible some of your employees do not understand or appreciate your expectation that employees resolve conflicts quickly and proactively (as adults). The HVA steps below will help employees develop their own conflict-resolution skills.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: Whether or not your team is experiencing any interpersonal conflict at this moment, now is a good time to set the right expectations for healthy conflict resolution. Here are a few HVA action steps that will set the ground rules:

  • Establish specific guidelines regarding what employees should do if they experience interpersonal conflict with a peer. Let them know you expect they will attempt to resolve conflicts before approaching a supervisor for help. Also let them know that you will not choose sides because it's impossible for someone outside of the interpersonal conflict to know the truth of the matter. [Your goal here is to create a workplace culture in which managing conflict is viewed as a foundational job competency regardless of the employee's role in the organization.]
  • Remind employees that when addressing interpersonal conflict, they should focus on behaviors and the impact/consequences of the behavior, not on the personality characteristics of the individual they're having the conflict with. This is a good place to suggest they replace "You" language with "I" language (see the previous CORE Bites for a full description). Let them know that personal attacks and antagonistic language have no part in successful conflict resolution and will be unacceptable.
  • Suggest to employees that they enter the conflict resolution with positive intentions. Remind them that if they're out to 'prove' (as in proving someone is wrong) then it's likely the conversation will be viewed as negative or threatening to the other party. Recommend they embrace an 'improve' ideology (looking for ways to create positive outcomes and/or strength in the relationship). This is when you can suggest the concept of finding the 'common ground' ... looking for areas where there may be more similarities than differences. [Something I've used successfully when mediating interpersonal conflict between employees is to have the two individuals draw a Venn diagram (two overlapping circles) and focus in on the intersection (where the two circles overlap) to list those areas where there is agreement and commonality of purpose, goals and/or outcomes.]
  • It's an uncomfortable reality, while we'd love to have employees work out their individual differences, that managers must be notified of, and involved in, conflicts where there are indications of potentially illegal behavior, physical violence, harassment, theft, or possession or use of illegal substances. [Employees should never be expected to confront violations of the law or to enforce company policy.]
  • Finally (and on a positive note), assure employees that you have every faith in their ability to resolve their individual differences but that you are there should they run into an impasse. [This is where your mediation skills will be put to good use.]

Organizations need people who can handle day-to-day issues independently, analyze problems, develop solutions and take steps to implement them. This includes task- and function-related problems ... as well as people-related problems. The aforementioned steps should help.

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer

"In a conflict, being willing to change allows you to move

from a point of view to a viewing point — a higher, more expansive place, from which you can see both sides."

Thomas Crum 

Looking for previous issues of CORE Bites HVAs? Go to our Archives Repository.

An online version of this CORE Bites HVA (current issue) can be viewed here.


GDPR Authenticity Information (the legal stuff):

Clearview Performance Systems, Inc.

24573 N 119th Pl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 USA

Authorized Representative: Neil Dempster

Email Address:  


This leadership tip was sent by to

To unsubscribe from the CORE Bites weekly leadership HVA: Unsubscribe