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Managing Conflict

May 25, 2008 12:04 PM

Fundamental to the success of the USTA is the work of committees of volunteers and USTA national and sectional staff. Committees and staff research suggested or Board-directed proposals; propose, refine, review or evaluate programs, activities and budget allocations within duties; and provide timely recommendations to the Board.

Generally staff and volunteers in the USTA family have a positive relationship, as all are committed to the mission, goals and priorities of the USTA. But as in even the best families, conflict can sometimes arise. Disagreements regarding the interpretation of a Board decision, implementation responsibilities of a particular program and other concerns may result in conflict.

Several principles to keep in mind during periods of conflict are:

Maintain a spirit of mutual respect and understanding!
Keep in mind the USTA mission comes first!
Think team first! Disagreements should be resolved against a spirit of teamwork and partnership.
Disputes should be resolved promptly and not left unresolved for long periods of time so that small matters become aggravated.
Disputes should be resolved at the lowest possible level!

USTA Conflict Resolution Procedure

The USTA has established a procedure for managing conflict, keeping in mind disputes should be resolved at the lowest possible level.

Volunteers involved should discuss the conflict with the committee chair
Staff members should discuss the conflict with the department head. Responsible for the committee.
The committee chair and department head should then confer to seek resolution.

If the conflict cannot be resolved at the Committee Chair/Department Head level, the following steps have been identified:

The Committee Chair should contact the Division Council Chair and outline the conflict. In complex cases, the Council Chair may ask for a written report.
The staff Department Head should contact the Division Director.
The Council Chair and Division Director should confer to seek resolution. Decisions made at this level are considered final under ordinary circumstances.

If extraordinary circumstances occur that prevent resolution at the levels above, the following steps have been identified by the USTA:

The Council Chair will contact the Board Liaison to the Council and outline the conflict.
The Division Director will contact the USTA Chief Operating Officer (COO).
The Board Liaison and COO will confer to resolve the conflict.
If the conflict cannot be resolved by the Board Liaison and COO, the USTA Board of Directors will make final resolution.

Skills for Managing Conflict

We can all benefit from learning 12 skills essential to managing conflict at the lowest possible level. The skills are relevant to resolving any conflict. Pick and choose the skill – or skills – appropriate to your particular issue (from the Conflict Resolution Network):

The Win/Win Approach: identify attitude shifts to respect all parties’ needs.

Creative Response: transform problems into creative opportunities

Empathy: develop communication tools to build rapport and use listening to clarify understanding.

Appropriate Assertiveness: apply strategies to attack the problem, not the person.

Co-operative Power: eliminate ‘power over’ to build ‘power with’ others

Managing Emotions: express fear, anger, hurt and frustration wisely to effect change

Willingness to Resolve: name personal issues that cloud the picture

Mapping the Conflict: define the issues needed to chart common needs and concerns

Development of Options: design creative solutions together

Introduction to Negotiation: plan and apply effective strategies to reach agreement

Introduction to Mediation: help conflicting parties to move towards solutions

Broadening Perspectives: evaluate the problem in its broader context.

(Please visit http://www.crnhq.org/twelveskills.html to become savvy in managing the 12 skills.)

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