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Conflict Management

Jul - 26 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

I just attended an amazing webinar hosted by the SirsiDynix Institute on Library Conflict Management. The presenter was Pat Wagner of Pattern Research – amazing speaker – website could use some work (sorry Pat).

This was the first webinar I had attended with 400 people in it! We did some surveys at the beginning to see what we were there and most of the people were there to learn how to improve their library’s culture. Pat started by explaining the difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict and then went into the 3 part cure and the 10 symptoms of unhealthy conflict. They are:

  1. Bitterness
    these people are stuck in the past and hold grudges. The cure is to leave your job and look for something else – but remember to leave your bitterness behind you
  2. Stopped Learning
    You all know where I stand on this one – never stop learning!! This is the kind of person who exempts themselves from classes and has no new goals. The cure? Update their job description to include required education and make them accountable for their actions.
  3. Stopped Contributing
    This goes hand in hand with #2 – This person only wants to do rote work and doesn’t seek out new tasks. How do you know if you’re this type of person? Can you write an entire resume out of what you have accomplished in your job over the last 3 to 5 years? The cure? Same as #2.
  4. Emotional Chaos
    This person is going through some sort of personal crisis (family, drugs, grief, etc) and everyone finds themselves walking on eggshells around that person. The cure – leave or at least don’t let them supervise others. This person is going to take their personal lives out on others (I know I’ve seen and lived through it).
  5. Values Violated
    This person has been asked to lie or witness a lie and asked not to say anything about it. This person may also feel that the libraries values have changed in a way they aren’t comfortable with. The cure? Change things, endure, or leave.
  6. Health Issues
    This person has aches and pains, can’t seem to get over the common cold – and there is nothing medically wrong with them. These symptoms are caused by stress. The cure? Provide limits and stress management training.
  7. Codependence
    This person is the rescuer, the mom figure, believes “this place will fall apart” without them. The cure? Flee, Flee, Flee – this is not a healthy environment for you – start over and change your role.
  8. Loss of Respect
    This person has developed a “benign contempt” for the people they work with, they no longer respect their colleagues or supervisors. They will make complaints to strangers about their work environment. The cure? Find a new job – why work where you don’t respect those around you?
  9. Career Inheritance
    This person got their job (or expects a promotion) due to longevity and spends their time waiting instead of working. The cure? Create a career plan for yourself with deadlines, if you’re not meeting those deadlines, it’s time to move on.
  10. No Consequences
    No one in this work place is ever fired or disciplined, no one is praised or rewarded, there are no evaluations or accountability. The cure? Change all of those things! Promote responsibility in the work place.

WOW! What a great list! And a great presentation watch the archives for the podcast and materials if you weren’t able to attend, because like I said, Pat is a great speaker and she didn’t lose my attention even once!

One Response so far.

  1. Thanks for providing a summary. That podcast was truly excellent.


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