I provide conflict coaching using the REAL Conflict Coaching™ System, and comply with the REAL Conflict Coaching Practice Standards.
What is Conflict Coaching?
Conflict coaching is a service provided by a conflict specialist to a person who is, or may in the future be, involved in conflict. Conflict coaching may be used as preparation for, or independently from, mediation.
It is a structured process that supports clients to work towards effectively managing their own conflict in the future. It is similar to counselling in that it is a one-on-one support service; however, it is not therapy. Rather, it provides a very practical method for clients to analyse their conflict, to consider the impact that it is having on their personal and/or working life, and to make informed choices about how to manage that conflict constructively in the future.
My role as a conflict coach is to assist the client to develop the 5 Cs:
- CLARITY: Gain clarity about the conflict situation.
- COMPREHENSION: Understand their own, and other people’s, needs and goals.
- CHOICES: Identify and evaluate their choices for moving forward.
- CONFIDENCE: Develop confidence about managing conflict and achieving their goals.
- COMPETENCE: Increase their conflict management skills so that they can constructively engage in the conflict.
I do not provide advice or make decisions for the client. The process is voluntary, and the individuals concerned choose whether or not to participate and also have complete control over any choices they make about the future.
Conflict coaching is a confidential process, and I work with only one person involved in the conflict (unlike mediation where the mediator works with both parties to the conflict). This is important so that the client feels that the I am supporting them 100% and so that the client can feel confident in discussing his or her needs and concerns openly with me.
For this reason, where you have two staff members in conflict who require coaches, I will work with one of your staff members and provide another independent REAL Conflict Coaching™ trained conflict coach to work with the other staff member. The two REAL Conflict Coaches will not discuss with each other anything that the clients tell them during coaching sessions.
If the parties decide to go on to participate in a mediation in the future, I will recommend an independent mediator who has not been involved in the coaching.
Importantly, any discussions that I have with my clients are confidential. In other words I will not disclose to the client’s manager/employer, or anyone else, what the client tells me. What the individual clients choose to disclose to others is entirely up to them.
Pre-Conflict Coaching Individual Meetings
Where the client has been referred by an employer, I will meet with the client’s employer and client separately for an initial consultation – each meeting will take about an hour. During this time I will explain to the client and to the employer what is involved in conflict coaching, and assist them to decide whether conflict coaching is suitable for their needs.
If the client wishes to proceed with conflict coaching, I will work with the client to develop a REAL Conflict Coaching plan for future sessions. The client (and his or her employer) will need to sign an Agreement to Participate in Conflict Coaching, setting out everyone’s responsibilities and expectations prior to the first coaching session.
Conflict Coaching Sessions
In most workplace conflict situations, clients undertake a conflict coaching program over a period of 12 weeks, with a 90 minute coaching session every fortnight. This program can be adapted to the client’s particular needs (e.g. if preparing for a mediation, more frequent sessions may be needed leading up to the mediation; or if the conflict situation is particularly difficult the client may wish to have weekly sessions).
Conflict coaching is not meant to be an ongoing support service. Ideally, except in cases of significant conflict that require long-term management, clients should make sufficient progress over a 6-session program to be able to effectively manage any ongoing conflict themselves.
Outcomes and Benefits
There are a range of potential outcomes and benefits of conflict coaching. Clients report great value in having an independent support person to discuss their conflict situation with. They frequently develop a deeper understanding of the situation from both their own and others’ perspectives. This also tends to promote better communication between the client and other people. Coaching also provides the opportunity for clients to develop competence and confidence in their conflict management skills, which they can use to more constructively manage their current conflict and other conflicts that may arise in the future.
The main objective of the conflict coach, irrespective of the choices clients make, is to support them to make their choices based on a good understanding of the situation and to manage their future actions in a constructive way.
Is there proof that coaching works?
The International Coaching Federation explains that there is considerable evidence that coaching works for both individuals and their employers:
The ICF Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness, and more growth and opportunities. The same study found that coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. Nearly 70 percent of individuals indicated they had at least made back their initial investment. The median suggests that a client who achieved financial benefit from coaching can typically expect a ROI of more than three times the amount spent.
According to the same report, the vast majority of companies (86 percent) say they at least made their investment back. In fact, almost one-fifth (19 percent) saw a ROI of 50 times their investment, while another 28 percent saw a ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment. Nearly all companies or individuals who hire a coach are satisfied. According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, a stunning 99 percent of people who were polled said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the overall coaching experience. For more details, go to the ICF Research Portal, as well as press releases about ICF’s return-on-investment research.
Is coaching right for you?
The International Coaching Federation has prepared a useful flowchart that can help you decide whether coaching, or some other kind of support, is what you need.