Two front-line supervisors of interdependent teams were having conflict. The nature of the business required a great deal of interaction between them and the teams that they led.
These two supervisors had been working together for quite some time, but the situation was getting worse. In fact, the lack of ineffective communication between them was impacting the work of their team members as well. They were both trying to exercise control of certain situations, each stepping over into the other’s domain.
First, I met with both supervisors individually and asked them about the nature of their work, about each other and their perspectives on the conflict. My observation was that they were both high in the “D” style of the DISC human behavior theory. High D’s while decisive and focused on results also tend to exercise control over their environment.
My recommendation was to have them and a few of their direct reports evaluate how the two teams work together (as a benchmark for collecting the same data later). Then, I proposed an offsite training program focused on DISC and communication styles as well as trust activities for the two teams. We conducted this offsite for a series of 6 two-hour sessions with two-week intervals. Once everyone learned about their own and each other’s DISC styles, we were able to have honest and productive conversations about the conflict and how it could be reduced to near elimination. The two supervisors began to even laugh at themselves and each other and ended up working so much better together. The post-program data showed some significant changes in the working environment based on the pre-program benchmark. Since I was doing other work for this client, it allowed me the opportunity to stop by and speak informally with all involved. Participants shared how what they learned is still impacting them and how much better things are.
"You can have the best people in the business,
but if they're not collaborating and they are butting heads, then it's all going to go south." - Dana Brunetti