About the Author
is a lawyer, certified coach and
of the Academy of
Advanced Practitioners – ACR) and
author of Conflict
Management Coaching: The CINERGY™
Model. Cinnie chairs
the Conflict Coaching Practice Area
of ACR’s Workplace
The Growth of
Conflict Management Coaching
in the Workplace
Not so long ago, “coaching” in
organizations referred to a remedial
measure required of staff members due to
inadequate job performance, unacceptable
behavior, chronic lateness, poor time
management or other reasons that were
causing problems within the workplace.
The punitive element inherent in that
approach to coaching often created a
blemish on the employee’s personnel
record and career advancement.
Though some vestiges of this form of managing staff seen to be problematic still exist, the field
of coaching that developed in the early 1990s has
steadily evolved to the point where coaching in
organizations is now more about assisting people
achieve their professional best.
The current approach recognizes the philosophy
of coaching as stated by the International Coach
Federation ( www.coachfederation.org), the largest
coaching organization in the world. This organization defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a
thought-provoking and creative process that inspires
them to maximize their personal and professional
potential.” The coach’s role is multi-dimensional and
aims to support clients in their efforts to bridge the
gap between where they are and where they want
to be. A coach facilitates this process by using techniques that build clients’ awareness and help them
set, achieve and measure their goals.
As the field of coaching has developed, a number of categories and specialties have emerged,
including organizational, business and life coaching.
One specialty, conflict management coaching (also
known as conflict coaching),has gained traction in
both the coaching and ADR fields.
Conflict management coaching may be defined as
a one-on-one process in which a trained coach helps
individuals gain increased competence and confi-
dence to engage in their interpersonal conflicts and
disputes. It is a future- and results-oriented process
that concentrates on assisting clients to reach their
specific conflict management objectives. This article
discusses this fast-growing practice and a number
of its applications in the workplace.
Conflict management coaching in workplaces can
be used to help employees, managers and executives, all of whom may need to be able to effectively
manage conflict. It can be used independently of or
in tandem with mediation or other ADR techniques.
The main purpose of one-on-one coaching is to
increase the person’s proficiency in independently
engaging in conflict.
Sometimes coaching is employed to prepare
clients for an anticipated conflict: a difficult and
contentious conversation (such as a performance
review or related matter), negotiation of an issue
about which there will be disparate interests (such as
salary, increased benefits and so on), a request (to a
boss, colleague, direct report and someone else) for
something about which pushback is likely, or the
expected negative reactions to the announcement
of new policies, decisions or processes. Generally
speaking, the overall aim is to prepare to deliver and
respond to messages that might be problematic, to
prevent an unnecessary escalation of the conflict,
and to maintain one’s equilibrium while doing so.
Coaching during a dispute seeks to preempt further
evolution of a conflict-saturated interaction that is
already in progress. Goals in these situations may be
to gain distance from the dynamic, to consider one’s
options, or to contemplate what is needed to reconcile matters in a conciliatory way. With the coach’s
help clients may also practice how to respond to the
other person and to better present their viewpoints.
In some cases, clients may want to explore whether
mediation is a possible forum to address the issues