Faculty & Staff Resources
The University of Redlands’ Conflict Resolution Center assists faculty and staff members by providing information, training, and resources to manage conflict within the University of Redlands community. The Conflict Resolution Center has prepared guides and workshops for faculty, staff, and instructors on reducing instructional complaints, addressing conflict between students and colleagues, and incorporating restorative justice principles in the classroom. We invite you to explore these resources. If you need additional and/or personal support, a member of our team would be more than happy to meet with you. Contact the CRC.
Please explore the resources below if you are hoping to learn more about navigating conflict with colleagues or in the classroom on your own.
Managing Conflict with and between Colleagues
Personal and professional conflict between colleagues can lead to toxic work environments, mistrust, isolation, and even bullying. However, if are intentional about working together to build trust and manage conflict in a productive and student-centered manner, conflict can lead to growth and innovation.
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (2002), Patrick Lencioni lists five characteristics of cohesive teams, noting that teams must start with a foundation of trust and build up from there:
- They trust one another.
- They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
- They commit to decisions and plans of action.
- They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
- They focus on the achievement of collective results.
In analyzing the health and function of your own team, consider taking Lencioni’s Team Assessment. As you discuss the outcome with your team, you may consider the following discussion questions:
- Where is your team really strong and where do you have room to grow?
- Does trust vary based on the types of relationships that exist in the team (ex: trust of self, trust of peers, trust of supervisors, etc.)?
- How does your team create a space where being authentic and honest feels safe for all team members?
- How do members of your team hold themselves personally accountable? How do they hold other members accountable?
Managing Conflict in the Classroom
Conflict may also arise in the classroom, between students or between students and the instructor. Conflict may arise more often or be more emotionally charged in classes that deal with challenging topics, such as privilege, oppression, inequity, religion/faith, sexuality, political belief, and other topics about which students may have strongly held beliefs. Using principals of restorative justice may help to diffuse this conflict and help the classroom to remain a safe learning space for all students. At its core, restorative justice focuses on relationships. When using an RJ approach in the classroom, here are some tips that may help to diffuse conflict:
- If needed, allow students time and space to cool off before engaging in restorative practice.
- Encourage students to share, listen, and check understanding.
- Focus on the harm or hurt rather than the individuals involved.
- Have students co-create or co-identify solutions to resolve conflict and rebuild relationships.
Teaching students how to productively give and receive feedback may also help students engage in the classroom. Here are some tips for students as they give and receive feedback:
- Ask if the receiver is in a place to receive feedback
- Use “I” statements
- Focus on specific and concise examples, not attacks
- Make feedback timely and contextual
- Consider using the phrase “This is what I/the group needs moving forward…”
- Deliver positive feedback freely and frequently
- Providing feedback is not an opportunity to provide advice or say “you should…”
- Avoid generalizing words like all, never, always, etc.
- Focus on giving feedback in a way that allows the receiver to keep their dignity in tact
- Consider body language and tone
- Use active listening: listen for understanding, not for rebuttal and do not interrupt
- Stay curious and not defensive
- Ask clarifying questions
- Ask “what will repair the harm?”
- Let others know if you are not in a space to receive feedback
- If the feedback makes you feel upset, mad, or sad, reflect on what about the feedback hurts
- Give yourself time and space to reflect on feedback.
Additional Resources for Managing Conflict
- Chapman, G. & White, P. (2019). 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People. Northfield Publishing.
- Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Wiley and Sons, Inc.
- Sutton, R.I. (2010). The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. Business Plus.
- Building deeper personal relationships can result in greater empathy in your professional team or in your classroom. Here are some discussion questions that you can use in either place to encourage bonding:
- What is your most significant personal or professional failure and what did you learn from it?
- When were you most proud of a professional accomplishment? Why was that moment notable?
- What are you stressed about?
- What makes you excited about your job? What brings you joy at work?
- What do you need to feel successful?
- How do you feel appreciated in the workplace?
- When are you most productive (time of day, day of the week, etc.)?
- What conditions do you need to work productively?
- Understanding different personalities, leadership styles, and working styles can help your team (or classroom) create systems that work well for everyone. Here are some tools that can help your team gain better understanding of their own and other’s styles:
Note: Engaging in these assessments may require financial investment as a team. There may be additional personality and style assessments that can be useful that are available online at no cost as well.