Swedish social psychologist Claes Janssen proposed a metaphor for understanding change in organizations. He called it the Four-Room Apartment. I think it’s an effective way to think about managing workplace conflict, too.
In Contentment, team members accept things the way they are. A conflict situation can move a group into Denial, where they know things aren’t working well but don’t take action to improve them. Left unattended, conflict moves a work group into Confusion, where anxiety is high and it’s unclear how to get out. With the right assistance, the group can ultimately move to Renewal, where the act of talking things out effectively leads to new ideas, new hope, and stronger teamwork.
The messiest and yet most promising room is Confusion. Handled well, the team’s future is bright. Mishandled, the team carries debris forward as it continues its ongoing cycles through the rooms.
How are you helping your workplace teams handle conflict effectively in the Confusion Room?