Case Study

Managing conflict situations

Case Study

Managing conflict situations

by Ivana Bozicevic

How coaching helped a sales director become better at managing conflict and achieving balance

Susan, a sales director responsible for 4 markets, was introduced to coaching through human resources initiative and her boss. She welcomed an opportunity to develop professionally and personally but was unsure of her capacity to change. At 40 years old, she has been with the company for more than 10 years and felt that the way she was engaging and working was a result of her personality and the corporate context of which she was part of.

Together with the HR department and Susan’s sponsor, her boss, we agreed on several coaching goals. The highest emphasis was put on managing conflict and staying calm in crisis situations.

Everyone agreed that they admired Susan’s loyalty, dedication, capacity to handle a number of complex issues simultaneously and the grit with which she would handle demanding distributors. The other side of the coin was that this was exactly how she would talk to her peers and team – demanding the best, direct and determined in her communication and with little patience for those who were not able to follow her pace.

It took a few sessions to gain Susan’s trust. It took a few more for her to achieve quick wins and become aware that she can alter the way she sees herself and other people, situation and the world, and also try out new ways of reacting. Most of the time, for her, that would be to not react at all but just observe and become aware of her feelings, especially during conflict. Her preferred style, that of an attacker, wasn’t coming from malice or desire to dominate, but from her embedded belief that she always needs to stand up for herself. When we explored multiple ways of taking care of herself, she no longer felt the need to always aggressively protect her point of view. Then, we worked on Susan’s ability to choose a reaction that is the best for her and others involved.

We ended up working together for 16 months.

At our completion session Susan commented:

“I now look at myself and the world with new-found awareness. At work, but also my private life, I have a choice to react calmly or not, depending on what a specific situation requires.

This has brought me more peace and I find it easier to connect to others. The conflict situations are quite rare nowadays. That said, I will always care about my job and my team, and will express that care with passion.”