As mayor, how would you handle conflict on council?
Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 06:00 am
Council is a group of personalities and conflicts are expected. A conflict shows passion, which is good. Conflict would require guidance from the leadership. I have a resume full of conflict resolution experience. Every conflict is different but often handled with the same techniques – patience, never pick sides and be fair, firm and consistent. Let the parties speak in their entirety. The conflict may just be lacking knowledge within the parties involved. If the issue at hand cannot be resolved, you may have to put it aside, deal with the next agenda item and set up a side -bar meeting.
Each member of council is elected by the citizens of Airdrie, and each person has their own experiences and perspectives. That is healthy and helps make better decisions. It’s also a reflection of the diversity in the community – where an artist can have a discussion with a banker, where a teacher can disagree with a business owner or a senior can share/express their strongly-held views to a college student. It is important for all of these discussions to be civil and respectful, but different viewpoints should be welcomed.
Conflict happens and is a normal part of any organizational setting; the key is how one chooses to deal with it. Clear, concise, accurate and timely communication of information will help to ease both the number and severity of conflicts.
How you handle conflict determines the amount of trust, respect and connection you have with your colleagues.
Prevent problematic behaviour from escalating beyond repair by taking swift action, but do not jump to conclusions before reaching a full understanding of the situation.
However, when all else fails resolve the issue not by playing favourites, but by doing the right thing.
I would manage conflict by being proactive in preventing it.
This can be accomplished by a) ensuring council understands their role in relation to each other, to legislation, to administration and to the public; b) having a clear understanding of issues and how they relate to current policy; c) holding each member of council accountable for ethical and respectful behaviour; d) focusing on issues in a neutral manner and preventing discussion from becoming personal; e) allowing each person the opportunity to express their thoughts openly; and f) understanding each person’s concerns and looking for common ground.