So What’s Wrong With A Little Conflict In The Department?

Dealing with conflict is a frequent topic that Managers and Supervisors bring up in Supervisory Skills training workshops.


My BFF, Aesop, (You do remember we’re buds don’t you? I call him Sop.) once told a story about a mother of a bunch of children who constantly fought, made each other cry, irritated each other, and constantly bullied each other. One day she got the idea to send them out into the woods with instructions that each was to return with two sticks. (I always figured that she thought the momentary silence was worth the exercise.) When they returned, she instructed them to drop one of the sticks and then break the lone stick in their hand. Each was successful in breaking the single stick. Then she had them gather the remaining sticks together. She told them to each take a turn at breaking the bundle in one move. None of them could.


So, Grasshoppers, (I couldn’t resist that. Sorry, sort of.) what’s Sop’s teachable fable?


Is it the lesson of collaboration? Was it sacrificing for the greater good? Is it the message of strength in numbers? Was it the benefit of overcoming negative emotions? Is it e pluribus unum? (Oh, come on…out of many one.) Or, since the sticks also make a good fire, was she simply teaching many-hands-make-light-work?


When it comes to your company, your department; can you tolerate, afford the behavior of the mother’s children? You don’t have to. Take action. Remove toxic, cancerous, negative behaviors? Or, do you prefer the strength exhibited in the bundle of sticks? They don’t have to be the same shape or lengths; but together they have the potential to be a good fire when needed. Together the bundle can keep out the rain and cold. Together they…. (this is where you fill something in that relates to your department or your business. (IKR)


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