By Douglas R. Conant Article
“If you’re a 3rd Alternative supervisor, you’ll neither flee nor fight. You’ll look for something better [when conflict arises], a solution that will provide your employee with a huge emotional payoff and create for the firm new and significant value. …
Consider how this woman led her team to a 3rd Alternative:
- First, she took time to listen empathetically. She wanted to understand her young employee’s issue and his feelings about it. On the face of it, she wanted to know why his salary bothered him. But more deeply, she wanted to grasp what he was all about and what he could bring to the company that would pay off for everyone, not just for him.
- Then she sought him out. She brought him back again and again, explored his thinking and involved other thinkers. She valued his distinctive gifts and insights.
- Finally, the group arrived at synergy: new services, new products, new ways of meeting the needs of an important client, and beyond that the needs of a new segment of clients.
… Most thinkers about conflict resolution treat a conflict as a transaction. It’s about dividing up the pie. You can either accommodate or confront your opponent. You can give away the pie or you can fight over it, and there are techniques and tricks to gain an advantage. But divide it as you will — in the end, it’s the same pie.
By contrast, the 3rd Alternative is to transform the situation. It’s about making a new pie that’s bigger and better — perhaps exponentially bigger and better. Where most conflict resolution is transactional, the 3rd Alternative is transformational.”