The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is one of the most effective conflict management strategies I’ve seen. It is also known as the Conflict Resolution Inventory.
This facilitated activity uses the Thomas Kilmann questionnaire to assess behaviour in conflict situations.
It is based on a model of conflict modes, which enables an analysis of individual styles in particular situations.
Individuals can identify their primary style, and assess the productiveness of that style in the various situations that they encounter.
They then have the choice to continue with that style, or to adopt others if they are more appropriate.
- To create a model and language with which to analyze conflict situations that arise.
- To develop options for constructively resolving conflicts.
- For individuals within a team to start addressing unproductive conflict resolution behavior.
Why would you use it?
- Having a model with which to analyze situations can help the constructive resolution of conflict.
What is the outcome?
- The Team will have a model and a language with which to analyse any conflict situations that arise, and some options for constructively resolving these conflicts.
- Individuals within the team may start to address their unproductive conflict resolution modes.
- The Facilitator explains the objectives of the process to the Participants that they’ll be considering situations in which they find their wishes differing from those of another person. How do they usually respond to such situations?
- The Facilitator hands the Participants the 30 Questions where there are several pairs of statements describing possible behavioural responses.
- The Participants consider each pair, and circles the ‘A’ or ‘B’ statement which is most characteristic of your own behaviour.
- When every Participant is finished the Facilitator introduces ‘The Five Conflict Modes’ using the slide in this pack.
- The Facilitator hands the Participants the Scoring Sheets and asks them to total up their scores in each of the five columns.
- The Team then splits into small groups/pairs and each group considers when it might be appropriate to use a particular style and what the pitfalls of each style might be.
- The Facilitator asks the groups to report back in plenary and reviews the exercise using the rest of the slides.
To give you a taster of the type of questions you’ll get in the TKI here are 3 examples. Choose A or B which you would be more likely to use…
How to Score
- The scores show how the person taking the test faces conflict situations.
- Their scores can be brought into a graph and measured against other participants.
- The five conflict modes are represented by the five columns labelled ‘Competing’, ‘Collaborating’, ‘Compromising’, ‘Avoiding’ and ‘Accommodating’.
- People taking the test get a percentage score for each of the five conflict modes.
- Every score can be related to the scores of others who have taken the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument in the past.
- For example someone can get a score of 70% on Collaborating. This means they have scored higher than 70% of others who have taken the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument – i.e. they are in the top 30% on collaboration.
- If a score falls somewhere between 25% and 75% on a mode, it means they are close to the average.
- If their score falls below 25% or above 75%, then their use of that mode is higher or lower than most of others who have taken the test.
Conflict Resolution Styles
When to use different styles?
- Quick, decisive action needed
- Important but unpopular issues are at stake and where there isn’t “right” way
- Trivial issues
- No chance of getting what you want
- Potential risk of confrontation outweigh benefits of resolution
- Other better places to resolve the issue
- Moderately important goals but not worth potential disruption of more assertive modes
- Two equally strong parties committed to mutually exclusive goals
- Back up competing/collaborating
- Both sets of concerns too important to be compromised
- Needs insights from different perspectives
- Increases others’ commitment to solutions
- Long-term major issues
- Issue much more important to other party
- To limit damage of continued conflict
- To bank favors
- When in the wrong
- When you are going through the questions sometimes you see the people doing the TKI will find that neither of the statements feels 100% right. When that happens ask them to select the response that is most likely.
- It should be remembered that extreme scores are not necessarily bad, since the participant’s situation may require high or low use of a given conflict-handling mode.
- No one approach is correct. One must tailor their response to the situation. The essential element to realise is that conflict should be understood and managed and not feared.
- There are also several methods of ensuring that the conflict does not lead to a break down in the group’s ability to work together:
- Encourage the debate to emerge.
- Ensure that the debate is kept to an issue and is not personalised.
- This can be achieved by noting the key issues on a flip chart.
- Ensure that the debate is kept focused on the future, not in recriminations over past problems.
- Encourage people to say what they have to say to each other and not have all points addressed through a third party.
- Avoid premature “taking of sides”.