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M2.04 Conducting the mentoring process

7. Conflict during the mentoring process

A positive mentor–mentee relationship is essential for a successful mentoring process.
Mentor should be able dealing with conflict, identify issues and find solutions.
Effective mentors create a supportive environment in which mentors and mentees can:
  • express freely and with confidence and trust the source of conflict;
  • seek to identify a common goal through compromise;
  • remain solution focused:
  • manage and evaluate the risks presented by conflict.
Conflicts are a natural result of putting diverse people together and asking them to work as partners. If a mentoring pair can work through conflicts by valuing how diverse they are, the richness of their different viewpoints, background, and experience, then they can learn a great deal more from each other, precisely because they are not thinking the same way. Seen from this perspective, differences can be a strength, not a weakness of any relationship.

Conflict management can be a healthy way to open up lines of communication, initiate problem solving and discuss change. Knowing how to best manage conflict can have many benefits both mentor and mentee. In many cases, conflict in the workplace just seems to be a fact of life. We've all seen situations where different people with different goals and needs have come into conflict. And we've all seen the often-intense personal animosity that can result. The fact that conflict exists, however, is not necessarily a bad thing: as long as it is resolved effectively, it can lead to personal and professional growth. In many cases, effective conflict resolution can make the difference between positive and negative outcomes.

The good news is that by resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of the problems that it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that you might not at first expect:

Increased understanding: The discussion needed to resolve conflict expands people's awareness of the situation, giving them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people.

Increased group cohesion: When conflict is resolved effectively, team members can develop stronger mutual respect and a renewed faith in their ability to work together. Improved self-knowledge: Conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail, helping them understand the things that are most important to them, sharpening their focus, and enhancing their effectiveness.

However, if conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging. Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike. Teamwork breaks down. Talent is wasted as people disengage from their work. And it's easy to end up in a vicious downward spiral of negativity and recrimination. If you're to keep your team or organization working effectively, you need to stop this downward spiral as soon as you can.