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conflict management

A Blueprint for Handling Uncomfortable Situations

An overflowing educational session at this week's IMEX America event offered lessons to planners on conflict management, accountability, and leadership.

The first morning of the IMEX America show in Las Vegas got right into some of the more difficult issues that meeting and event planners deal with in their jobs. For instance, Michelle Johnson, president of event-planning firm The Events Group and a former human resources executive, led a one-hour session attended by 125 people that focused on how planners can proactively create a framework to manage the conflicts that arise between planners and coworkers, between planners and vendors, or between other coworkers on the planning team.
One critical point Johnson made was that clarity at the start of a project, in terms of what's expected from each person and how often their progress will be checked on, minimizes misunderstandings that hurt performance and accountability later on. What's more, planners who emphasize an open-door policy for when problems arise—and who then show interest in the person first before getting to the issue of the moment—will get transparency and honesty in return. This results not only in a more complete understanding of the situation but also a willingness from that person to be part of the solution.
Nonetheless, there are times when colleagues have issues with vendors or with one another, requiring the planner to step in and initiate a process of resolution. Johnson emphasized that while transparent collaboration and compromise between all three parties is the best course of action, this does not mean the result must reflect equal concessions from both parties. "You try to blend elements from both sides, but you still must do what's best to reach the desired goal or outcome," Johnson said. However, to keep people positive and productive as they move on from the situation, it's best to communicate with each person in a style they are comfortable with and to show interest in each person and their professional progress.

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