Resolving workplace conflict

In many situations Thera Rising’s Three Step Teambuilding process is the perfect antidote for getting teams back on track.

However, in circumstances where tension is widespread and multi-faceted, we recommend a more comprehensive approach that includes confidential interviews and feedback to leaders.


1) Creation of a planning team: The facilitator meets with a small group consisting of 2-3 internal individuals. Together they define the project scope and goals, identify who will be interviewed and finalize the list of questions that will be asked.

2) Introduction to the team: The project is introduced to team members – steps and confidentiality are defined and concerns are addressed.

3) Assessment: A cross-section of individuals are interviewed face-to-face in a confidential setting. When the interviews are complete, the answers are scrambled, identifying information is removed and the facilitator creates a summary of themes.

4) The executive overview: The facilitator presents an overview of the interview data to the planning team. During this meeting the remaining steps of the project are finalized.

5) Leadership feedback and goal setting: If leaders choose to receive confidential feedback only the person for whom the data are intended sees the comments. However, working with the facilitator, the recipient immediately begins turning feedback into realistic and achievable goals, which they share during step six. To date, 100% of leaders who have been given this opportunity have participated.

6) Based on interview findings, the following activities occur over a 1-2 day period:

Skill-building and profound learning during the seminar Drama-Free Work. Using case studies and humorous anecdotes teams experience: the self-defeating nature of blame, divisive factions, personality attribution, negative reciprocity, inflammatory thinking, anger and incivility. They contrast these findings with the benefits of moving in the opposite direction, learning how to be “hard on the problem, soft on the people,” replacing negativity with the power of connectivity, and opening the dialogue with a 96% chance of success. Typically, within 24-hours, staff, faculty and leaders observe meaningful, permanent change.

Share leadership goals: Leaders who have chosen to receive feedback share a summary of their feedback and goals with their team. During this gathering leaders and employees negotiate specific behaviors that support the leader’s success.

Create a Code of Conduct: After learning vital concepts in the seminar and responding to their leader’s goals, the team is prepared to address behaviors within the group. The process of creating a Code of Conduct uses peer pressure to strengthen positive behaviors and gently nudge outliers toward healthier norms.

Address structure and work processes: Based on interview results, any problems in workflow or structure (such as inadequate communication, ineffective meetings, etc.) are addressed.

When I discovered how dysfunctional our core management team had become, I was deeply troubled. I was fortunate to discover Thera Rising. The team is not only much happier, but they now have strategies to avoid ever stumbling to this degree again.

Jonathan K., President

7) Resolve conflict between pairs (optional): Often, two individuals with long-standing mistrust served as the trigger for divisive factions within their teams. However, since it is not effective to address one-on-one conflict in a group setting, the facilitator works with the pair privately in a series of brief, but highly focused, meetings that result in lasting resolution.

8) Follow-up: The planning team creates a process to monitor progress and follow up.

Return On Investment

The fiscal investment for team-building projects varies depending on the size of the group and the steps deemed necessary for lasting improvement. Thera Rising’s clients report that their conflict resolution projects result in a return on investment between 600% and 900%.

About Thera Rising International: Headquartered in the Twin Cities, President Anna Maravelas, Psychologist Emeritus, has resolved more than 300 workplace conflicts. She is the author of “Creating a Drama-Free Workplace” (Red Wheel Weisser). Thera Rising’s techniques have been featured in more than 35 publications including Oprah Magazine, American Management Association, and Harvard Management Review. Discover why The New York Times named her “The best source on workplace tension and mistrust.”


Thera Rising is nothing less than a wonder. We have become comfortably more profitable as well as a more satisfying place to work.

Gregory D. Lee President Carl Zeiss, IMT

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