Transforming Conflict Into Communication Through Diversity Management

Managing Intergroup Conflict

A volatile conflict developed between newly hired professional employees and service staff who were veterans of the company. At the same time, newcomers perceived that the supervisor exhibited favoritism and preferential treatment of longer service employees. Initially, the Company sought to address potential liability issues in this division. They subsequently took the opportunity to educate all the divisions in the organization.


We conducted focus groups with the two factions and interviewed the supervisors. 360° feedback was also given to supervisors. We provided education and training for supervisors and staff.


Initially we separated the 2 groups in order to ensure a safe learning environment. Later the training was conducted jointly, as this allowed for facilitated, open dialogue with all parties and established accountability for actions. Additionally, we followed up with in-house staff.

In the at-risk division we:

  • strategized with the head of the diversity council to guide and develop an effective structure and action plans for the council;
  • provided education and conducted formal dialogue with the crisis group;
  • provided feedback and advice to senior leaders following training sessions to increase the diversity management capability of managers in the at-risk divisions.


The interventions and actions resulted in increased leader/management awareness of diversity challenges and solutions that needed to be actively managed. They also led to acknowledgment of personal responsibility of all parties for creating a healthy working environment.

Greater attention was given to diversity’s impact on the business needs of the unit.

  • The company instituted changes in selection, performance appraisal, development and mentoring processes, and increased communication around issues leading to dissatisfaction.
  • They also identified processes for addressing critical issues in at-risk divisions.

These actions supported the issues raised in employee survey data.