TH-P01-064 - Multi-focus intervention in solving long-term conflicts in the Evangelian Church

Conflict management
Poster Presentation
3 hours 30 minutes
O'Brien Foyer
Conflict in organizations
Conflict management
Multi-focus intervention in solving long-term conflicts in the Evangelian Church
H. Hopff*
This Paper demonstrates how a multi-focus intervention is necessary in solving long term conflicts in the church of Denmark. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark is state-supported with the reining monarch as the supreme secular authority. One of the Bishops called for expert consultancy after a year-long conflict in one of the parishes in Southern Denmark.
The participants are engaged into letting go of anger and distrust and to look for agreeable solutions for the future cooperation. A mind-set where the participants keep on looking for faults is considered a way of maintaining conflicts.
Individual interviews with all members of the parochial council. Individual interviews with Head of Secretary and the principal vicar. Interview with the Bishop and interviews with the parish vicars. The interviews had two means: 1.  To discover how the conflict has emerged and escalated.  The willingness to let go of distrust. 2. Engaging the participants in finding a common agreed solution. The interviews were followed by 6 group meetings with the participants.
8 of 10 members of the parochial council reported that the conflict had reached a level where they were capable of continuing their meetings without support from the consultant. Two members felt that the conflict still lead to distrust to other members of the council. The parochial council has successfully designed an all-new meeting agenda with structured feed back as a part of their meetings. This agenda makes it possible to address frustrations before they escalate into new conflicts.
Limitations and originality/value
This method has proven good value in a religious organisation. It is not known how the intervention will affect e.g. in the industrial sectors. However many public and commercial organisations are based on very strong values. This may lead to potential conflicts when communication is not able to manage differences in the employee values.
Practical implications
In long-term conflicts, assistance from outside consultants is necessary in order to manage the conflict. A team of two consultants is preferred as it is difficult for one consultant to stay in a neutral position. As prevention always is better than waiting until problems grow out of hand, value based organisations must try to implement structured feed back mechanisms as part of meeting agendas. 


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