Here’s an approach my executive consulting and coaching clients use when a long-standing conflict or disagreement with someone on the team is damaging morale and productivity.

They affectionately call it Frank’s 10:90 Rule and here’s how it works:

Schedule a “Reconciliation and Moving Forward Meeting” to clear the air and to move forward. Both are important — hence the title of the meeting – although your primary focus should be on the moving forward part.

Spend 10% of your time discussing the events that, in your view, led to the problem or disagreement in the first place.

o  Use “I” statements when describing what you observed and how you felt.

o  Give ample time for your team member to respond. Listen actively and non-defensively. This is critical.

o  Wrap up the 10% portion of the meeting without trying to settle strong differences of opinion (if there are any). Know it’s unproductive to try to win an argument.

Transition to the 90% portion of the meeting by asking, “Okay, for the purposes of today and moving forward, how will we make sure this problem doesn’t happen again?”

o  The 10% part of the meeting is hard.

o  The 90% part is easier — brainstorming solutions and agreeing on a path forward means defenses are down and creativity is up.

Jot down your new agreed-upon processes, approaches, and steps and email a recap to your team member with a note of appreciation. As the team leader your gratitude sends the right message in how you acknowledge, address, and resolve conflicts with every member of your team.

Give this approach a try and let me know if it works for you.