Conflict is challenging, tiring, and frustrating. It’s also unavoidable. As a leader, you may experience more than your fair share of conflict situations. Knowing how to resolve them is critical to not only peace within your business, but to the ongoing productivity of your business.
Fortunately, the VOMP model, created by Crosby Kerr Minno Consulting, is a proven method for resolving conflicts effectively. VOMP stands for Ventilation, Ownership, Moccasins, and Plan. Here’s how the model works.
“V” is for “ventilation.” When resolving a conflict, it is essential that each party hears the other person’s side of the story. It is not necessary to agree with the other person; it is only necessary to understand the other person. During this stage of the process, you need to communicate both your thoughts and your feelings about the situation, and you must listen carefully to the other person as he or she explains their thoughts and feelings.
The next step is “ownership.” Everyone contributes a piece to a conflict. This step is where you “own,” that is, accept responsibility for your piece of the problem. As humbling as it may feel, admit to whatever you have contributed to the situation. However, be certain not to take on more than your fair share. Accept only your responsibility, not the other person’s.
“M” is for “moccasins,” from the old phrase “walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins.” In this step, both parties need to express their understanding of and empathy for the other person’s experience and point of view. “Understanding” doesn’t necessarily mean agreement and “empathy” does not mean sympathy. This step lets the other person know that, given what they have told you in the Ventilation step and what they have taken Ownership of, you now have a better understanding of the situation as they saw it. This is where you express their feelings, and they express yours.
The final step in the VOMP model is to plan. This is where you strive for a solution. You talk about how you are going to ensure that things going forward will be different, and discuss what each of you needs and wants and is willing to do.
Let’s see how the VOMP model works in action through this hypothetical but very common scenario:
Tensions escalated during a quarterly meeting between Mary Ann, VP of New Business Development, and Sam, VP of Business Operations, at ABC Website Design Company. Beginning with Ventilation, Sam expresses concern over salespeople bypassing the approved proposal process and promising clients too-low quotes and too-short timelines. Mary Ann counters that providing quotes quickly and turning projects around rapidly is crucial to getting and retaining clients.
In the Ownership stage, Sam takes responsibility for being potentially overly rigid about the formal process. Mary Ann acknowledges the need for sales to align better with operations and concedes that some commitments might have been made in haste.
During the Moccasins stage, Sam empathizes with Mary Ann’s drive to secure clients in a competitive market. Mary Ann shows an understanding of Sam’s role in maintaining operational efficiency and financial health.
For the Plan stage, Sam proposes the creation of well-defined pricing guidelines and timelines for four basic project types. Mary Ann’s sales team can instantly provide quotes and timeframes for these projects, given the set guidelines. For projects beyond this scope, a formal proposal process will still be required. This collaboration ensures that the sales team aligns with operational realities while maintaining the flexibility to address client needs.
By following the VOMP model, Mary Ann and Sam can effectively navigate their conflicting positions, leading to a mutually beneficial plan that acknowledges the necessity of both client satisfaction and operational efficiency.
You will not become an expert in the VOMP process overnight, so be patient and persistent. Your skills will grow and develop through practice, commitment, and motivation. The end result – achieving new levels of both comfort and success in handling conflict – is well worth the effort!