This morning on my ride in I was listening to Jason Calcanis’s weekly ThisWeekInStartUps when the guest, Jerry Colonna shared a technique for handling workplace conflict.

The Setup

Jason was mad because some employees went for lunch, and then virtually ‘checked in’ to the office using the iPhones while still at lunch. This made Jason mad. What are they doing billing time while at lunch!

Jason got mad. Confronted them. And basically treated them like children

OMB

This is when Jerry told Jason of a technique he likes called OFNR (Observation, Feedback, Needs, and Request). This is how Jerry would have like Jason to handle the situation.

Observation

You make an observation.
Your observation is incontrovertible.
This happened.
Did this happen? Yes.
So now you have agreement.

Feedback

When I see you do this, it makes me question your intelligence.
It makes me even question your loyalty.

Needs

And here’s the truth of this company.
I need to be surrounded by people who’s intelligence I don’t question.
We need to build a company where we are not worrying about whether we can trust each other.
I don’t know that I can trust you.

Jerry to Jason: So now you have a choice. You can either fire them, or your can say.

Request

What were you thinking when you did this?
What made you think this was OK.
Because if there is some need, that you have…like you needed more time, more money, then why didn’t you come to me.
I am not telling you I am going to meet that need.
But at least we can have a dialogue about it.

Because that is what an adult does.

See Jason, you fell into the trap of treating them like children.
They induced it in you because they behaved like children.

The opportunity you had was to ask them to behave like an adult.
By not responding to them like a parent.

Anyways. Great story. Really like Jerry’s approach. It sounds better in the podcast.
Here’s the episode. The story comes in ~53min.

Cheers – Jonathan

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