How do you manage a conflict situation in a network?

Hoe ga je om met een conflictsituatie in een netwerk?

Conflicts can arise in franchisor/franchisee relationships, most often as a result of poor communication. To prevent the situation from escalating, we need to re-establish dialogue by making the disagreement explicit. There’s no need to keep things quiet. Gradually, franchisee and franchisor will redefine a common objective.

Monday morning, at the start of the day and the week: the network coordinator for Compagnie des Déboucheurs (93 addresses specializing in pipe inspection) meets with one of his franchisees. One customer complained that she hadn’t had an intervention in time.

Rather than enter into a direct confrontation with his partner, the host asks him what happened. Quite simply, a hiccup in the machinery. In the end, they both agree that the priority is to call the disgruntled customer back and respond to her request. The incident is closed. Most of the conflicts in our network stem from simple communication problems,” comments Régis Aubry, network development manager at Compagnie des Déboucheurs. That’s why it has to be fluid. And a quick exchange with the network coordinator, by telephone or videoconference, helps prevent little things from escalating.”

Because conflict doesn’t necessarily mean battle! “We use the word conflict in everyday language for a whole spectrum of situations, from disagreement to the breakdown of a relationship, when we tell ourselves that we no longer trust him and that we should be wary”, explains Aurélie Durand, BtoB coach and psychologist. Conflict often arises when the content of information no longer flows. If the relationship deteriorates, the content will be interpreted. We’re no longer dealing with something objective, but something more important, more emotional.

How can we avoid getting there? As Régis Aubry’s testimony illustrates, you need to defuse the situation as quickly as possible by putting words to what’s going wrong. “If something disturbs, you have to question, dare to ask the question: ‘you wrote or said this, but I’m not sure I understand. What’s the intention?” As soon as you sense a disagreement, you have to make it explicit right away,” agrees Aurélie Durand. Does either party believe that there is malicious intent, that the other party is not putting his cards on the table? Be careful, she could feel insecure and start a power struggle!

“In the context of franchising and entrepreneurial profiles, we can assume that we’re dealing with personalities with convictions and assertiveness. In other words, two high positions facing each other, which can lead to a game of ping-pong and a relational explosion, comments Aurélie Durand. To get through this, both parties will need to refocus on a common goal, where both sides come out on top. “In other words, a form of compromise that’s not necessarily consensual or, above all, aggressive. There’s no point in trying to assert one’s point of view at all costs, to the detriment of the other. It’s best to be assertive, i.e. express your opinion without interfering with the other person’s. “Generally speaking, opening up a question reduces emotional pressure. This reopens the door to dialogue. Then, from negotiation to negotiation, we manage to build together a third scenario, more oriented towards finding solutions,” continues the psychologist.

La Compagnie des Déboucheurs also organizes such meetings, where franchisees can give their opinions to the head of the network. Firstly, at the national seminar. It’s an opportunity to take stock of the year and ask our partners what points they’d like to see addressed,” confirms Régis Aubry. Sometimes sensitive subjects are raised. This allows us to work on them, to get a reaction and to pull the rug out from under issues that might otherwise have arisen.”

Another key event is the regional meetings. The network is then divided into four: exchanges take place in smaller groups, creating more opportunities for discussion and informal exchanges. “The more we encourage this type of exchange, the more we’ll be able to create proximity. The more we encourage this type of exchange, the closer we’ll be able to get. The aim? Avoid any risk of mistrust. Franchisees need to know they can talk to their network head. She remains accessible and attentive to his needs, even in the event of disagreement.

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