“I Have A Conflict” and How to Resolve It

Written by: Bernard Ellis, CHTP, CRME — Official HFTP 2019 Annual Convention Guest Blogger

What I have always loved about the expression “I have a conflict” is that people may want to give the impression that if only they did not have said conflict, they would much rather be doing what you are asking them to do — but you will never know the truth.

If you are attending the HFTP Annual Convention, you have probably been fending off meeting requests right and left for this week because “you have a conflict.” As we get ready to make our way to Orlando, now is about the time when many of us start to feel conflicted. Most of the money has already been spent — Can I really take the time to “sharpen the ax” when so much work is sitting in front of me?

Was this a good idea? What are the benefits again? What are the repercussions? Our occupation is full of inherent conflicts, as is life in general — and the happiest and most successful among us seem to be those who anticipate them and are not blindsided by other points of view. I wrote in my introduction about how the partnership between IT and finance can turn to conflict if people wait too long to engage, and that attending “each other’s” sessions is a way to prevent that.

The budgeting process is another example of a session that should have mass appeal. These sessions often focus on things not to underestimate or overlook in the budget. It can give a new department head the impression that an exhaustive (and defensible) budget will win every time.

But, not so — The pie is not infinitely large. The traditional budget is an even-sum game where anything you get is someone else’s loss, and knowing when and how that type of “horse trading” occurs in your organization is often what determines the winners and losers. The newbie may be trying to avoid conflict and not realize they should actually be looking for it.

A lot of the planned educational sessions are even more overt in their mission to address conflict. For example, “Differences Not Deficiencies” will cover how to leverage different personality styles. It will surely discuss healthy personality conflicts that can result in complementing each other and providing checks and balances for the business, versus the unhealthy ones which just make both parties mad.

Sessions on cybersecurity, data protection and PCI will take on the serious conflict our businesses have with the criminals who seek to exploit our data. It will also address the uncomfortable conflict we have with our guests and loyalty club members whose data we have historically considered a key marketing asset, but whose value continues to be reduced with every new privacy regulation.

Other sessions will promote partnership (not conflict) “as the new leadership” and address potential conflicts between the generations. On the latter, as a Gen Xer, I am always interested to see what mention (if any) is made of us. At times it can seem like the “millennials versus baby boomers” battle gets all the attention, while we Gen Xers quietly keep all the trains running on time. I keep trying to warn people that we will have our revenge in the end: We are quietly infiltrating your Homeowners’ Association boards — and once we retire and have the time, well, you’ll be paying attention to us then! (Hee hee hee.)

A session that is back in the column of conflicts that might not be so overt is on “Internal Controls.” Yes, the principle of division of duties and the other usual suspects remain key, but they also introduce a conflict which needs more  coverage: the ever-growing role of software design in internal controls.

The demand is for software that is “fast and easy to use,” which vendors introduce with pride and properties install with anticipation. Joy ensues — that is, until the first month-end process. Then the urgent enhancement requests come in from the financial types looking for more granular user rights, the marketing types wanting more fields — and more of them needing to be mandatory.

Reports need to be more locked down. Interfaces need to have more verification logic. Fulfilling these requests then makes the requestors very happy. But, in no way and on no day can you say the software is still fast and easy to use. Instead, it is now ground zero for organizational conflict.

This is starting to sound so unpleasant — but again, it can be a lot less so if you anticipate the other points of view and address them in advance when cooler heads can prevail.

Much of the educational agenda at the HFTP 2019 Annual Convention is designed to help you do exactly that. Hopefully, as you pack your bags, you now feel less conflicted.

Bernard Ellis, CHTP, CRME is president of Lodgital Insights LLC and the official event guest blogger for the HFTP 2019 Annual Convention, taking place October 23–25 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida USA.
Check back on HFTP Connect for more of Ellis’s insights and experiences at the event.

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