How do you resolve conflict between colleagues at work? In this two- and a half-minute video, Rosie Brown talks about how COOK has implemented a model for relationships at work, and how this has helped teams to work together better.

Speaking at the 2017 Happy Workplaces CEO Conference, Rosie explained that there were issues between COOK’s Commercial team and the Kitchen team. They turned to the company’s Venn diagram of Unity, Clarity and Accountability, and Appreciation to work out what was causing this breakdown.

“When relationships aren’t going well at work, either in between people or teams, we look to these three things,” explains Rosie.

“In that instance there wasn’t unity, because the Kitchen team were focused on margin and the Commercial team were focused on brilliant product for the customer. It was only when we restructured it and made everybody aware of both of those KPIs that we sorted it out, and finally had unity.”

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Full transcript

Internally we use a tool to help us and our managers with relationships. It’s a model for relationships at work. It’s a Venn diagram where the three circles are Unity, Clarity and Accountability, and Appreciation. It’s brilliant, we use it all the time, it works, I promise! When relationships aren’t going well at work, either in between people or teams, we look to these three things:

  1. Is there unity? Is everyone trying to agree the same thing? Is there a shared goal, a united vision, are people united in what we’re trying to achieve?
  2. Is there clarity and accountability? Are we really clear on what you’re doing, are you clear on what I’m doing, are we stepping on each other’s toes, are there grey areas, or are we really clear about all of that?
  3. Is there appreciation? Am I saying thank you, am I connecting with you, do I care about what you’re getting up to, and do I appreciate that you might have a different viewpoint to me?

Those are the three things we use. Whenever something is going wrong, I promise it is because, in our experience, one of these three things is out.

I’m going to give you a little example. We have two teams that work incredibly closely to bring a product into our shops. One is the Commercial team – they design the recipes, they know what will sell, they price it. The next is our Kitchen team who then have to turn this concept into mass-production and make it work with the quality the same. We were really struggling with getting these teams to work well together. We were thinking, ‘they really appreciate each other, they really like each other, there’s no problems there, the relationships are good. Clarity and accountability, everyone knows what everyone’s doing’.

In that instance there wasn’t unity, because the Kitchen team were focused on margin and the Commercial team were focused on brilliant product for the customer. It was only when we restructured it and made everybody aware of both of those KPIs that we sorted it out, and finally had unity. We really dug down to find out what was going on.

I want you to think of a relationship at work that isn’t perhaps going as well as you’d like, and have a moment to reflect whether perhaps there’s one of these things missing that is causing it to go off track?

About Rosie

Rosie BrownRosie Brown started her career in London, and it didn’t take long to work out that politics and investment banking weren’t going to be part of the long term plan. In 2000, she joined COOK (then three years old, and co-founded by her brother Edward) working in most departments and having three sons along the way. Rosie became People Director in 2012. In 2016 Rosie took on the role of Managing Director.

COOK manufactures remarkable frozen food in our own Kitchens (made like you would at home) and sells it nationally in 86 retail stores and online. COOK are proud to be a founding UK BCorporation (people using business as a force for good) and have been voted as one of the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For, for the last 5 years (and the highest placed manufacturer). In 2015 COOK won the Sunday Times Wellbeing award for our work on relationships, and in 2016 and 2017 won the award for Developing Potential. In addition, COOK’s ‘Dream Academy’ was voted in a Times list of Top 10 company benefits.

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