Case Study: No More Cookies for You!

Jonas and Lucie, your two top sales reps, sent you a meeting invite with the subject line: Global Client Allocation Emergency. Need You to Resolve!


Your first thought is, “Here we go again! I need to resolve another global client allocation issue between these two. Why can’t they just follow the territory guidelines and ‘play nice.’ Every time there’s an issue, I need to jump in, call a meeting with my peers, and decide who gets the credit. We end each meeting with a plan, but they always return with the same issue packaged differently. I’m exhausted by this process!”

Then you have an alternative thought: “What if I stop resolving conflict for them (baking cookies) and instead coach them to resolve the allocation issue themselves—permanently? Oh, the time and headaches I would save!”

Remembering the conflict resolution training you recently attended:

“Most conflicts are rooted in unclear expectations. No matter what the persons enmeshed in the conflict believe, most conflict level intensities are low (a simple difference in opinion, misunderstanding, or disagreement, versus serious discord or polarization).”


That said, the recurring conflict between Jonas and Lucie might be rooted in unclear expectations. It is not the intense issue they perceive it to be.

With that understanding, you decided to tackle the issue.

First on the agenda: Clarify or correct any confusion or misunderstanding regarding the territory allocations.

Second on the agenda: Apply the open-ended questions for helping others resolve conflict, and the GROW coaching model to coach Jonas and Lucie to resolve their global allocation issues once and for all.


  • GOAL: What open-ended questions would help them establish a common goal for the coaching session?
  • REALITY: What open-ended questions allow each side to describe their reality (interpretation of what is happening)?
  • OPPORTUNITIES/OBSTACLES: What open-ended questions uncover opportunities (or obstacles) to permanently resolve the issue?
  • WAY FORWARD: What open-ended questions would you ask to encourage immediate action and follow-through?

What upfront agreements could you help them design, so they don’t come back to you to help resolve this issue in the future (no more cookies for you)?