September 20, 2019

7 Ways Leaders Deal with Team Conflict

The ideal work environment is one where everyone gets along and work together for the good of the company. Unfortunately, such a work environment is rare. This is because conflict among employees in the workplace is pretty much inevitable.

It’s no secret that different people have different viewpoints or ways of looking at things. Often, these differences can escalate to conflict if there’s no ‘intermediary’ providing a balanced view of things. In a workplace, that intermediary has to be the manager or the person leading the team/organization.

If you happen to be an organizational or team leader, then it is your responsibility to manage differences in opinion between your employees/team members so that it does not escalate to the level of a damaging conflict. How can you do this? let’s find out.

Resolving Conflict Among Team Members: How to Go About It

Since the workforce is made of people with varying backgrounds and educational qualifications, conflict in the workplace is bound to happen. However, not all conflict is bad. Some of it is actually healthy. This conflict involves a healthy debate and often leads to a solution for an underlying problem.

In projects, opposing viewpoints and different personalities can bring new thoughts and ideas to the discussion table, which can lead to solutions never imagined before. However, if the difference in personalities and opposing viewpoints erupt into resentment or outburst, then this can have a negative impact on not just the work on the project and work environment, but also on the company’s bottom line.

If conflict among employees gets out of hand, then this can affect the accomplishment of team and company tasks and goals. This is where a leader needs to step on to resolve conflict and prevent it from boiling over. Conflict resolution is easier said than done. This is because it requires a lot of patience and calm. Additionally, you will need to replace the negative thoughts of your team members with positive ones. While this is a tough task, it can be achieved. Following is how:

1.     Acknowledge the Conflict

Of course, the first step in conflict resolution is acknowledging the conflict. You may avoid hurting someone’s feelings in the short run by ignoring a conflict. However, this will come back to bite you in the future since the parties involved are likely to work together again on future projects.

If you continue to ignore the conflict, then it may boil over into an abusive argument or even a nasty ‘fistfight’. Surely, you don’t want that to happen? Of course, you don’t! So, do the sensible thing and face the conflict head-on. Ask your team members to sit down and discuss every course of action they have in mind for the project. This will allow the disagreeing parties to know what the ‘other’ person is thinking and their reasoning for it. This healthy discussion will help you to avoid a serious and violent conflict. The lesson in this is that you need to manage conflict by encouraging team members to behave in a civil and respectful manner. This will only happen if you acknowledge the conflict and don’t ignore the issue.

2.     Discuss the Impact

As a team leader, you need to sit with your team members and convey to them how the conflict is likely to affect their own performance as well as that of the team.

3.     Get Everyone to Agree to Cooperate

To resolve the conflict, you need to get everyone to agree to cooperate. This means asking your team members to put the good of the team ahead of their own personal ideas or opinions. You will find yourself at a stalemate if everyone in your team prefers acceptance of their ideas or thoughts over conflict resolution.

4.     Get Everyone to Agree to Communicate

When it comes to resolving conflicts, one of the most important things to do is ensuring that everyone involved in the conflict continues to communicate. Conflicting parties not talking to each other will only lead to the conflict gaining strength and boiling over. Therefore, it is critical that the people involved in the conflict talk to each other and communicate their feelings. People can move on from conflict only if they understand what the other person is coming from.

5.     Clarify Positions

Get all the people involved in the conflict together in a place and then allow each person to have their say on the conflict/issue. Make sure that when one person is speaking, there is no disturbance or interruption from other people present in the room. Get everyone in the room to pay careful attention to the speaker and encourage them to ask questions before jumping to any conclusion.

You will eliminate miscommunication between the conflicting team members by allowing each person involved in the conflict to clarify their position and have their say. Additionally, this will give each team member the opportunity to explain the logic behind their ideas or opinions which may make their ideas or opinions more acceptable to the disagreeing team members.

6.     Come up with a List of Facts and Assumptions Based on Each Position

You need to find out what each team member believes in and values. You also need to determine the basis of their beliefs. Lastly, try to understand the criteria and processes each team member employs to make decisions. This will allow to better understand the position of each person involved in the conflict which in turn will aid conflict resolution.

7.     Reach Agreement and Resolve Conflict

Once the position of each person in the conflict is clear, it will be time for you to decide a course of action to get your team members to reach an agreement and resolve the conflict. This is easier when you have considered all the facts and assumptions related to the conflict.

These are the steps you need to follow to resolve conflict among your employees or team members. Conflict resolution is important because it can be the difference between the success and failure of your team and organization.

by Bobby J Davidson

We love our company and we love what we do.  Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business!  As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.

The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management.  We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services.   We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business.