My Team is in Conflict - What do I Do?
Assess the Effectiveness of Conflict Resolution in your Team
What is Conflict?
Conflict in the workplace is a fact of life, it is a natural and unavoidable part of any relationship, work or personal. People bring their unique needs, expectations, values, experiences, ambitions, and personalities to the workplace. Other factors that may lead to conflict include scarce resources, different professional approaches, and organisational change.
Conflict is often seen as negative, yet it can lead to great change and improvement. The differences between people can often result in innovative ideas and a more flexible team environment. However, if not managed properly, it can also result in conflict, poor team morale, and poor performance.
It's reasonable to promote the idea of a conflict-free workplace, but the reality is that workplace conflict can lead to great change and improvement. Sometimes the very differences that create conflict can at times provide the spark which energises the team and results in productive benefits such as enhanced creativity, innovation and quality.
Conflict can be considered healthy when it:
- Gets hidden feelings and issues out in the open where they can be dealt with, by both/all parties.
- Moves a relationship out of a rut.
- Develops confidence in a relationship.
- Promotes genuine interaction between people.
Why is Managing Conflict Important?
Besides wasted time, unresolved conflict costs businesses in a number of ways including:
- Bad Decisions; people in conflict rarely value the other person's contribution.
- Lost Employees; very often, excellent people just grow weary of the negative environment.
- Unnecessary Restructuring Costs; sometimes people see the only way out is to change the structure of the teams.
- Sabotage, Theft, Damage; people who are disenfranchised are more likely to take it out on their employer.
- Lowered Employee Motivation; poor interpersonal relationships leads to dissatisfaction and lowered morale.
- Lost Work Time.
- Health and Safety Costs; people experiencing interpersonal conflict are often stressed and exhausted and this is not conducive to a safe working environment.
- Lost Productivity: people preoccupied with conflicts and unmanaged differences of opinion, rarely provide quality customer service or contribute to their full potential.
- Lost Job Opportunities; people who don't seem to get along or who openly challenge each other, will often be viewed as less competent and trustworthy.
The Sloan Business School discovered that 42% of an employee's total workday is spent engaging in or attempting to avoid or negotiate a resolution to a conflict.
How can I Manage Conflict in my Team?
Effective teams are able to select the most appropriate conflict-handling style for the situation. Successful resolution of conflict requires the ability to communicate effectively, as well as to confront issues - not people - focusing on the search for win-win solutions. They manage conflict to avoid the stagnation or apathy that arises from repressed conflict as well as the threat of chaos from unmanaged conflict.
Identify Conflict Resolution Styles
Each individual has a personal way of handling conflict. An important aspect of managing conflict in teamwork is self-awareness regarding each member’s way of handling differences between themselves and others. These styles need to be identified and recognized in how they shape the team’s work. Instruments are available to help identify personal style in conflict situations.
Learn which mode is your primary and when to use it for best results. Discover how to use your less preferred modes for conflict resolution. Test each person in your group to learn how you can all get along better.
What do I do when Conflict Occurs?
- Do not avoid it and just hope that it will go away, bring it into the open, and use it as potential for change.
- Separate the person from the problem in an effort to diffuse the emotional component of the conflict by showing respect, listening carefully, and giving all parties an opportunity to express views.
- Clarify the nature of the problem as seen by both parties. Is this the real problem?
- Deal with one problem at a time, beginning with the easier issues.
- Listen with understanding (interest) rather than evaluation. Use the communication skills of listening, reflecting, and clarifying.
- Attack data, facts, assumptions, and conclusions but not individuals (e.g., “I disagree with your assumptions”).
- Brainstorm about possible solutions.
- Use objective criteria when possible.
- Invent new solutions where both parties gain.
- Implement the plan.
- Evaluate and review the problem-solving process after implementing the plan.
- Identify areas of agreement. Focus on common interests not positions.
How can I Support my Team to Manage Conflict Effectively?
Provide opportunities for your team members to learn which conflict mode is their primary style and when to use it for best results, and to discover how to use their less preferred modes for conflict resolution.
At regular intervals, build in the following processes into your team meetings:
- Review decisions, including review and definition of goals, the direction of the team, and priorities.
- Value and recognise the strengths and differences that each member brings.
- Clarify roles by discussing topics and knowledge base, professional stereotypes, specialisations, autonomy, competencies, responsibilities, and expectations.
- Examine overlapping roles and renegotiate role assignments.
- Assess the effectiveness of group norms or ground rules.
- Recognise professional hierarchies and discuss their impact on team functioning (status and delegation of authority issues are a part of this activity).
Get in Touch with Jump
If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.
The contents of this website are for general informational purposes only, and should not be acted upon without specific advice. Jump Business Solutions does not accept any liability, other than to its clients, and then only in relation to specific requests for advice and consultancy. Site Design & Photography by Wheadon Creative