Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone on your team got along all of the time? Unfortunately, that’s not reality. When you bring people with diverse perspectives together (which is an overall positive thing), conflict is inevitable.
Differences of opinion and personality clashes can quickly escalate, disrupting productivity and eroding morale. That means you need to restore harmony fast to minimize the damage. To help you do that, we’ll share nine tips to manage conflict on your team.
When conflict arises, you need to address it immediately. Don’t let the problem fester because it will deepen and become harder to resolve if you do. So, call out problem behavior when you see it (in a private conversation, of course) and encourage your employees to remain calm even if they feel triggered.
If you manage each challenge informally in the moment, you may be able to avoid going through a longer, more complex resolution process later. But, if a simple redirection cue or coaching conversation doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to take further action.
When you need to work through conflict in a formal manner, start by meeting with each person involved one-on-one. Let them share their side of the story and ask each party a similar set of questions. Remember, your job here is to remain neutral, gather the facts of the situation, and identify the root cause of the problem.
Once you’ve spoken with each team member, bring them together for a group discussion. Since tensions are high, you need to step in and moderate the conversation. At the start of the meeting, set a clear goal of resolving the conflict respectfully and professionally so that everyone can move forward.
Then, help your employees find common ground. Remind them that they’ve worked together successfully in the past and that they need each other to fulfill the company’s mission.
Give each team member the floor to speak, and encourage patience and open-mindedness from listeners. Once everyone has had the opportunity to share their perspective, kick off a brainstorming session, and solicit potential resolutions to the conflict. Write down everything your employees say, reserving judgment or commentary for later.
After compiling several potential solutions, help your team members achieve consensus on the best option. You can whittle down the list before any back-and-forth dialogue occurs by explaining which choices wouldn’t work and why. For example, your company may not have the budget to implement a particular solution.
Then, jot down the pros and cons of the remaining alternatives to illustrate their strengths and weaknesses. You could even develop a ranking system to highlight the best choice. If there are more than two people involved in the conflict, you could have each party vote for one of the two final options — naming the solution with the most votes the winner.
Ultimately, you have to make the final call on what’s best for your team — and the entire firm. But, your employees are more likely to buy into the solution if they choose it or have a say in the decision-making process.
Once the team comes to a decision, you need to document the plan. Capture key details in writing, such as:
After the document is complete, ask for each employee’s commitment and have them sign it.
As the leader, you must hold your team members (and yourself!) accountable to the agreed-upon responsibilities outlined in the plan. Reference the document you created frequently and check in with your employees at the established intervals. If they struggle to complete a task or experience lingering negative emotions post-meeting, offer your support during one-on-one coaching sessions.
Despite your best effort, things could get heated during your team meeting to address the conflict. These hostile exchanges will only worsen the problem and may cause an unclosable divide between your team members. So, if you feel the tension rising, adjourn the meeting temporarily to let your employees cool off and regain their composure. Just remember: regroup at the agreed-upon time. Don’t let the issue remain tabled because it won't resolve itself.
You can handle most of the conflict on your team without asking for outside help. However, if you run into a dangerous issue like harassment, bullying, discrimination, or workplace violence, you should immediately contact your human resources (HR) department. Chances are they will need to involve the legal department, too. Your HR team can also provide guidance if a less urgent employee disagreement persists after you’ve worked the conflict resolution steps.
While you can’t completely prevent conflict on your team, you can take steps to reduce how often (and how severely) it occurs. Encourage your employees to be mindful of their body language, keep their speech at a normal speaking volume, and watch their tone of voice. That way, they’ll be less likely to trigger a negative response from their coworkers. You could also offer regular training to boost emotional intelligence, improve communication skills, and increase acceptance of diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
Leading a team is no easy feat, and your role becomes even more difficult when you throw employee conflict into the mix. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Managing conflict becomes much easier when you truly know the people involved. You can unlock that necessary insight by having each employee take our quick and painless behavioral assessment — before tensions rise. This assessment dives deep into their personality, communication style, and professional preferences.
Armed with this information, you can facilitate more productive (and calmer!) conversations. That way, your team members can put their hard feelings behind them and get back to business.
While conflict is an expected part of the human experience, you want to mitigate it as soon as possible. Left unchecked, it can destroy a team and set your company back. Hopefully, these tips help you address employee disagreements fast so your organization can continue to thrive.
P.S. Don’t forget —Try a complimentary behavioral assessment today, and see how the results can help you lead your team!
People are complicated, and no two of your employees are exactly alike. When you have that many different perspectives in your workplace, conflict is bound to happen. While conflict can sometimes lead to healthy competition and innovation, left unchecked or undirected, it can have damaging effects on the organization. As a leader, the responsibility to resolve these issues often falls on you. We’ll provide some practical guidance for how to do so effectively.
Conflict resolution is the art of diffusing tension between parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Put simply, it’s helping your employees get along. Leaders need to know how to handle conflict in the workplace. One study found that 85% of employees deal with conflict in their working lives, and it costs U.S. companies an estimated $359 billion annually (csp.edu).
Even though your plate is full, it’s important to address problems quickly and fairly. If you don’t, a situation could escalate and result in lost productivity, poor team morale, a lack of faith in your leadership abilities, and more.
In a word, very. CPP found that 85% of both individual contributors and leaders agreed they experienced some amount of inevitable conflict at work. In addition, 29% of all employees said that they experienced almost constant conflict. Tellingly, 12% said they also saw conflict frequently among leaders (cppglobal.com).
Is conflict always negative? No.
By any definition, negative examples of conflict in the workplace include:
But notice that healthy, positive conflict can include:
While you’re ultimately responsible for the harmony and productivity within your team, you don’t have to spring to action as soon as your employees disagree. Instead, encourage workers to find common ground on their own. That way, you can focus on more urgent matters, and your team members can hone their conflict resolution skills.
It may be helpful to know that “it's estimated that as many as 90 percent of all conflicts result from misunderstandings (coparenter.com).” That goes for work and personal relationships. By communicating new policies about conflict and modeling good behavior, prohibiting all forms of harassments and disrespect, and bad treatment based on differences, you can be ahead of the curve.
However, if your staff can’t get past their differences and work together civilly, then you’ll need to play the role of mediator. You should also get involved immediately if you become aware of harassment, theft, violence, substance abuse, or illegal activity. In these instances, you must act quickly to prevent harm to employees and the company.
Pro Tip: Have, adhere to, and enforce a company-wide conflict resolution policy. That way, it’s clear what needs to happen in a given situation.
When you need to intervene in an employee conflict, follow these best practices:
Once team members have reached a consensus, follow up periodically to see if the solution is working and if the employees are getting along.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to deal with another employee conflict? Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic goal. However, you can reduce the number of incidents that come your way with some prevention tips:
When you have a strong sense of self-awareness and know your team members well, preventing and resolving conflict becomes much easier. You’ll know exactly how to approach specific circumstances and people. Acquiring this deep knowledge can take years of observation and interactions.
But there is a faster way - taking and administering a behavioral assessment. Omnia’s well-regarded assessment has a track record of success. It’s fun and easy to take, and when you get the results, you’ll instantly know more about yourself and your employees. With this insight, you’ll be well on your way to a more pleasant work environment.
Unchecked conflict can wreak havoc on team morale and company achievement, so you need to act fast when the situation calls for it. By exercising good judgment and flexing your mediator muscles, you can restore harmony and productivity in no time. If you’d like to learn more about how behavioral assessments can help you keep the peace, contact us today!
Have an article-specific question or want to continue the conversation? Now you can! Contact the author directly through the short form below and Tonya DeVane will respond to your query. If you have a more general question please use our chat function, call 800.525.7117, or visit our contact us page and we'll have a subject matter expert answer your questions.
Camp Omnia is our little way of paying homage to summer rituals while we continue adulting. In this week’s blog, and as part of our Camp Omnia series, we’re going to earn our Positive Team Dynamics badge.
Even if they are working from home, completing most of their activities independently, your employees don’t generally work in total isolation. They make contributions for the greater good of the company and participate in a variety of cross-functional teams. The effectiveness of those teams ultimately determines the success of the organization. The Team Leader is responsible for managing the team’s dynamics to create and sustain a high-performing team that thrives in a positive, productive climate.
Before we get into the strategy of team dynamics, let’s pinpoint what the term means. Team dynamics are the emotions and energies that flow between team members. Put simply, they’re an indication of how well the team gets along and performs together.
People are the heartbeat of an organization, and how they perform in teams determines whether the rhythm is strong or erratic. If negative team dynamics plague your group, your employees could spend more time arguing and finger-pointing than getting things done. Morale will be low, turnover will be high, and productivity (and profits) will take a nosedive.
On the other hand, if your group exhibits positive team dynamics, your employees will be mission-focused and collaborative. They’ll understand one another, accept each other (at least enough to get the job done), and work well together. Morale will be much higher, turnover will be much lower, and productivity will be poised to reach new heights.
Team diversity is a powerful asset, but you must know how to guide members to function as a cohesive unit, each one playing a pivotal role and contributing their unique talents. So, how do you develop and foster positive team dynamics at your company? It starts with building a solid group from the get-go.
If you hire the right people for each position who align to the kind of company culture you want to cultivate, it will be much easier to get employees to gel. Each team member will be set up to succeed, which reduces stress and conflict. Plus, everyone will be on board with the firm’s mission, vision, and values, which should mean smoother interactions and better collaboration.
Once your dream team is in place, you need to fully utilize each member’s strengths, understand what motivates them, and learn how they like to be recognized. As a leader, you must be adaptable because no two employees are the same. Some will need regular supervision, public recognition, and monetary rewards to stay on track. Others will prefer autonomy, private praise, and other perks to remain satisfied. If each member is content, the group is more likely to have a positive team dynamic.
In addition to meeting your team’s needs, it’s your responsibility to guide them to achievement. Involve each member in the goal-setting process - both for their own professional development and department and company-wide objectives. Doing so will increase engagement and a sense of ownership of the work, strengthening the team’s focus on hitting their targets.
And key tip here: The best goals follow the guideline of being SMART goals. They’re specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Whenever two or more people are gathered, differences of opinion are likely to ensue at some point. Despite your best efforts to help team members understand one another, put their differences aside, and work in harmony, conflicts will arise. Conflict is a natural part of work (and life), and if managed properly, can result in growth. Without different thoughts and approaches, innovation can’t thrive. However, if left to fester, conflict can destroy your team and derail progress. To resolve these issues within your group, follow these best practices:
Stay calm and help your employees stay on an even keel, too. Conflict can cause intense emotions that get in the way of productive conversations.
Remember, your role is to facilitate the mediation process. Your team members need to actually implement the resolution and follow through with it over time. Minimize your involvement in getting directly involved where possible. Your team won’t thrive if everyone comes to you to handle the complaints or solve the problem. If needed, develop your team with skills on giving feedback in a productive way that leads to improved communication and conflict resolution.
Let’s review a little. Fostering positive team dynamics starts with the individual team members. Start by hiring the right people and knowing how to motivate, manage, and recognize them. Gauging a potential employee’s strengths from an interview or understanding how to lead each worker from observation can be very challenging. Omnia can help.
Have an article specific question or want to continue the conversation? Now you can! Contact the author directly through the short form below and Keather Snyder will respond to your query. If you have a more general question please use our chat function, call 800.525.7117, or visit our contact us page and we'll have a subject matter expert answer your questions.