How To Solve Teamwork Problems And Conflicts And Not To Set The Whole Company On Fire
They say, conflicts enable growth and let creative ideas get to the surface. To some extent, it is true, but conditions apply. There are conflicts, and then there are conflicts. People yell, glasses shatter, chairs fall, and the meeting room is total chaos. The latter is not a productive conflict, it is pure agony when the team is long past the best solution and the only hope is not to let the emotional flame destroy the remaining bits of reason. So when you feel that a team conflict is brewing and things get sour, you need to act fast and decidedly as a leader or manager to help settle it in a civil and positive way.
Signs Of Conflict: How To Detect A Trouble
The good thing is you can spot a conflict long before it goes out of control, but you need to know your people, at least a bit. If you are a good and proactive manager (and we believe you are), then you know it without our reminders. If you cannot tell how character of one employee is different from that of another one, then it’s time to rethink your approach and work focus.
We mention it because the consistent shifts in behavior, attendance, and productivity of your team are direct indices of something that’s wrong before it is even voiced. And so you still have chances of getting past conflict with minimal to no losses.
If usually talkative and outgoing people are sulky, day by day, it spells trouble. If a usually relaxed and friendly team has transformed into lone figures clinging to room corners or their desks or has divided into visible cliques, it is trouble. If civil and reasonable people start making highly emotional, edgy, sly, or even openly rude remarks towards each other, it is time to sit down to the table of negotiations. Frowning, crossed arms, no eye contact, withdrawal, lack of interest are all bad signs.
If the sick day’s rate has spiked, productivity has dropped and, worst of all, people suddenly resign without explanation, it’s probably late, but not obligatory so. You’d better catch the conflict while it sprouts, and treat it in line with our tips. It will guarantee you the best possible outcome – for you, your team, and your company.
How To Settle A Team Conflict Productively
Now that you know something is going on, it is time to take proper and measured steps to fix the situation, so read on to know what to do.
Getting past conflict in a team means setting team communication on a proper path and extinguishing the emotional flames. To do it, you need a safe space where everyone is respected and given the right to speak.
Hence, the first step is to provide such a space. Define rules for communication and define what is acceptable and what is not. Be firm in enforcing the rules for everyone. But while doing it, ask yourself, if you are not being too harsh on people whom you may dislike, and if you are not giving preferences to people whom you like. Avoid bias, in other words.
Listen carefully to everyone who speaks. And every party to a conflict needs to have their say. Sulking or resentful silence means not resolution but the transfer of the conflict to deeper personal levels, where it will do even more harm.
Get the feel of the motivation of everyone. People debate about things that may seem petty because these things often lead to bigger consequences. If people rage about limited resources, it means that they are supposed to demonstrate achievements with insufficient means to do so, or that they were assigned someone else’s tasks. If the debate about giving an important presentation or pitching the project, it means they want a promotion or more powers in their workplace, and so on. Definitely, there are cases when pure politicking takes place, but it is another story. Here we discuss conflicts that can and should be settled – and dysfunctional processes in the workplace get fixed along the way.
When the team conflict and its reasons are exposed, do not attempt to make everyone agree to a single proposition introduced by you or a person you chose. Opposing views need adjustment, fine-tuning and compromising. Ask people to voice their suggestions and give grounds for their position. Most probably, the suggestions will be reasonable and acceptable, but let people cool down and come to an agreement together, naturally. Let them negotiate each step and agree on it. Just keep an eye for overly emotional speech. Agreeing on small common steps without coercion means true understanding and opens possibilities of collaboration.
When the conflict is solved, take steps to eliminate its roots. That is, allocate more resources, give more powers and review how you distribute the tasks. Besides, it is a great opportunity to check what is wrong with communication in your team, and what can be done to improve it. So, in this sense, a conflict is a real opportunity for growth.
Getting Past Conflict And Moving On As A-Team
Okay, the solution is found, the team shook hands and retreated to their workplaces. Is this the end? No, it is not.
Settling the conflict successfully means knowing for sure that solutions are implemented and you get the real feedback from all parties. Otherwise, everyone will continue doing what they did before the negotiations, and you can start all anew.
So, before letting the team go on their business, establish the ways of reporting on the implementation of the solutions found, and set the exact time to deliver this report. It means, then, say, in a week or two, each party provides you a written report from their viewpoint. It should state whether it all worked out and whether all suggested steps were possible to take. With such follow-up from all parties to the conflict, you will know that everything goes well, and the conflict is not brewing anew.
Hope we outlined the most reasonable way to deal with conflicts. If you like to learn this art in detail, get through the professional training (and put your team through it), and never witness a hurricane of emotions rage in your meeting room again.