Dealing with Team Conflict.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Photo: Lorianne DiSabato)

That’s it! I’ve had it! I can’t take it any more! I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!


It’s impossible to avoid conflict when you have a team of people collaborating on a project. Typically this is caused when one person challenges the ideas, choices or actions of another. When people work together they must learn how to resolve disagreements if they want to be successful in their vision.

The first golden rule is to stick to what you really know – that is your own reaction to the behavior in question, and not your interpretation of the other person’s motives or character.

Let’s start first with what causes conflict. Conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons, some common causes are:

(Image: mitopencourseware)

What are some other common causes you have encountered?

If we do not recognize these situations promptly they will escalate and before long lead to:

What other issues could arise?

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved” – Charles F. Kettering

So what do we have to do to resolve the situation?

  • First, everyone must be calm before you can begin to settle a conflict so allow them ample time to cool off.
  • Privately gather each individual’s interpretations for the cause of events.
  • Discuss the problem with the group and make certain all parties are speaking of the same issue.
  • In order to get to the core of the problem each person should attempt to clearly identifying their issues.
  • People like to feel a part of the solution so in the next step you will need to help them refocus on the resolution rather than the problem. Doing this allows them ownership in the outcome.
  • Outline a plan letting everyone know the progress and the resolution.

“Squint with your ears.”

As a mediator you will need to:

  • Keep the group focused on resolving the conflict.
  • Be respectful of all involved and demand respect as the intermediary.
  • Assist in lessening personal grievances and preclude defensive behaviors.
  • When challenged, and you will be, remain calm and refocus the group on the resolution process.
  • Don’t get irritated and don’t apologize; doing so will only deteriorate your position as the leader.
  • Do not conclude without a resolution in place the group can agree upon.
  • Finally, the leader must insist each member of the group implements their part in the resolution as determined by the group.

Let’s face it, dealing with conflict is never easy but it is necessary and cannot be avoided. To gain the trust, respect and admiration of your team you must address it head on in a calm, focused and professional manner. As you work through these situations you will continue to grow as a confident and capable leader.

Remote Note:

In a remote situation you will have to work hard to achieve accurate communication as you do not have the ability to dialog  in person with your colleagues. This type of circumstance leads to difficultly gauging tone without seeing physical expression. In order to overcome this challenge you need to be sure to clearly state your thoughts and thoroughly communicate your objectives. The more closely you work with people the more accustomed they will be to your interactions thereby assisting in precise communication.

Tell us about some of your conflict resolution stories.

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