Leaders know that conflict is a natural and necessary part of any productive team. However, mishandled conflict can quickly spiral out of control and disrupt productivity. Below are some helpful tips for effectively managing conflict within your team.
Establish Clear Guidelines for Handling Conflict
Your team should know how you expect them to handle disagreements and disputes. Set the tone by modeling respectful communication and conflict resolution yourself. Establishing these expectations will help prevent minor disagreements from escalating into major problems.
The guidelines should be specific and cover both the process for handling conflict (e.g., who should be involved, how decisions will be made, etc.) and the behavior expected from team members (e.g., no name-calling, no personal attacks, etc.).
Encourage Open Communication
Effective leaders create an environment where team members feel comfortable communicating. This includes both positive and negative feedback.
Encourage team members to speak up when they have a concern or feel that something is unfair. At the same time, provide avenues for them to give praise and express appreciation for their teammates. When conflict does arise, open communication will help ensure that all parties are heard and that the issue is addressed effectively.
Focus on Problem-Solving
When conflict arises, it is important to focus on solving the problem, not winning or being right. Ask questions and actively listen to understand the other person’s perspective. Once you have a clear understanding of the issue, work together to brainstorm possible solutions.
The goal should be to find an acceptable resolution for all parties involved. This may mean making some compromises, but it will be worth it in the long run if it means preventing further conflict and maintaining a productive team.
Follow Up After Conflict is Resolved
Once a resolution has been reached, it is important to follow up with all parties involved to ensure that the conflict is truly resolved. This may include checking in periodically, setting up a meeting to discuss how things are going, or sending a brief survey. Asking for feedback will show team members that you are committed to resolving conflict productively and effectively.
Conflict is a natural part of any group dynamic, but it doesn’t have to be negative. You can turn conflict into a positive force that strengthens your team and moves them forward by following these tips.