Let’s face it…any team will conflict from time to time. Whether it’s because of differences in personalities, lifestyles, opinions or some other factor, sometimes people just don’t mesh. And when there’s conflict in the workplace, it affects everybody. The tension not only makes the office environment uncomfortable – it can also negatively impact productivity.
But the good news is that, when handled constructively, employee conflict can lead to healthy competition, process improvements, innovation and enhanced creativity.
Here are some tips to help you tactfully turn conflict into collaboration:
- Be a role model: Team members look at the example given by their leader. A blaming, prima donna leader promotes individualistic behavior. A leader acting as true team player will inspire the team members to do the same.
- Show individual appreciation: People who feel insufficiently recognized risk developing a grudge against the team leader and against the whole team. Especially if they consider others get preferential treatment. Frequent and sincere compliments are inspirational AND promote team spirit.
- Praise everyone’s contribution: When team members have different styles (which is a good thing!), they might disapprove of each other. As a leader, you can show how having different styles adds value to the team.
- Create ‘team wins’: When everything goes bad, individual differences become a concern. They are seen as the reason success is not present. But when a team produces results, those differences are not so problematic anymore, and appreciating each other comes so much more naturally. So give opportunities to the team to have small and big successes.
- Handle conflicts: Don’t ignore conflict. Be courageous and align those stars.
- Understand the nature of the conflict: Don’t assume anything. Instead, figure out what’s fueling the disagreement.
- Empower team members to work it out themselves: As a leader, you want your team to be as self-sufficient as possible. After all, you’re their supervisor or manager – not their mother. Reacting to every worker complaint may actually heighten the drama and make the situation worse. Doing so could even cause some employees to think you’re playing favorites. Provide guidance or talking points, if needed, to help folks approach the other person in a positive manner. Don’t set the expectation that you’ll fix the problem for them. You can facilitate the discussion, but that’s where you should draw the line.
- Keep the focus on behavior and problems rather than people.
- Nip it in the bud quickly
- Teach your team how to communicate: For some, talking out a situation isn’t enough. Typically, people who have these types of problems likely have communication issues already. If there’s a lot of discord among your team, it’s probably time to teach them some basic communication and problem-solving techniques.
- Consider a team building retreat: EPIC Adventures offers half day or full day team building retreats that are custom-designed to address the specific needs of your team. Call us at 1-855-5BE-EPIC for a consultation