Dealing with Conflict
Successful managers can effectively manage conflict just by analyzing the early symptoms of team conflicts. This ability is considered a core competency and is required for managers who want to grow and advance. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult skills a manager can develop.
Kindly list individually the symptoms of team conflict that you have ever experienced in your team. Combine your list with your group to come up with a consolidated list of symptoms.
Team Conflict Symptoms
- Not completing work on-time or completed work does not measure up to quality goals
- Office/team Gossip & drama
- Not returning phone calls or e-mails
- Aggressive behavior
- Disagreements, regardless of issue
- Lack of clear goals
- Desire for power
- Failure to keep timelines
- Absenteeism and tardiness
- Not responding to requests for information
- Hostility towards the team members
- Hoarding information that should be shared
- Complaining about things
- Finger pointing and blaming
- Verbal abuse of others in team
- Filing grievances or lawsuits
- Physical violence
Each behavior, by itself, does not necessarily indicate conflict. People don’t always complete work on time or answer all phone calls. Sometimes they miss meetings or deadlines. These individual behaviors might be acceptable—unless a behavior is taken to an extreme and causes severe or irreparable damage.
We can see multiple symptoms of team conflict in one case. Sometimes or mostly situation will not resolve itself and so requires intervention before serious damage occurs to the teams and projects.
The best way to identify the symptoms of team conflict is to be aware of the kinds of behaviors that lead to conflict. When we identify extreme behaviors or multiple symptoms, we know we need to investigate.
Causes of Team Conflict
Conflict occurs because of an inability to address needs or goals, or because goals are unclear, unacceptable, unrealistic, or are in opposition to the parties involved. Together, we could create a long list of things that cause team conflict.
Kindly list some of the common causes of team conflict that you have experienced in your teams:
- Poor or no communication
- Lack of problem-solving skills
- Lack of clarity in purpose, goals, objectives,
- Lack of team and individual roles
- Lack of resources and sources for help and support
- Poor or lack of time management
- Lack of leadership and management
- Team members not challenged, not interested
- Lack of skills and abilities in team members
- Personal problems
- Differing objectives, Etc.
Some of these can be seen as both cause and result of conflict
Simple Conflict Resolution Process
Below is an example of a simple conflict resolution process.
Step 1: The first step is for individuals to try to resolve the conflict with each other.
- This will help everyone to sort out their thoughts and feelings before the one-on-one.
- Being able to resolve conflict with each other helps individuals to learn how to confront each other, clearly state the issue, listen to each other, and work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.
- The benefit is that individuals learn a highly critical skill for now and the future and become more valuable team members.
Step 2: If the two individuals are not successful with a one-on-one meeting, we will need to intercede.
- We will be met with each person, then
- We would bring the two people together with clear goals and an expected outcome.
- There should be rules or guidelines as to how the meeting will be conducted and how they are expected to behave.
Step 3; If Step 2 doesn’t work, the next step is to involve Human Resources.
These tools and skills may also be helpful and may be used as part of Rules of Engagement (ROE):
- Attack the problem, not the person
- Focus on what can be done, not on what can’t be done (positive thinking)
- Encourage different points of view and honest dialogue
- Express feelings in a way that does not blame
- Accept ownership appropriately for all or part of the problem
- Listen to understand the other person’s point of view before giving your own
- Show respect for the other person’s point of view
- Solve the problem while building the relationship
When conflict arises during a team meeting, it is important to address it as soon as possible.