People have different viewpoints, that is just the human way. When people are working together day in and day out, those differences are bound to escalate to conflict. How the conflict is then handled will either help the team for the better or further create a divide. In order for your team to grow from conflict, you need to employ the right strategies.
Here are six tips for handling conflict among your team members
Let people share their issue with you
When an employee is very upset, they may feel the need to let you know about it. This is one of the main principles of mediation and it is important to remember it in these situations. This may seem like it could get people more heated and increase the level of conflict but that is the only way to find the solution.
Allow team members to deal with their conflict on their own
When team members are experiencing conflict with one another, it may seem like jumping in is the right thing to do. As good as your intentions may be, it could wind up escalating with your involvement. You want to encourage them to handle their conflict on their own and in a neutral location. This could be to step outside or go into a conference room as opposed to hashing it out at a cubicle.
Team members each carry their own responsibilities and it is important that each person knows the status of what each team member is working on. For this reason, having a team progress tracking software in place is very helpful with easing opportunities for conflict. With daily status updates everyone on the team will know what has been done, what is getting done and what will not be completed and why. In order for your team to be productive and run effectively, it is essential to have a software like this in place.
Know when it is time to jump in
If you see the conflict is not being resolved, it may be time for you to intervene. You can offer yourself as a mediator and sounding board. Each person gets the opportunity to share their concerns and everyone can feel heard. This will help forge a more cooperative spirit between both people.
Set ground rules
Most companies will typically have a code of conduct clause in their company policy but some may not. Whether your company has one or not, you may need to put together a set of guidelines for your team. Many times you can hear employees using unkind language with each other. In order to make it clear that that type of behavior is against company policy, you can create a list with bullet points that highlight the communication standards you expect. Here are a few examples:
- Always treat each other with honest and respect
- Use ‘I’ statements
- Be direct and concise
- Stick to the issue at hand
You may have your favorites at work but it is key that you don’t take sides in any conflict. You have to remain neutral. Make sure that you give each team member time to speak their opinions and feel heard.
If you notice tension among your team, suggest that they take some time for a break. They can take a short walk outside which helps greatly for calming down an upset employee. Try and be as proactive as possible in creating positive interactions for your employees. This could be planning team building activities or coming up with group traditions.
A tradition can be something like celebrating any goals that the team has met with a group lunch. This will help foster a stronger feeling of connectedness among the team. When people feel more connected to one another, a sense of respect for each other as individuals follows. This tends to lend itself to more positive interactions back at work.
Conflict is universal in the work environment. Whether you work for a fortune 500 or a small business, different personalities always lends itself to potential conflict. As a team leader, it is your job to effectively navigate these conflicts without bias and with the right strategies. The above tips will help you better manage conflict among your team which will help foster a more positive working environment for everyone.