Dealing with Team Conflicts: What To Do and What Not to Do

May 18, 2011

Team conflicts in business can be very challenging if you are in a project management position. If not handled properly, conflicts can escalate into all sorts of further problems. If handled well however, conflict resolution can bring about new ideas and improve relationships between team members.

Conflicts can arise for certain reasons. Some common sources of team conflicts are disagreements over the project priorities, scheduling disagreements and goals that are not agreed upon.

What NOT To Do

If your conflict handling skills are poor then the conflicts can escalate into several problems, including communication problems, more mistakes, poor productivity, low morale and increased turnover.

When a conflict arises, your initial focus should be on finding a solution, rather than trying to find someone to blame. Pointing fingers at people is less than helpful and will just build up more negativity and tension within the team.

Avoidance and defensiveness are two other things you should avoid being guilty of. Running away from the conflict and hoping it will sort itself out will get you nowhere. Also, attempting to justify your actions rather than hearing what your associates have to say will have nothing but negative effects.

What To Do

The first thing you should do is listen to what the aggravated parties have to say. Make sure you are calm and not emotionally involved, and try to really sense how the people involved are feeling. This is the first stage in successful conflict resolution.

Make sure that everyone involved has been acknowledged. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they are saying, make sure everybody knows that you are aware of their feelings and that you are working towards a solution that is beneficial for everybody involved.

Once you’ve listened and acknowledged everyone’s positions, you’re ready to respond. Make sure you give constructive feedback to the people that you do not agree with. If possible, highlight the positives in their approach but give some calculated and insightful reasons why you disagree.

As the mediator, remember to keep your group focused on resolving the conflict at hand. You must remain calm and insist that all member of the group implement their individual parts of the resolution.

Conflict resolution is an important part of keeping up the morale of your workforce. Ensure that no-ones voices go unheard, and everyone’s feelings are acknowledged and responded to. It is this kind of dedicated approach to team members that will guarantee the successful union of the workforce.

Use your influence to persuade others to your way of thinking, not to get your way, but to provide the basis for your team to grow. If there is a disagreement among members, analyze the situation and use your influence and professionalism to convince (without pointing blame) all parties to the correct outcome.

Remember to always reinforce being a friendly person; people resonate with that very well and as one of the most important aspects of Dale Carnegie’s golden rules, being friendly can go a long way. IF you encourage friendliness among your team and practice it yourself, you, your team, and your organization as a whole will be better off because of it.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Huntsville, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA.

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