Collaborative effort can produce the best results for a work project because the creativity and insight of each team member is being utilized. However, if a team is unable to work together because of conflict, the project results will fall short of expectations. As a manager, it is important that you help your team navigate the often complex interpersonal relationships of group work. Here are several ways to avoid conflict, as well as ways to resolve any conflicts effectively.
Clearly Define the Role of Each Team Member
One cause of team conflict is an unclear understanding of the roles that each team member must perform. If two individuals believe that they are both in charge of the same task, they will undoubtedly disagree over the way the task is being performed and executed. If each team member is given a specific assignment, people will feel more comfortable concentrating on their own task and letting others complete their work however they believe is best. They will know that they will be evaluated primarily on their personal contribution. You should, of course, encourage team members to collaborate and share ideas.
It’s a Team Effort not a Competition
Support the team as a group to cut back on individual competitiveness. If there is a disagreement, encourage teammates to meet the confrontation head on with an open mind. Avoid adding to any perception that one team member is out to make another look bad.
Different Opinions Contribute to a Better Outcome
Remind team members that different opinions within the team are good, and help contribute to the final product. If a discussion starts to get heated, let it continue. As a manager, you should show that you understand some conflict can be healthy. However, if the conflict stops being about the issue and evolves into personal attacks against people on the team, you should step in immediately and stop it.
You can stop conflict by discussing the matter with each individual involved. Try to take an objective, unbiased stance so that no one thinks that you are simply playing favorites. Discuss the matter individually with each person involved. Although you should try to let the team reach a solution on its own, be prepared to step in and make a final decision as a manager.
“Building Blocks for Teams – If we don’t get along.” Teaching and Learning with Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2010. http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/teams/student/conflicts.html#needs.
“Strategies for Resolving Conflict at Work.” Kenyon College. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2010. www.kenyon.edu/x37160.xml.