Leadership Tip – Making Team Conflict Productive

Leadership Tip - Making Team Conflict Productive

We’ve always believed that the strength of a team is in different people of different backgrounds with different perspectives and different personalities coming together for a common cause and goal, all with the burning passion to get the best out of each other.

Ultimately, when you have a strong team like that, conflict on the team will be inevitable. Before you start feeling upset, demoralised & overwhelmed about it, fret not because when conflict is managed effectively, it is more often than not a good thing.  Plus, we’ve got your back so here are our 5 tips to making team conflict productive for your team.

Know Your Team
If you’ve gotten to this part, you’ll already know our stance on having diverse personalities, skills and experience in the team. Recognizing the value of each member’s strengths and weaknesses, skills and traits and how it helps the team and complements the rest of the team will help lay the groundwork for effective conflict resolution when conflict arises. Building team awareness across the board and appreciation of different styles will also put teams in perspective during discussions.

Pro-tip, if you feel that during discussions not everyone is actively participating, go one step up and reach out to those who are less vocal within the team and work with them and encourage them to ensure their ideas get added into the mix.

Address Common Conflict-Related Problems
Conflict is a good thing but two common problems we see in teams that could lead to negative outcomes are displays of passive-aggressive behaviour and the presence of one or two domineering personalities. If you notice any one member within your team displaying such behaviours, it’s important to quickly nip it in the bud through a private conversation with them sharing the examples you’ve seen and explaining why it’s affecting the team and becoming detrimental as well as trying to find out their motivations.

Model A Conflict-Positive Attitude & Promote Diverse Thinking
Constantly work to build a mutual understanding among the team that conflict is normal and healthy. For example, during tough moments of frustration share quotes on how having team conflict could potentially lead to better ideas and show them that you value and appreciate spirited debate. Show them it’s ok and actually ideal to tackle issues head-on when done constructively so they don’t second guess themselves when the outcome does not go positively in their favor. At the end of a heated discussion, thank the entire team for their passion and commitment and embrace the “lessons learned”.

Resolve Disagreements In A Way That Satisfies Different Members Within The Team
This goes back to knowing your team but in a different way. Apart from knowing their strengths and weaknesses, keep in mind that different conflict resolution strategies work best for different people. Keep all the different personalities in mind during conflict resolution. Some members might feel humiliated when things do not work out their way or some might not be comfortable being called out. If required, meet with them privately.

Make Time To Listen
Sometimes, when deadlines are creeping up and the team can’t seem to agree on a resolution or get past a certain conflict barrier, it might be tempting for you as a leader to force an end to the issue through power or go with the person with the most experience. Don’t allow yourself to get to this. Make time to listen to all sides so you can better understand the core of the issue and help the team to develop a solution.

Pro-tip, If you tend to always side with the most experienced person and force a discussion, this could also potentially lead to a bigger problem within the team where the rest of the team members might give up challenging ideas if they feel you will not listen.

If you have any other tips you would like to share, we’ll like to know! Don’t worry, we’ll credit you and provide you and your team with a special discount off our team building activities. Email us at [email protected].

To head back to read another article in our blog or for more tips on team building, click here. If you haven’t already read about how good team conflict helps your team, read about the 5 ways team conflict is good for your team here.