Q: There’s a lot of conflict on one of the teams I manage. What can I do to help them work through their differences so they can be more productive?
A: Team conflicts can stem from differing viewpoints on the same issue or from personality clashes or turf struggles. As a team leader or manager, your role is to create a safe place where the issues that divide a team can be resolved. Team members must trust you and each other in order to be successful and productive. And don’t forget that sometimes conflict can be positive.
You don’t want everyone to think the same way or to agree just to make others happy. As your team comes together, you want them to bring up different points of view. Those differences can create conflict, but, if managed well, conflict often sparks innovation and can make the team stronger as they work through conflicting issues.
Your role is to do several things:
You don’t want everyone to think the same way or agree just to make others happy. You want team members to bring up different points of view.
When teams routinely handle conflict in this way, odds are they will be comfortable the next time an issue comes up. Remember, fear of conflict can derail a team.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].