The Strategist

Step away: Handling conflicts in your team

03/27/2020 - 07:17

In order to achieve stability in the team, it is necessary to understand that conflicts are a sign of a workable and effective team. If your team does not have them at all, this may be a sign of a decline in motivation or neglect of work. Truly healthy teams always have conflicts, but not all managers are ready to accept this.

Fair battle rules

It is very important to ensure that all team members interpret the rules of behavior in conflict situations equally from the very beginning. When a dispute flares up, it is extremely difficult to bring it down to clarify the rules, and something that could hurt the relationship in the team may well happen. Sometimes one unfair remark or words demonstrating disregard for the feelings of another are enough to destroy the atmosphere in the team for a long time. Therefore, try to regularly remind people of the rules of fair battle so that they do not come as a surprise to anyone.

Violation of the rules must entail  consequences.

If you tell subordinates that conflicts in the team will be resolved honestly, but if one of the participants violates the rulespeople will lose confidence in you and the relationship in the team will deteriorate.

Argue about ideas, not about personalities

If you have hired exactly the people you need, your team should simultaneously have a variety of ideas about which course is preferable while working on a project. They will conflict with each other, so let people to argue and defend their opinions. But it is very important to prevent making personal remarks. Such conflicts can cause irreparable harm to the team, and your task as a leader is to ensure that every argument is about something, not about someone.

Seek virtues; don't limit yourself to criticism

There is nothing to be done, but some ideas are really terrible. Others make you doubt that the person who sets them out is sane. But in the long run, the quality of ideas affects the health of the team less than the attitude towards them. Of course, you should not welcome and encourage mediocre ideas, but it is worth introducing rules on how to criticize them so as not to destroy team spirit.

Everyone probably happened to participate in meetings in which someone mercilessly criticized any new idea without offering anything constructive in return. This behavior negatively affects team spirit and ultimately nullifies all efforts. It is unacceptable.

Demand to offer constructive criticism, and not just to smash other people's ideas.

It is often clear to everyone that the idea is bad, but so far no one has offered anything better. The team should develop an approach in which the idea is first sought out and only then rejected due to significant shortcomings. When a team uses this approach, it allows it to identify elements of an idea that may be useful, and at the same time clearly show that it is not applicable in its current form. You can discuss why the idea does not work, and not just dismiss it.

Based on “Herding Tigers. Be the Leader That Creative People Need” by Todd Henry