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Resolving Conflicts between Team Members

ConflictConflicts are common on every team. Expect them and let your team know to expect that conflicts will occur. Prior to a conflict occurring, however, work with the team to have a process in place for how conflicts will be managed and resolved when they do occur.

Consider these steps to resolve a conflict between two or more team members:

  • Set ground rules for the conflict resolution discussion (listen, wait for turn to speak, don’t personalize the conflict, etc.)
  • State the conflict to be resolved in clear, concise, non-judgmental language. Keep the description of the conflict neutral.
  • Clarify that there is understanding among all team members as to what is the conflict (not everyone may see the conflict in the same way) – this is especially important when working with virtual teams across cultural boundaries
  • Discuss areas of agreement (what is already resolved or points where the team members already agree) and areas of disagreement (what needs to be resolved still).
  • Begin discussion – ideally face-to-face but when not possible use a virtual platform; ensure team members listen carefully to each other’s point of view
  • Should conversations get heated, take a break and, when you restart, restate ground rules and begin again
  • Develop, in conjunction with those having the conflict, alternatives to resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of all parties.
  • Evaluate win-win solutions and agree upon a solution.
  • Establish an action plan to implement the solution.
  • Check in regularly with the team members to ensure they have resolved the conflict and are working together more effectively

Having a process in place for resolving conflicts enables for better and quicker resolution of those conflicts when they arise. It all sets expectations with team members that conflict will arise but, when they do, there is a plan in place to manage them.