Tag: Conflict Resolution

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Team leaders are often called in to help mediate conflicts within their team, or sometimes within other teams. Although many people dislike dealing with conflict, when it is managed properly, it can be a positive thing. With the proper tools, people are able to air their ideas and their issues, share information in a constructive manner, and work towards resolving their differences. All of this should result in a more productive, respectful, open workplace.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Using a Conflict Resolution Process

Having a pre-defined conflict resolution process is a valuable tool. This process will give any team leader an objective, neutral way to identify, explore, and resolve conflicts. We recommend using the OPEN technique.

On The Table – Identify positions, perceptions, interests, needs, concerns, goals, motivations
Put the Problem into Focus – What is the problem? What is not the problem? Make sure you identify the real root cause. Problems are often not what they seem!
Explore Your Options – Brainstorm Solutions. The objective here is quantity, not quality. Once you have some solutions, evaluate and come up with a short list.
Negotiate a Solution – Always aim for win-win.

After a solution has been negotiated, make sure to follow up and make sure that the conflict has indeed been resolved and that the proposed solution is working. If it is not working, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, perhaps with input from others (if appropriate).

Maintaining Fairness

During the conflict resolution process, it is very important that you remain objective and neutral to ensure that the process is fair to all. Key behaviors include:

  • Never taking sides, even if asked
  • Asking for, and encouraging, a response from all comments
  • Remaining objective and neutral, and avoiding subjective comments
  • Offering factual observations to both sides to help root out the key issues
  • Encouraging win-win solutions
  • Ensuring a balance of power is maintained, so that one side does not feel bullied or neglected

Seeking Help from Within the Team

At times, it may be appropriate to involve the entire team in conflict resolution. This often occurs when:

  • There is a conflict between all members of the team
  • There is a conflict between a few team members that is affecting the entire team

In these situations, it is important to have a face-to-face meeting of the entire team. Write the OPEN process on the flip chart. The team’s input should be greatest in the first three phases. In the negotiation phase, you (as the team leader) should ensure that the proposed solution will not negatively affect others or cause more conflict.

Seeking Help from Outside the Team

If the people in conflict are unable to resolve the problem with your assistance, and team assistance has not worked or is not appropriate, then it may be time to seek help from outside sources. This approach can also be used when you have a conflict of interest in the issue at hand.

Outside sources can include:

  • Other leaders
  • Mediators
  • Human resources personnel

No one with authority over the team (such as your manager) should be considered, as they may intimidate the people in conflict and take focus away from conflict resolution.



Creating an Effective Atmosphere for Conflict Resolution in Your Team

Conflict Resolution
Image Source: RyanMcGuire

When two or more people get together there is the possibility of conflict.  People are different, and when these differences come to light, conflict happens. When people are involved in conflict, there is typically negative emotions such anger, frustration and disappointment. By establishing a positive atmosphere in your team, you can turn the negative energy around and build a strong platform for the conflict resolution process.

Neutralizing Emotions during the Conflict

For the resolution process to begin, it is essential that both parties must agree that they want to resolve the conflict. Once they have agreed to resolve the conflict, the next step is to neutralize as many negative emotions as possible. The participants must be given enough time to vent and work through the feelings associated with the conflict.

Key steps to neutralizing emotions in the conflict resolution process:

  • Accept that you have negative feelings and that these feelings are normal.
  • Acknowledge the feelings and their root causes.
  • Identify how you might resolve your feelings.

Set the Ground Rules for Conflict Resolution

Ground rules provide the framework for resolving conflict and should be set at the beginning of any conflict resolution process. Depending on the situation, these ground rules can be extremely brief or highly detailed. The ground rules can be referred to by the participants throughout the conflict resolution process. These ground rules give the participants and objective way of addressing personal attacks and emotional issues.

Guidelines for ground rules:

  • The ground rules should be developed and agreed upon by all parties involved.
  • The ground rules should be positive as far as it possible.
  • The ground rules should be fair to both parties.
  • The ground rules should be enforceable.
  • The ground rules should be adjustable.
  • The ground rules should be written and posted where both parties can refer to them.

Some of the ground rules that can be set include:

  • We will listen to each other’s statements thoroughly before responding.
  • We will work together to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution.
  • We will respect each other as individuals, and therefore not engage in personal insults and attacks.

Choosing the Right Time and Place for Conflict Resolution

Choosing the right time and place is an essential part of successful conflict resolution.  You will not have much success trying to resolve a serious issue in the team, five minutes before the end of a shift. Whenever possible, you should choose a quiet place to discuss the conflict. Make sure there is enough time allowed and minimize distractions. Keep the needs of both parties in mind when scheduling the meeting. Make sure the time chosen works well for both of them and choose a neutral location. Remove any distractions so that both parties can concentrate on resolving the conflict.