Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to resolve conflicts within a team

Diagnose the root cause of the conflict, then search for possible solutions.

Listen to what the parties are saying. Is the cause a particular behavior, a clash of personalities, or a situation? What seems to be really at stake for the members in conflict?
Find the right tone and setting for conflict resolution. Don’t take sides—moderate the discussion. Consider scripting what you plan to say, and anticipating how others will respond.
Allow the disagreeing parties to voice their feelings, and ask questions about why they feel as they do.
Encourage members to manage their emotions and to talk rationally about what can be done to solve the problem.
Work with the disagreeing parties or the entire team to identify and evaluate alternative solutions to the problem.

Think twice before replacing a member who is not a "team player."

Before removing a difficult team member, make him aware of his actions and how he negatively affects the team.

Set up an appointment with the difficult person to explain the problem.
Give him a chance to change his actions—set specific goals and deadlines for this behavior change.
If no changes are made, consider bringing the matter up for a group discussion. Do not be confrontational. Instead, allow the member to give his or her side of the story before the other team members contribute their feelings. Stay focused on the issues—don’t allow personality conflicts to take center stage.
Only if the negative behavior persists after all these interventions should you consider removing the difficult person from the team.

Discourage cliques from forming.

Teamwork calls for the collaboration of the entire team, not just a few select people. If you see cliques developing, try to break them up, if possible, by shuffling assignments, so that members who don’t know each other as well can work together.

Encourage members to forgive each other.

Encourage forgiveness by practicing forgiveness yourself. Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t harbor ill will after a conflict has been resolved. And remember to apologize when you’ve done something wrong.

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