Leaders, teach your teams how to resolve conflict!

May 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm 1 comment

by Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

Some leaders see conflict as active teamwork that produces the best ideas. Other leaders see conflict as non-teamwork. It is likely that conflict will occur on teams. The key question is: What are the best ways for you as leaders to teach your teams how to resolve conflict?

I asked leaders: How do you address conflict on and between teams to get great teamwork results regardless of the situation?

The responses I received:

  • “Select individual team members for their great attitude and for their ability to work on diverse teams in difficult situations.”
  • “We deal with each conflict as it arises. I first ask the people to work it out. If they can’t, I step in and resolve the conflict.”
  • “I tell everyone to stay focused on the team goals and overlook the rest.”
  • “I am not a baby sitter. Team members are adults. I tell them to work it out between them.”
  • “I don’t like conflict.  I try to make peace as quickly as possible when I am confronted. I am not sure how to arbitrate disputes when it is between two other people.”

Try My Proven Practices to Resolve Team Conflict

  1. Show them the difference between opposing views and opposing each other. The first can lead to a great result. The second goes nowhere. They will clearly see which is happening once they are aware of the difference.
  2. Have each person present the other person’s view. This helps turn the conflict into a productive exchange of ideas. Teach this technique and moderate while they are learning.
  3. Hold a team development session to assess each team member’s personality type and discuss how to interact for best teamwork results. A diverse team often produces better results because it has more outlooks and talents. Yet, if team members do not know or understand the dynamics of personality types, you get interpersonal conflict or cliques of similar types. Personality types impact teamwork. Understanding personality types helps to both prevent and resolve interpersonal conflict. The return on your investment of time and money is significant.  Read more at http://bit.ly/c3UpQ7.
  4. Ask yourself, what conditions are leading to this conflict? As a leader, have you been unclear about goals? Have you fallen short in handling organizational politics and put teams at odds with each other? Do you hide from conflict and hope it will just go away?  It won’t just disappear. In fact, it will fester and erupt at different times.
  5. Instead, show everyone how to communicate honestly with respect and without brutality. Read more at 4 Spring Training Exercises for Best Teamwork Results.

Kate Nasser has spent 20+ years as The People-Skills Coach delivering training and coaching on professional people-skills.  Her team building workshops throughout the USA and Canada build empowered teams that can easily adapt to change. When your teams can do this, it adds profit to your bottom line. Kate can be reached at 908.595.1515 or email:info@katenasser.com. To receive more tips on teamwork, customer relations, leading change, and people-skills, sign up at http://katenasser.com for her Kate’s people-skills newsletter “Smart SenseAbilities”.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Angela  |  August 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Kate, your points are right on. I work in a team environment and I also studied the team dynamics at Univ of Phoenix. Differences in personality and mis-communication cause the most problems. Coworkers cannot always “work it out” if they don’t know how to improve the conversation. By understanding our differences we can change our approach or communication style to improve conversations. My team went thru a class that identifies each person’s personality type and explained our differences but it went right over their head. Most of the people I work with are “people persons and followers.” They get along.


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