BPW International Blog
How to Effectively Address Conflict Between Members of Your Team
Conflict is something that will occur at some point in even the most congenial work environment. The larger the team, the greater the potential for conflict. It is virtually impossible to please everyone at all times, so conflict is bound to arise eventually. If not handled effectively, this conflict can cause problems within your team, ultimately hurting your business as a whole. Luckily, women are natural problem-solvers, so you should have no problem resolving conflict with the strategies outlined below.
When it comes to conflict resolution, a proactive response is usually better than a reactive one. Rather than allowing a minor conflict to become a major issue, it is better to address the problem right away, so that your team can get back to work quickly. The longer a conflict drags on, the greater the impact it can have on your business. Although some conflicts may resolve themselves, this is not always the case, so it is better to take action sooner rather than later.
When approaching a conflict situation, don't try to take the resolution upon yourself. Even though your feminine intuition may make you want to step in and help, this isn't always the best approach. Instead, empower your team members to work through the conflict together. If they are able to collaborate on a solution to the problem, it is more likely that both sides will be happy with the end results. They will also be less likely to enter into new conflicts in the future, making your team stronger going forward.
In many cases, the two sides of a conflict do not fully understand why the other is upset. As women, we are typically blessed with the power of empathy, so try to pass that along to your team. Encourage your team members to express their concerns and make sure that the other parties have plenty of opportunities to ask clarification questions. Make sure that each party fully understands where the other is coming from before moving on. The better each side is able to understand each other's perspective, the more easily they can come up with a resolution that satisfies everyone involved.
If your team is unable to arrive at a solution themselves and you are required to step in, do your best to remain objective when evaluating the details of the conflict. This means to leave your personal feelings about the individuals involved in the conflict behind so that you can focus on the specifics.
In addition, try not to favour one side because you believe that team or person to be more important than the other. After all, every department and team member is important; otherwise they would not be there in the first place. Try to come up with a resolution that is equally beneficial to both sides. It can sometimes be difficult to put your personal feelings and emotions aside, but this is all part of being an effective manager.
One of the main sources of conflict is ambiguity. Typically, the expectations of one party may differ a little from those of another. These small differences in expectations create breeding grounds for conflict, so do your best to eliminate them wherever possible. One of the best ways to do this is to document all policies and procedures. Then, if there is any question as to how things should be done, your team can refer to the appropriate documentation for reference, effectively eliminating future conflicts before they start.
Although it is virtually impossible to prevent conflict from happening entirely, with these tips you should be well-equipped to handle anything your work day throws your way. In the end, resolving conflicts effectively can bring your team members closer together, allowing them to work alongside one another more effectively in the future.
BPW believes in empowering women and helping them become leaders in their chosen fields. We provide professional mentorship, networking, and skill-building services that help women become better managers who can effectively address conflict between the team and build strong working relationships with colleagues.