Most work teams experience conflict, but few team members know how to respond appropriately. Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, who recently presented on the topic of Why Teams Fail—Dealing with Friction and Dissension recommends that teams address conflict head-on and look at it as an opportunity to be creative and innovative instead of something to avoid.
As a team leader this means seeing conflict as a natural part of the team development process and using conflict situations as a way to help your team grow. Here are four common scenarios and some tips for getting started.
–If two or three differing positions are being argued in the group without any progress toward agreement , stop the group and ask each member to take a turn talking with no interruption or debate. Have the rest of the group listen and try to understand the differing points of view and look for commonalities.
–If the team is struggling with trusting one another and people are not feeling heard, stop the process and ask each person what they need from others to feel effective in the group.
–If personality styles are causing problems consider using a DISC, MBTI, or other behavioral assessment to help people understand each other better and learn to work together. These assessments can provide insight into your own style but more importantly, they help team members understand what the other person needs.
–Conflict that involves power issues, or strong personal agendas, must be dealt with differently. The reality is some people just do not fit on a team and you need to be willing to remove them–or offer them another role. This should only be an option when other attempts to work with the person have failed.
In all cases, the main thing is to embrace conflict. Dissension is a natural and healthy part of team development. To learn more about Parisi-Carew’s approach to team development, be sure to check out the on-demand recording of her presentation on Why Teams Fail—Dealing with Friction and Dissension.