Donít Avoid Conflicts; Manage Conflicts using Conflict Resolution to Make Better Teams
An important area in team building is to help members manage conflicts and resolve issues in a way that is efficient for the team.†Well functioning teams are essential for the success of companies. One of the most important qualities of good teams is their ability to communicate with each other.†
Well functioning teams are essential for the success of companies. One of the most important qualities of good teams is their ability to communicate with each other. An important area in team building is to help members manage conflicts and resolve issues in a way that is efficient for the team.
Research on large companies in the past decade shows that team leaders:
Research shows that the most common ways to avoid conflict are:
The problem is that these views and methods are destructive and do not help the teams to become better at what they do. To address conflict management, consider the following guidelines.
Do not Ignore Conflicts
The most common response to conflicts is to ignore them. A simple method is to use silence treatment. This means, you don’t like what you hear, but can’t bring yourself to disagree. So now your protest stays with you and turns into self-talk. This erosive self-talk brings you to a halt, reduces your concentration and basically paralyses you.
Avoidance leads to an environment of passivity and non-involvement. People learn from each other that they should not care, even if they know the proposed solution is not going to work. This is why it is critical not to punish those who have a different opinion. Otherwise you risk silencing them forever which increases the risk of going the wrong direction with little commitment from the members of the team.
People who did not get their voice heard usually resent those who dominated the teams. This leads to a vicious destructive cycle.
Don’t Just Agree
Just agreeing to move on is not good enough because if there is a fundamental difference of opinion, it will show itself later. Of course there is always a time and place for everything and so if you feel it is not wise to argue over details at this point, you can safely move on while knowing that you will go through you differences later.
Agreeing is just another way of conflict avoidance which ultimately leads to the same vicious cycle of ignoring the team and encouraging non-commitment. Team building involves getting everyone to feel comfortable to provide their inputs to others without any kind of fear.
Don’t Fall Back to Old-fashioned Tactics
If parties don’t ignore each other, or agree to each other, the most common behaviour is to fall back to basic “dirty” tactics. People start to withhold information, score points using word play, set expectations, use manipulative tactics and refuse to give concessions to the other side.
These methods have short term results. They might help to win the battle, but the war is lost. Anyone who gets manipulated like this will remember the event the next time they are in a conflict. People become more obsessed with scoring points, office politics, team politics and ruining others than actually working together to solve problems and use the conflicts as a way to overcome challenges.
The party that wins a negotiation using dirty tactics usually would have difficulty to get others’ commitment into their solution or proposal. After all, others are manipulated into this and are not yet convinced. They will look for smallest signs of trouble and will flag it as proof that the proposal will not work. This again creates a negative atmosphere and erodes trust within the team.
Team building is not just about establishing rapport or getting on with each other. It is also about resolving conflicts by engaging with each other, understanding differences and using that as a way to overcome challenges. A conflict-free team is not really an ideal team at all since it is likely that team members are afraid to voice their concerns and so they no longer care. Indeed lack of conflicts in a team is a sure sign that the team is starting to fall apart. Too much conflict is also a sign that team members are not handling their differences well.
A balanced approach to conflict management is the best way forward for ideal team building. A great way to allows teams practice over these issues in to provide team building training and conflict management training. Companies can also use team building training materials and conflict management training materials to prepare custom courses for their specific teams.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Anderson is a training consultant at Skills Converged. The company provides training resources on soft skills, management skills and interpersonal skills which are used by the training community to deliver interactive face-to-face training courses. †