The #1 reason team members are unwilling to zap team conflict is the fear of consequences (80%*).
The result surprised me because not much has changed over the years.
Years ago, I facilitated a team and there was a guy named Rob who didn’t like listening to people with different ideas. And, gave me a hard time for giving everyone a chance to speak. In fact, he would make snide comments like, “That’ll never work” or “You’re wrong” creating no-win disagreements with others. One time he wrote about me, “Must be her time of the month!” I felt humiliated.
But, as the facilitator, I didn’t allow it to deter the purpose of the team. Ironically, Rob was being fast-tracked by executive management. So, when Rob’s comments continued, I mentioned it to my VP. He responded, “You’re overreacting.” But, for whatever reason, Rob stopped attending the meetings to the relief of everyone on the team. The conflict he created was gone. They were now able to do a great job of achieving the intended results without Rob as a roadblock.
There are a lot of programs available on conducting effective meetings and managing conflicts. Every team leader and member must access this information to improve their confidence and their team’s results.
Remember, “If you’re waiting for someone else to take the initiative, so are they!” Jeannette Seibly
Keep in mind, team conflict is not a bad thing. But how you manage team discussions makes all the difference. If you don’t learn how to resolve team disputes constructively, your team will fail. Unresolved team quarrels are why only 10% of teams achieve their intended results! (Pritchard)
11 Tips to Guide You to Resolve Team Conflicts and Build Better Result
- Be Intentional. Most team members attend meetings with the intention of “just getting through it” and use the time to think about other things. Attend each meeting with the intention of listening, learning, and ensuring the process is moving forward, great results will follow.
- Park Your Ego at the Door. Roll up your sleeves and go into the meeting to move the project or program forward. When issues arise, and they will, listen to the other person’s argument instead of thinking of a rebuttal. You may find you agree! This is required to build better ideas.
- Set Up the Team to Win. At the very beginning of a project or program, be clear about the goal, timeline, budget, and get buy-in from all team members. Define who the project or program is for (e.g., company-wide, department, customer, association, etc.). Address any naysayers now. If you wait, it’ll only get worse.
- Ensure Everyone Has Chance to Speak. Whether you are the team leader or not, encourage candor. Ask clarifying questions when needed and value each person’s responses. Call on each team member to ensure no one is missed. Allow them to say, “pass” if they have nothing to add. To manage time, remind team members they have 3 minutes each.
- Encourage Brainstorming. This is Critical. Brainstorming issues allows each person to share their insights and experiences without comments from others. Don’t make any decisions without hearing from everyone.
- Build on Other’s Ideas. To align on ideas, again, give each team member a chance to speak. When it’s your turn, focus on an idea already offered and add any new info. Don’t ever bash others’ ideas.
- Don’t Take Sides. When asked your opinion, share the positive attributes of both sides. If you have an idea that is win-win-win, offer it. Then, allow others to take credit for it.
- Bring in an Outside Influencer. Instead of feeling disheartened your team is in turmoil, ask for help. An outside influencer will review the facts, provide insights, and guide critical thinking. Remember your intention is to resolve the issue, not assess blame.
- Agree or Agree to Disagree. A quick way to resolve a disagreement: repeat back what the person said to his/her satisfaction before offering your own opinion. Have them do the same in return. (Often, you’ll discover that what you thought was a disagreement no longer exists.) This ensures the other person feels heard. Remember, only one person speaks at a time. This deters the triggers that can set people off on new tangents while confusing the core issue.
- Seek Out Mentoring and Coaching. Talk with your mentor or coach on how to best handle the conflict. Remember, the focus is not on who is right or wrong, it’s getting the issue(s) resolved. Don’t forget, bosses want results-producers that are committed to fulfilling the intended results.
- Learn and Master the Art of Working with Difficult Team Members. These skills will support you in all group and team efforts. You must practice them to master them!
*The stat came from people responding to an online survey or participating in a focus group I conducted.
©Jeannette Seibly 2021
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach, management consultant, and keynote speaker for over 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A Note about Resolving Team Conflicts from Jeannette. Team conflicts can be disheartening to even the strongest of team leaders and facilitators. But team conflicts can be used to produce intended results when managed constructively. There are many training and coaching programs available to develop the skills required for conducting effective meetings. Need help? I’ve been running meetings that have produced unprecedented results for over 30 years…contact me and we’ll brainstorm answers for you. Contact me!