Many of us don’t like conflict and prefer to avoid it rather than confront it. If we don’t learn how to deal with conflict, the danger is that when conflict arises, the situation will soon escalate into something destructive that causes long-term damage to relationships and teamwork.
Today’s project teams are often thrust together and expected to get the job done as quickly as possible. As a result, most project teams must share a common understanding:
- Everyone on the team is unique, with distinctive personalities and working styles.
- Teams must anticipate conflict.
- We should identify ways to mitigate discord with which everyone can live.
When teams acknowledge they will face conflict, find simple ways to deal with conflict, and move on, they are likely to take conflict in stride rather than being derailed by it. Conflict, when managed well, can lead to learning and growth for teams. It can be a stimulus for new ideas and solutions that otherwise might not be identified.
Establish a conflict resolution process that is acceptable for everyone on team. In most cases, a four-step process is all that is needed:
- Individuals will try to resolve the conflict with each other.
- It two individuals cannot resolve the conflict, the team leader will intervene.
- If the team leader cannot facilitate resolution, an outside facilitator will mediate.
- Once the conflict is resolved, other team members will be apprised of the outcome.
As simple as the process might be, it is important that all team members understand and accept the process. Discuss it among teammates; the discussion instills a level of accountability for each team member regarding conflict management, it reinforces the concept that all members are individually responsible for resolving conflict and it solidifies the group’s overall ability to resolve conflict quickly.