Managing a team is tough enough without people getting into arguments. You might all be mature adults in a place of work, but that won't stop people from having disagreements, arguments and squabbles. Unfortunately, conflicts within your team and disruptive, and can reduce productivity and efficiency. Some conflicts are resolved quickly, but others can drag on and throw everything off. If you want things to go more smoothly, you need to not only be able to solve conflicts quickly, but also reduce the likelihood of them occurring in the first place. To reduce and solve conflict within your team, take a look at some of these helpful techniques.
Create a Process for Resolving Conflict
Just knowing how to resolve conflict within your team is a good start. Often, when a conflict arises, you might be unsure about the best way to get it sorted out and get everyone to cooperate. By creating a process that you can follow when conflict rears its head, you can take a methodical approach to working out the problem and coming to a solution. Here are some of the steps you could take to resolve conflicts within your team:
- Acknowledge the conflict and how it's impacting the team - everyone needs to admit that there's a problem and agree on what it is.
- Agree to work together to solve the conflict and come up with the best resolution for everyone by communicating openly.
- Get perspectives from everyone in the team or involved in the conflict to see what their positions are.
- Work out the facts and separate them from people's beliefs or assumptions.
- Try working in smaller groups to analyze the problem and come up with potential solutions. During this step, it can be useful to separate people who would usually form alliances with each other so that they are exposed to different perspectives.
- Discuss potential resolutions as a team and come to an agreement about the best way to solve the conflict.
Encourage Open Communication
Communication is everything when it comes to reducing and resolving conflict. If your team can't communicate properly, it could be the cause of many problems. And when issues do occur, it will be more difficult to untangle them if no one is able to communicate with each other. The first thing you can do is to encourage open communication so that everyone feels they are able to bring up any problems before they can fester and become something that's harder to handle. As well as encouraging better communication, you also need to teach your team how to communicate. Some extra training or advice on the best ways to express their thoughts and get their points across clearly can go a long way.
Make Sure Your Team Has Everything They Need
One of the issues that can cause a lot of problems within your team is a lack of adequate resources. Having to fight over the resources you have available in order to do their job can make anyone annoyed and ready to start an argument. Even if someone is spending two minutes arguing over where someone has taken their stapler or whose turn it is to use the photocopier, it's time that they're not working. You can lose productivity to silly arguments over resources that everyone should easily have access to. Budget constraints can sometimes make it difficult to provide more resources, but you can make it a priority to take a look at what you need and whether you can find any extra money for it. There are ways to make savings too so that you can get more out of your budget.
Another cause of many conflicts in the workplace is differing priorities among team members. When people are putting different things first, it can cause disagreements about how everyone should be using their energy and time. When working on a project, being sure to clarify priorities will help to prevent anyone arguing over this. It's also helpful to be clearer about who should be doing what. You can use project management software to make these things easier.
Hold Team Building Exercises
As well as working on general communication skills, you can also consider how team building could help to reduce conflict. You can find many team building courses available online if you want an easy and convenient way to deliver training to your team. Online courses can be customized too, so you don't have to use only a prepackaged, one-size-fits-all course. It's also easy to find other ways to offer team building exercises and advice. You could have a training day in the office or even get outdoors for some fun activities that encourage everyone to work together.
Be Aware of Troublemakers
Sometimes conflicts within a group aren't caused by a particular issue, but rather by a certain person. Some people can't help causing conflict, and it can upset the balance of the whole team. If there's anyone who isn't interested in working well and communication with everyone else, they're probably just dragging the team down. However, you should recognize the difference between people who are lacking the necessary skills for teamwork and those who refuse to develop them. If they're eager to learn, give them a chance to develop those skills. But if they're not interesting in learning, you might be better off without them.
Give Managers Extra Training
If you're in a position to arrange training for managers, making sure they have the training to deal with conflict is essential. As team leaders, they should be able to help people deal with problems as independent mediators. They shouldn't need to control everyone like a teacher controls a classroom, but they should be able to encourage discussion and handle conflicts sensibly. Many people will expect their manager to help them solve a conflict and will see them as the first point of contact if they have a problem they want to address.
If you want to reduce conflict in the workplace, you should both address issues that cause arguments and work out how to solve problems quickly. Your team needs the right resources and skills to get their work done properly.
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