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From time to time teams will experience conflict. When the team leader or team members are able to resolve the conflict in a positive manner, the team becomes stronger and performs better.
From time to time teams will experience conflict. When the team leader or team members are able to resolve the conflict in a positive manner, the team becomes stronger and performs better. If the conflict is not resolved or resolved in a negative manner, the team performance suffers.
When to use
Whenever conflict arises on a team, one of the conflict resolution approaches should be applied to the situation.
From time to time, conflict occurs on teams. The team leader must recognize it and when needed help the team members resolve it. Conflict is likely to be emotional at times, so a facilitator, like the team leader, is often needed.
Causes of Conflict
There are both technical causes and personal causes. Technical causes are often easier to resolve. These are conflicts due to a difference of opinion about some aspect of the work. It could be the plan, the requirements, the technical approach or the technical standard used for acceptance. Clarify the issues associated with the conflict, and these can normally be resolved through explanations or negotiation. Personal causes are more difficult to resolve. Personal causes are based upon a team member’s background or personal values. These are not easily changed. While it is easy to say that we value diversity and respect differences, the diversity and differences will often create team conflict. This conflict will almost always require a facilitator to resolve.
Conflict Resolution Spiral
Conflict can be resolved in a manner that creates an upward spiral of strengthening the team. But if conflict is ignored or not resolved appropriately, it will cause a downward spiral in performance.
Unresolved conflict leads to loss of efficiency as team members waste time and energy in the conflict, communication is curtailed between the team members, and people start developing defensive and paranoid behaviour to protect themselves from the attacks of team members. Often physical or psychological illness follows.
Conflict that is resolved through a win-win approach, will improve overall team efficiency, fosters open communication, and creates trust and teamwork. All those increase the team’s performance.
The best simple technique I have found for team leaders to use is GRPI – Goals, Roles, Processes, and Inter-personal relationships. These are essentially the steps in team building. As a team, establish team goals, assign roles, develop processes and procedures, and the team relationships will develop. When conflict arises, it is usually because one of those four aspects has broken. The conflict shows up at the Inter-personal relationship level, but it is often due to a problem at a different level. Work your way back up GRPI, find the problem, resolve it, and then rebuild the team with the GRPI steps.
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