How to turn conflict to production in your team

It’s inevitable at some point there is going to be a level of disagreement. It’s impossible to avoid. What matters is how you resolve those conflicts and translate those murmurings into something productive. Another way of looking at conflict is debate. Sometimes those debates can produce genuinely inventive innovations.

A disagreement can actually inject the business with a jolt of life and energy if you handle it the right way. 

Identify conflict as early as possible

When tempers become frayed and relationships become strained, it takes a toll on the entire organisation. If left unattended, minor spats can quickly escalate into something more serious. Over time seemingly insignificant slights or resentments that could have been isolated and dealt with straight away can fester into destabilising grudges and acrimony.

Which is what makes identifying conflict as early as possible and nipping it in the bud is so crucial.

Without that kind of early intervention, a niggling issue can quickly spiral into something more serious. A low level of ill feeling humming below the surface can boil over and envelop the entire office in a mire of negativity.

Speak to both parties involved in the disagreement

Sometimes, those in a managerial role try to pre-emptively quash a conflict without addressing the root concerns that are at the driving cause of the conflict.

A good way to cut to the cause of the conflict is to host separate meetings with each party. That way each person is able to vent about any of their frustrations or anxieties or problems. The manager can field any questions or demands they might have and the team member feels like they’ve had the opportunity to voice all of their concerns without fear of retaliation.

After you’ve spoken to both sides, you can then host another meeting that allows for a resolution to be made. Forgiveness, owning any mistakes and agreeing to work together without acrimony is an integral part of moving on from any disagreement and forging a productive path forward.

Assess whether company culture is to blame

Rather than personality clashes or a difficult team member, conflict can actually be the end result of a less than ideal company culture. For example, are your staff overworked and over burdened? Do employees have a good work / life balance?

By identifying issues caused – or exacerbated by – the way your company currently operates – you can improve working practices to increase the productivity of your workers.

Some companies try to cultivate a sense of competition in hopes of increased efficiency. It’s not difficult to understand how this level of competition can actually prove to be counterintuitive when battling team members value their own contributions over those of the team.

In this way, conflict can be seen to give companies the chance to evaluate the way they operate and see if there are changes that can be made to improve things.

In summary

Conflict always hints at other issues bubbling beneath the surface. An adept, emotionally intelligent manager can channel disagreements into a positive change for the entire company.


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