Managing Conflict in Work Teams and Organisations

Conflict - cfamedia

Working in a team, or an organisation with other people different from you in backgrounds, thoughts, values and perspectives, creates an opportunity for disagreements and misunderstanding between you and others within the team.

Conflict is pretty much inevitable, when you work with others. How you handle those conflicts, determines whether it works to the team’s advantage, or contributes to its demise.

You can choose to manage conflicts in work teams, by choosing to ignore them, complain about them, blame someone for them, or try to deal with them.

You can be direct, by clarifying the issues with the other conflicting party or parties and attempt to find resolution to the conflicts, through some common techniques.

Conflict is not entirely a bad thing. Healthy and constructive conflict is a component of high-functioning teams.

Team members must be open to differences and not allow them to degenerate into full-blown disputes.

You should understand and appreciate the various viewpoints and perspectives involved in conflicts, which are key factors to brokering their resolution.

The most important thing is to maintain a healthy balance of constructive differences of opinion and avoid negative, destructive and disruptive conflicts.

Some ways of managing conflicts in work teams and organisations include:

Acknowledgement of Conflict

You have to, first, acknowledge the conflict, before you can manage and resolve it.

The first step is to call the attention of the team to a disagreement and when the issue gets recognised by the team, it can begin the process of resolution.

Discuss the conflict

Do not hold back anything in discussing the conflict. Discuss the impact that the conflict is having on the team’s performance.

Put the interest of the team first

Everyone involved in the workplace conflict must agree to cooperate in resolving the conflict, by putting the team first and setting aside individual opinions, or ideas, until the conflict has got resolved.

Keep the communication line open

The most important thing, when managing a conflict is, for everyone involved, to keep the communication line open and free.

This is not a time to keep malice. Be open-minded. The people involved need to talk about the issues and discuss them freely and honestly.

Each position on the issue in conflict should get clarified

Clarify positions in the team, on the conflict, or disagreement. This is very important.

Investigate and list outcomes

Investigate the facts of the conflict and list facts, assumptions and beliefs, underlying each position.

Analyse each position

In these small groups, analyse each position and the associated facts, assumptions and beliefs.

Determine the facts

At this stage, you determine what facts are true and more important, to the benefit of the team and the organisation.

Each side is likely to be closer to reaching an agreement, after the group dialogue. The process of uncovering facts, helps people to set aside their emotional attachments and see the issues, more objectively.

Decide which way to go

The team must decide on which decision, or course of action to take. With facts considered, it is easier for members of the team to see the best action to take and agree to move forward with it.

You can prevent workplace conflicts, by dealing with them immediately and not ignoring them. Having free and open communication, active listening, not allowing conflicts to get personal, or emotional, identifying facts and assumptions, are the key elements here.

Mutual respect for other team members, focusing on actionable solutions and having a ‘what happens in the team, stays in the team’ attitude, goes a long way in bringing speedy resolution to team conflicts.

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About the author

Oyinkansola Adesewa

A final year Mass Communication Student at Les Cours Sonou, University, Benin Republic. She is an art and media entrepreneur.

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