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Conflict on teams is inevitable.  The question is not how to prevent it – it’s how to manage through it.  When the team hits an impasse, the best managers employ these four essential strategies for leading their team out of the wilderness and back to a productive relationship:

  1. Start neutral. When you intervene in an employee conflict, start from a position of neutrality. A question like “What’s going on?” followed up by hearing out every involved person equally, helps you gather perspectives without being seen to take sides – which is a quick way to lose credibility and fuel the flames.
  2. Direct attention back to the issue. Conflicts at work can stir up all kinds of negative feelings, and easily result in personal attacks. Keep people focused on resolving the problem by directing their attention back to the issue.  One way to do this is to rephrase it as you listen: “So what I understand you’re saying is that Susan has missed several deadlines on this project.”  Focusing on the issue helps remove the “personal stakes” factor and encourage employees to find solutions.
  3. Consider the wider implications of the conflict. Workplace conflicts frequently have “spillover” effects. Tension causes increased stress, which has a negative effect on productivity and can even cost you good people.  Once you’ve found a solution to the source of the problem, look at the “big picture” and address any other issues that have emerged as a response to the initial conflict.
  4. Make conflict easier to manage in the future with a “valuing” culture. Even when the team is not facing active strife, managers can do much to build a group that has more resilience when conflict does strike. Focus on developing a company culture in which each team member knows that they have a place in and value to the organization.  By doing this, you make it easier for team members to fight rising anxiety or insecurity when conflict arises, so they can focus on resolving it.

At ExecuTeam Staffing, our recruiters focus on connecting our clients to the best available talent, with an eye toward making a cultural “fit” that will lead to a lasting and productive relationship.  Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Houston.

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