How To Manage Conflict In A Team

Posted by Trakstar • August 31, 2022 • 7 min read

How do you resolve conflicts in your team? It’s difficult for managers and HR leaders to deal with conflicts in teams, particularly high-achieving teams. However, too much conflict can lead to burnout, churn, and a lack of productivity that impacts the bottom line. No one wants to work with people who are too combative or cause too many conflicts.

Even so, some conflict can be a good thing on teams. It’s up to managers and leaders to find a way to manage conflict in a team without causing even more problems.

It’s a fine line to walk, but it isn’t impossible. First, you need to understand why there are conflicts, categorize the types of conflicts you’re dealing with, and then learn how to manage conflict in a team.

Causes of Conflict in Teams

While everyone has bad days or “off” days, there are certain things that cause conflicts more than others. Some of the most common causes of workplace conflict in teams include:

These are just a handful of causes of conflicts in teams, but there are many other things that can cause issues. Sometimes, it is a singular person who constantly starts problems, while other times it is when two people need to work together.

Types of Conflict in Virtual Teams

In particular, virtual teams can have a lot of conflicts. This is because someone is far more likely to type something into Slack or Teams than they are to say it to your face. Even just adding a webcam into the situation can cause issues: people are bolder behind the camera than they are in person. 

Add in some other problems within virtual workplaces, like Zoom fatigue, time zone changes, burnout, collaboration problems, and more, and virtual teams are the perfect place for conflict to brew. 

Fixing and managing conflict in virtual teams is similar to fixing a conflict on an in-person team, but it sometimes takes longer to uncover and then fix the problems.

How to Manage Conflict in a Team: 5 Tips

Identifying conflict is one of the hardest steps when you’re a leader, but it is even harder to actively manage conflict in a productive way. This is a skill that most managers need to develop over time, it isn’t something they are going to know until they do it a few times. HR leaders must work with managers who are new to the company and new to the role to ensure that the way they are managing conflict is productive and aligned with company values.

Encourage Accountability

One of the best ways to manage conflict in a team is to encourage accountability. Ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them and then give them the tools to actually do their jobs successfully. Sometimes that will take time, and other in other instances, it will be something they know how to do right away. Every employee is different.

If you are struggling to find ways to encourage accountability, one of the best ways is to use 360-reviews. These reviews take input from other team members and employees to give a full picture of how someone is doing. This will enable managers to really talk to their employees and make improvements. This strategy works well for companies that work in shifts, remote companies, and companies where the manager isn’t always able to be around or work directly with their employees. It’s also great for employees who work in different departments and span the gap.

The Trakstar platform helps to facilitate 360-degree reviews and ensure they are done right. To learn more about 360-reviews, you can click here or schedule a demo of the Trakstar platform.

Show Appreciation

Another important way to manage conflict in a team is to show your appreciation for that team. What do we mean? You want to show appreciation regularly for employees who are doing the right things, avoiding conflict, and working with their teammates. Once that conflict is resolved, you want to show appreciation for the work that was done to get your team where it is.

Sometimes, appreciation can be used after a conflict to reset everyone. Other times, you can use appreciation as a way to pause things and give everyone a chance to reset before things reach their culmination.

To find out some new and exciting ways to show your appreciation for your employees, you can click here to download a free worksheet.

Fill in Skills Gaps

Sometimes high performers can start conflicts simply because they are overworked and tired. If you have team members who are picking up the slack of other team members and taking over a lot of their work, it may be time to fill in some skills gaps so that your high achievers aren’t working themselves towards burnout.

Take the time to figure out where people are getting overworked or perhaps taking on responsibilities in someone else’s job title, and then fill in skills gaps by either training employees or bringing in new hires, if possible. To learn more about filling in skills gaps, click here.

Talk it Out

If the problem is too bad, it may be time to bring the conflicting parties together and talk things out. This might start with one-on-one conversations with your employees where you collect all of the information and then a larger discussion with managers, HR (if necessary), and everyone involved. If this is a team-wide problem, bring in people who may or may not be directly involved. It’s important to keep everyone in the loop about what happened so they don’t hear about what happened from someone else and start a new conflict.

Know When To Hold ‘Em

Sometimes, you just need to know when to let a conflict simmer. This isn’t always good for culture, but it also isn’t a good idea to entertain every small conflict that pops up. Instead, give your employees the tools they need to fix their own problems and the grace to do so. Managers should know when to interject themselves into conflicts, but also when to give their employees time to work things out.

Are There Healthy Conflicts in Teams?

For example, conflict in a software development team may lead to the team producing a better product at the end. If there is only one person making the decisions and the rest follow without pushback, the end result won’t be as good. Another example is conflict in healthcare teams that have different ideas about how to make a patient better: those arguments can be tense, but they may lead to a better quality of life for someone.

It can be difficult to identify whether a conflict is a positive one or something that needs to be stopped. Managers need to be trained on ways to identify whether a conflict is good or bad.

Hire For Cultural Fit

Ask about conflict in a team for your interview questions. See how a manager would handle that type of environment. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the causes of conflict in a team, but sometimes conflict is good. Then, we need to hire managers that know how to overcome fear of conflict in a team.

Conflict in Teams Getting You Down?

If your team is facing a lot of conflict and you don’t know how to manage it, there’s a chance you need to do a little more. The bigger a team gets, the longer they work together, or the more stress they are under, the more likely it is that a team will face conflict. Sometimes those conflicts are easily resolved and other times they can create a serious rift in your department or in your organization.

The best way to work through conflict is to have a strong talent development program where you attract the best talent that fits into your culture, train your employees so that everyone can achieve their goals, and you hold everyone accountable for their actions, including their attitudes.

Building a talent development program is hard, but Trakstar can help you. Through the use of our Trakstar platform, HR leaders are given the tools they need to attract, retain, and engage a workforce that keeps conflicts to a minimum. To learn more about our platform, you can schedule a demo today.

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