All teams have conflict.

Conflict of teams

Team conflict can be a positive thing, if it is able to move the team forward and create a better approach.

Positive Team Conflict requires teams to have a shared Purpose (Goal) –  sufficient Trust in each other the team leader, and the organization – plus known and clear individual goals, roles and accountability plus authority.

Team conflict can be a negative thing, if it holds the team back from achieving its purpose, and is disruptive to the team members getting their work done.

As a Manager / Team Leader / Team Member when conflict happens, deciding whether to Not Deal With It; Give In; or Hold Out; is a choice that you must make.

Below is a checklist with some indicators based upon Team Conflict Approaches. The idea is for you to:

  • slow down
  • decide if the conflict is something that you need to Deal With, Give In, or Hold Out
  • then make the best plan and choices to keep the team moving forward

As a Manager or Team Leader NOT every issue needs to be dealt with, and you DON’T have to win every battle…

The individuals on the team are important and you need them more than they need you.

  1. Determine the area(s) of conflict.
  2. Ask and Respond to the following question: If this conflict was not happening, what would be happening in its place? What would the team/person/I be doing instead?
  3. Go through the ‘Checklist: Conflict Management Approaches’ and determine whether to not deal with it; give in; hold out.
  4. Create an experiment to see what happens (begin your Plan: Do: Check: Act Cycle)
  5. Test your experiment – and document What Worked; What did not Work; and exactly what you did and how you did it.
  6. Repeat as needed


Checklist: Conflict Management Approaches


Don’t Deal With it

Knowing that not all issues are worth arguing, either ignore the conflict, postpone dealing with if, or simply agree to disagree.

  • It’s a non-issue: the conflict topic is not important or central enough to be worth the time.
  • Tempers are too high to allow for a reasonable discussion.
  • You’re reasonably certain it will blow over with no adverse effects.
  • Acknowledging the issue or trying to resolve it will cause more harm than good.
  • There is little or no chance of coming to a satisfactory agreement.
  • There is a better chance of reaching a resolution if you wait for time to pass, more info to be available, or another event to occur.

Give in:

Let the other person have his/her way:

  • The issue means a lot more to the other person than it does to you.
  • Team solidarity is more important than the issue itself.
  • An interpersonal relationship is more important than the issue itself.
  • You have no chance of prevailing.
  • You want to show goodwill.
  • You’re willing to concede on this so that the other person will later return the favor on an issue that means more to you.
  • It occurs to you that you could be wrong, so perhaps it’s better not to push the issue.

Hold out:

Explore issues, exchange perspectives, and strive for a solution that gives everyone some of what they want (compromise) or that fully satisfies all parties’ concerns (consensus).

  • The issue is important
  • Commitment to the resolution is highly important
  • You know you’re right
  • Different perspectives are likely to lead to a higher-quality solution
  • The process of working through the conflict will enhance the team’s understanding and performance
  • The need to resolve the issue outweighs any potential difficulties the process resolution might cause

Also, look at ‘Dealing With Difficult Team Members’ for more ideas.

What do you think?

Any examples of when you chose to not deal with, give in or hold out on team conflict? What do you feel works?

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