With companies merge, employees leave one company for another, and new members of the workforce land their first jobs, many individuals are trying to form new teams. Regardless of the situation, most organizations encourage open and candid discussions between staff members among employees throughout the organization. These differences in perspective can elevate teams to a higher level of performance. Differences in opinion and/or outright conflict is natural, and it can be very productive. The key is how to use conflict to our benefit so we can reach these higher levels of performance.
So how does one operate on a conflicted team? We still need to be able to create a win-win solution for the team and the organization. How do we use conflict to our advantage?
1. Acknowledge Conflict
Acknowledging conflict can be uncomfortable, yet once the conflict is recognized and discussed the team will feel a sense of relief. People tend to be more effective when they can agree to work together and find mutually satisfactory solutions to common problems.
2. Gain Common Ground
Is there common ground between the parties involved in the conflict? Put the conflict in perspective based on the team’s goals. If everyone is committed to a common purpose, they should be willing to address any issue that may affect the team’s final outcome.
3. Understand Each Point of View
Gaining an understanding of difference perspectives does not necessarily mean gaining agreement on all sides. Here we must take the time both to understand and be understood as we gain information from all sides.
4. Attack the Issue(s), Not Each Other
Bickering or fighting with someone on the team is an unwanted stress, yet the issue needs to be addressed in order for the team to maximize its potential. The goal is to reach a solution that allows everyone to achieve individual/team goals without violating anyone’s values.
5. Develop an Action Plan
a. The team will outline specific steps that each person on the team will take in order to reach the team’s goal. Each person will be accountable for his/her role in the action plan, and the plan will be written on paper so that each person is aware of his/her responsibilities to the team.
As team members utilizes this five-step process to address issues and conflicts, they will see more win-win situations and the team will increase their levels of productivity.