As a team leader, one of the hardest things you could face within is conflict, whether it’s a conflict with a member or a scuffle between two contemporaries, conflict has been and will always be a tough, yet needed point in any teams’ journey.
For starters, conflict is not inherently a bad thing, quite the opposite, it’s a healthy dynamic to identify the problems, push the team forward and strengthens the bonds between its members if managed correctly. Conflict elevates and supports creativity, as Margaret Heffernan said: “ For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”
What creates conflict?
But before tackling how to solve a conflict, first, we need to ask ourselves, what causes conflict?
Well, since conflict is caused by deeply human feelings, it’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason that applies all the time, but in general, according to Forbes, we can attribute it to two main points:
- Communication: As per everything organizational, communication or lack thereof is always a major key in the rise and fall of any entity, and this topic is no exception. Conflict happens mainly because of two parties being on different sides of a spectrum, and what causes that more than confusion caused by bad communication. For more regarding communications, check out our blog about how leaders communicate.
- Emotions: Its easy in a professional setting to neglect emotions and focus on pure productivity, but not managing your team emotionally could lead up to bottling up emotions that could explode in any second, leading to a conflict that might be too hard to contain.
How to successfully manage a conflict?
Now we reached our point, you currently have a healthy conflict with a member, how can you manage it successfully?
There are countless ways to do that, but we will focus and the main 3 that can bring the best results:
- Have an honest conversation with the person, allow them to talk and express themselves no matter what you think about what they’re saying because it’s important for the person to feel heard and able to express his emotions, since as we mentioned previously, bottled up emotions is a main cause of conflict.
- Establish ground rules, any productive conversation must start from a shared sense of reality, try to find common points of agreement and branch out from that, and beware that every point whether resolved or not must end at both parties will, never force a conversation or a topic to end.
- Down the line, try to show progress on the specific topics you discussed, point them out to the person, it’s helpful to take notes too in the meeting to address specific conflict points, later on, showing your member that you listened to his/her concern.
Conflict is a byproduct of the human aspect of work, and as much as you can try, you’ll never be able to escape it, so it’s better and healthier to your organization to tackle it head-on.
In the end, Conflict is caused by strong emotions towards a topic or a cause, being passionate about something, a passion for good and growth that you can feel, experience and feel.7