This Important Skill Helps Leaders Build High-Performing Teams

Within a team, there is bound to be conflict.


There are a lot of varying needs, objectives, interests, skills and priorities that can easily cause conflict or disagreement.


This can actually be a good thing, provided the conflict is around ideas and issues. Healthy and productive conflict leads to new and better solutions to tough problems.  


As a leader, what role do you take in supporting healthy conflict, while resolving unhealthy team conflict? Should you be more hands-on, or let team members resolve their own issues?


Leaders can coach team members on how to engage in productive conflict and resolve issues among themselves.


When to Intervene

When the health of the organization is at risk due to persisting conflict and when conflict turns nasty or becomes directed at people and personalities, it’s time to intervene.


It’s important to approach the situation as a facilitator, rather than a boss or authority, and to have the interests of all parties in mind.


Taking sides or displaying biases will not instill confidence in your team members of your neutrality.


Why Choose  to Facilitate?

When team members feel involved in the decision-making, they are more likely to take accountability and follow through with their intentions.


If a leader comes into a conflict, declaring a resolution and delegating orders, employees are likely to push back.


What’s more, they will not learn anything from the situation and will continue to rely on you when conflict arises.


How to Facilitate Team Conflict

Team members will look to you for guidance and may expect you to step in as an authoritative figure.


Although you have this option, it is more advantageous in the long-run to collectively come to an amicable resolution, and use authority as a last resort.


Depending on the nature of the conflict, the individuals involved may have a great deal of emotion, which can impair their reasoning and ability to come to a consensus.


As a facilitator, your goal is to understand each perspective and identify the root of the conflict — where did things go wrong? Use your best judgment to decide if it is best to initially meet with each party separately or together.


If you decide to speak with each party separately, use the time to understand their concerns and issues, and focus on resolving the conflict once you are all together.


Facilitators are most successful when they display empathy and do more listening than talking. During individual meetings, remain neutral and do not imply any support one way or the other.


A joint meeting can take place after individual meetings occur and empathy is built. Establish parameters for the meeting such as who will talk and when, and to remain respectful to each speaker.


Ideally, this will be the first step in establishing a pathway to conflict resolution, where team members can communicate effectively with one another, without your help.


Moving Forward

Leaders should instill the mentality that conflict, while natural and necessary, can be detrimental to the health of a team, if communication is lacking and issues go unresolved.


A Team Development Retreat of Leadership Effectiveness Training can empower leaders with the skills and knowledge to become effective facilitators in their organization and support productive conflict while mitigating unhealthy conflict.


Start designing your customized Team Development Retreat or Quarterly Offsite.

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