When it comes to practically any team, conflict is inevitable. So rather than be concerned about it, the best teams harness that energy towards a positive outcome. There are two steps in conflict resolution. The first is simply to acknowledge conflict exists and not avoid the issue. Second is dealing with it proactively.
Managing Team Conflict
1) Focus on content. Personality clashes have no place inside effective teams. Sometimes team members need to be reminded to focus on the facts of a disagreement without allowing personal likes and dislikes to cloud their judgment.
2) Manage fairness perceptions. Conflict often arises out of feelings that some members are doing more than others. Refer to the team charter and stick to those agreements.
3) Make concessions. Being effective is better than being ‘right.’ What will move the team along faster? Conceding to an alternative view or taking an inflexible stance?
Dealing with Problem Teammates
What defines a problem teammate? It’s someone who performs below the agreed upon expectations. Generally that person was given multiple opportunities to improve but simply ignored any suggestions. Their underperformance is due to a lack of effort rather than a lack of skill.
1) Agree on the problem. Articulate the problem and have the problem team member acknowledge it.
2) Discuss solutions. Ask for specific actions to improve performance.
3) Action plan. What specific steps need to be taken for improvement? What deadlines need to be met? Identify any required resources. Email the plan to the entire team.
4) Provide feedback and reinforce improvement. As behaviors change, other team members should both recognize and reinforce positive modifications in communications with the previously difficult team member.
Additional suggestions for resolving team conflict and poor performers are available in the TeamMATE® Teamwork Toolkit.