Drama and conflict in teams are unavoidable. Anyone who thinks otherwise should abandon their rosy cloud in La La Land and acknowledge that managing people in any capacity –Executive or HR- comes with an in-built requirement for well-developed conflict resolution skills. In fact, successful managers know from experience that when different people co-exist, tempers will flare. They also know that scapegoating specific individuals hardly ever resolves the problem. If anything, it usually has a more disruptive impact on the team.
Fragmented teams serve nobody, do they? So, unless it becomes evident that a specific employee is genuinely toxic to the team –in which case they need to be let go- there are more productive ways to resolve conflict and build a friction-free work environment.
Acknowledge the inevitability of conflict and address it professionally
In conflict, there are no bad guys/good guys analogies. The leader should accept this and ensure that their team know that hostility emerges when values clash. The next step is to make an effort to re-educate the team by putting themselves into the perceived opponent’s shoes. Usually, people are able to empathize with the other person and justify at least some aspects of their argument. This is a prime example of what conflict resolution –and team building- looks like.
Nurture a culture of inclusion and acceptance of everyone’s values
By no means should the leader allow any member of their team to feel ostracized or their values unappreciated. In times of internal turmoil, the leader is the port in the storm and should make their utmost to fulfil this role. Thus, your team should know that they can express any concerns openly, yet respectfully. Similarly, the people involved in the confrontation should be reminded how much their leader respects and appreciates them and should, therefore, be encouraged to extent the courtesy to each other.
Find what they share
This is none other than their passion to succeed and add value to the company. Every confrontation can be turned into an opportunity for contemplation on what they have in common rather than what sets them apart. Encourage them to find the middle ground even in the midst of conflict. What can they agree on and how can this whole experience be useful to them and the company? This is how conflict is not simply solved, but resolved.