Conflict Resolution Part 1
Reinforcing the benefits of a positive outcome
Teams are always on the flux. If they are working well as a team then any upset from one team member will affect everyone as there should be some group empathy taking place. That people should care for each other is natural. So there will always be ups and downs and imagining, therefore, that there is a team Nirvana out there is very unlikely to be realistic.
However, you do need to have a big picture of how you would like the team to be. If you are to work together, for the good of the company, you need a vision. That vision is likely to see all your team enjoying the benefits of a healthy team support system. Anticipate that the team will have problems from time to time, but feel confident there is a range of solutions available to enable disputes to be reconciled and the team to be supported through their more difficult times.
Your view of the team may sound very obvious to you but unless you communicate it to the rest of the team, how will they know?
You may already have a range of techniques you know to apply and your organisation will have policies in place to resolve situations between staff. However, none of them will be any good unless you are aware of them, use them and make the team aware of them also. Throughout all difficult situations and when dealing with difficult team members always stress your belief in a positive outcome. This will give everyone faith and hope that, whatever the problem, it can be resolved effectively, and the team can move forwards.
When you work through difficulties, it can make you much stronger. You will learn more about your team (and yourself) this way than by sailing through untroubled waters.
Both working in and managing teams can be very rewarding, however always anticipate that at some point some behaviour will need addressing – and ensure that you can handle it. This awareness of human nature together with a strong positive vision will set you in good store. It is only by being an exceptional communicator yourself that you can handle team dynamics. Very often the outward manifestation of the problem is not the actual cause at all and that, together with volatile and uncommunicative behaviour, makes it difficult to see inside many problems. However, you can only deal with the presenting behaviour until someone explains the detail, and then you need to be aware of the emotional fall out.
Emotions are a natural reaction to many situations so if that is an area where you feel you may come unstuck, find a training course that deals with this so that you feel confident with your own reaction when dealing with conflict resolution.
Ponder on this:
Jane Day works in a large insurance company. The company moved to flexible working some months ago but mostly people sit in the same place they always have done. Jane sits on the right side of the main team area. Sandra Lucas has been on maternity leave for a year and has just returned. While she was away Jane acted up into her position (a promotion) and sat where Sandra did, at the front of the team. Following her maternity leave, Sandra asked to come back for two days a week and this has been accepted with Jane continuing in the acted up position. Sandra has only been back for a month but when she comes in she sits in her ‘old’ position, thereby forcing Jane to sit in her original seat. The seating arrangements should not matter because of the flexible working arrangement, but Jane is furious and has started picking on Sandra. This has now reached a head and an argument is in the air. What would you do?
Donna has been working for J. Salmon Ltd for four years. It is a small company and everyone does very different jobs. Donna deals with customer sales and is very clear about her role. She knows when to hand her work over to the next person and, because she has always operated like this, she does not see the need to change. John Salmon has brought in a new team leader because he wants to expand the business. All the staff have been told is that Andy Fry has joined and will be trying to move the business forward. Andy has come from a background of strong teamwork and believes he is the right man to pull them together and instil a sense of ‘teamliness’. Donna is not impressed and rejects everything Andy has tried to put in place. She does her work but is surly and now cuts herself off from everyone, only speaking when she has to. Andy knows he needs to do something with Donna – but what?
You are aiming for an honest and open team that feels able to manage their own problems within a framework of safety and trust. When you deal with a problem stay calm, be supportive, and in control. Always focus on positive outcomes by keeping one eye on the rainbow.
There are many training courses on Conflict Resolution (or independent facilitators) that will help you (and the team) work through major issues. Help is never far away and as you grow in skills, you will grow in confidence. Here at Sussex Bussiness School, we offer a wide range of accredited Leadership courses a couple of them listed below that deal with Conflict Resolution: