5 Tips for Preventing Unproductive Team Conflict

September 11, 2014 by  

Healthy competition within a team can be a motivating force, however it can also cause conflict that can tear groups apart. Finding just the right balance can move a team from mediocre to sensational. However, the competitive desire to succeed and win can drive some to cheat. We have all experienced having an idea shared casually in the staff lounge, later presented by someone else as theirs.

So how do successful teams spin competition into innovation?
1. Start with the right team:
Building complementary, collaborative teams of individuals is the best way to prevent conflict before it begins. Introduce assessments to develop a team with diversity in both personalities and skills.
2. Celebrate differences:
Diversity can bring strength and innovation to the team. It can actually boost individual confidence and encourage collaboration. When employees recognize and leverage the differences in the group, they will experience less friction in their collaborative efforts. Diverse perspectives create more problem solving opportunities and more unique outcomes. Encourage experienced team members to share their expertise with younger employees and younger employees to teach older generations about social media and new technologies.
3. Share common goals:
A high performance team needs more than just the right chemistry they also require the alignment of common goals. These goals need to be clearly defined to be certain everyone is on the same page. With all eyes on the final goal, team members will be less likely to get caught up in short term disputes.
4. Capitalize on individual strengths:
Effective teams know how to combine individual results into a successful group effort. Maintaining a healthy dose of competition keeps a project from stagnating. Inevitably, somebody will come up with a better idea or get the work done before others. Focus these individual achievements into a strong drive for higher accomplishments for everyone. Team members with the right skills will see how their individual strengths can enhance another team member’s idea….improving the final outcome for everyone.
5. Establish team checkpoints:
Measuring progress along the way provides value to that original goal. This approach helps the team continue to share the same goal but also allows for re-evaluation if necessary. Checkpoints give team members an opportunity to voice their concerns throughout the project. Keep in mind these are team checkpoints, are not individual progress reports. Successful teams appreciate that the desired outcome is dependent upon the collaborative sum total of everyone’s contribution.

Strong teams are composed of a diverse group of individuals with specific roles all working toward the same goals. Along the way they are able to solve problems, resolve conflict and accomplish those goals. They recognize that each member has a valuable purpose to perform and know that they could not accomplish their team project alone. Unlike rival companies, team members can channel competition into mutual gain. Using diversity to drive success takes competition from conflict to innovation.

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