Thursday, January 14, 2010

Executive Leadership Training - Resolving Destructive Team Conflict

When you are building teams, it is inevitable that team conflict is going to occur. Team conflict can be good and it can be destructive.

As part of your executive leadership training, you want to learn how to know the difference between good and destructive team conflict and how to resolve conflict that is destructive.

Team conflict is good when there is a diversity of thoughts and ideas. This usually leads to better solutions and outcomes. However, there is team conflict that is destructive to the productivity and effectiveness of the team.

This destructive team conflict occurs when the conflict is interfering with the team reaching its goals. Left unaddressed, destructive conflict could escalate to the point where it has a major negative impact on the team. So the question becomes, what is the best course of action you can take when destructive team conflict occurs?

It is natural to adopt the philosophy of relying on the conflicting parties to work the problem out among themselves. After all, we're all adults, right? The problem with that approach is that while it sounds good in theory, in practice it simply doesn't work out that easily.

The fact that the conflict has escalated to the point of impeding team progress shows that the parties lack the capacity to work it out without intervention or training and development on how to resolve the conflict.

The first step to resolve destructive team conflict is to get to the root cause of the conflict. In most cases conflict has to do with the conflicting sides wanting to be right about something.

Human beings have a fundamental need to be right and sometimes that need to be right can cause the real issues to be blurred. Therefore, you as the leader will need to bring the conflicting factions together to talk through what is the "real" issue.

You will also want to keep the overall team goals as the main focus of the conversation. Conflicting parties can usually agree that they have the same goal in mind just different ways to go about reaching the goal.

Understanding behavioral styles can help prevent destructive feedback. Everyone has a natural behavioral style or a way they like to go about doing things. Behavior styles will conflict with different behavioral styles.

Therefore, if your team recognizes and understands the different behavioral styles of the team members it can go a long way in preventing conflict from being destructive.

Of course the first step is to understand one's own behavioral style. Understanding your own behavioral style helps you to appreciate another's behavioral style. Then it is much easier to see where potential conflict could occur.

There is an old saying "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This saying is very true when it comes to teams working together to achieve goals.

Therefore, it is imperative that when team conflict occurs, there are steps taken to address the conflicting issues and resolve them. Allowing conflicts to go unresolved is literally like a cancer that can destroy a team and eventually an organization.

By : Shari_Roth

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