Top Tips for... Coping with conflict and ‘team killers’

11th August, 2017

Top Tips for... Coping with conflict and ‘team killers’

Great team work is at the heart of any good business. A team who are really passionate about what they do and who want to do a good job for their clients as well as their colleagues and boss, is a real asset. An effective team will communicate well, support and mentor each other and are creative and forward thinking. But a team will often flounder if they lose focus of their common goals or if they don’t feel valued. 

Here are our top tips for dealing with any ‘team killers’ you may come across. 

1. Work effectively as a team 

Problems are less likely to arise if you begin to work effectively as a team from the beginning with one goal in mind, rather than individual ambitions getting in the way. A good team member is someone who is a good listener – they can consider different viewpoints and can understand and absorb ideas from others. A good team player will take an active role, rather than passively coast along. They will come well prepared for meetings and have lots of ideas and will think of ways to overcome problems. They are flexible, cooperative and pitch in to help others. 

2. Communicate well 

A lack of engagement and communication within a team can often lead to disagreements. Good communication should inspire your team as well as inform them. There should be clear direction from senior colleagues or those in management positions but also between individuals within your team. You need to work out how this can be done well. For example, by holding regular team meetings, by setting up dedicated email accounts to share information smoothly, by having creating ‘think tank’ sessions or easy ways to flag any issues promptly. 

3. Invest in shared goals 

Your team members are more likely to succeed and perform well if they have shared ambitions and goals. It’s about creating a common identity rather than falling back into stereotypes about the kind of work you may normally do. A good goal should be something that stretches the team, but it also needs to be attainable. When setting goals for you and your team, make sure it’s something that really inspires and motivates them and will result in something meaningful.   

4. Inspire your team  

If your team doesn't feel inspired about the challenges ahead and the potential impact your work could have, then it won’t be successful or rewarding.  To help prevent any conflicts arising, you should make time for more informal discussions and for the team to explore creative ideas, which in turn will lead to a more strategic way forward. Why not arrange a team away day where you can have more informal discussions and get to know each other better? You also need to think about how you might reward your team for achieving any successful milestones so they continue to feel valued.  

5. Trust each other 

If individual team members don’t trust each other, then just like any relationship, it won’t work. Trust is only generally developed over time by colleagues who see first-hand the skills, abilities and personal attributes in each other they admire. But trust can be developed quickly if you show the right enthusiasm, attitude and positivity for the task in hand. If your team is working on a temporary project, then you could develop trust by highlighting why you have brought specific people together and what skills they have to offer their colleagues. By showing your team they are the ‘best of the best’ and that you as a manager or team leader have faith in them, then team members will no doubt start from a positon of trust and respect too.

6. Be positive  

Peer support is really important to help your team stay motivated and enthusiastic. Being around negative people who are looking for problems will bring you down and have you focusing on all the wrong things. Teaming up with people you know have a positive and inclusive attitude and those who will channel their energy into something productive will help avoid any conflict. Setting up a great team is often more about selecting people with the right attitude and work ethic rather than just the right skills. 

7. Deal with personal issues effectively 

Not everything runs smoothly all of the time and disagreements about how things should be done are part of any team’s characteristics. A good team will know how to deal with any challenges with each other well. They will care about the issues they face but be able to not take it personally. They will be able to think constructively how to handle the problem and ensure the wider team learn from any mistakes or issues. To help prevent any personal conflict it’s wise to hear people’s ideas first before making snap judgements and, if things are not working out, to talk them through with a mediator to resolve them amicably before they derail your project.  

Steve Hinton has been an Executive Leadership Coach for more than 20 years and is able to add value to organisations through a combination of business knowledge and an understanding of how to develop a successful leadership team. Contact Steve on or call +44(0)1302 746430.

Other Top Tips Articles:

Preparing to take a break from work
Spotting stress and dealing with it
Helping teams that are stuck

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Steve HintonWritten by Steve Hinton

Steve Hinton is an experienced Executive Coach and Consultant working with Chief Executives, Managing Directors, Senior Executives and other leaders and can work with you to create exceptional and successful leadership teams.

Contact Steve for an informal chat, and take the first step toward your team's super success!