Identifying and Resolving Conflict - [website] Email Print
Published: 10th of Jun 2019 by: Carolyn Kessler

Without a doubt, conflict is part of our everyday lives. There's no way to avoid it, and nor should you. Sounds counter-intuitive doesn't it?

Actually, conflict is neither good nor bad, it’s the way we handle it that's good or bad. Conflict in its purest form arises from people holding differing views. We want people to hold different views because there's tremendous potential in a diversity of thinking, that's why shutting down conflict as a knee-jerk reaction can prevent growth taking place on a team.

So instead of seeking to prevent conflict at all costs, team leaders should identify the reason it's arisen and hone in on that area to assess exactly what the underlying issue is. I say that, because it's seldom the issue which smacks one in the face that’s the root cause - with Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, it's highly possible you can dig down and find something completely different is causing this fire.

Please understand that people don't fight about stuff they don't care about. An absence of passion will pretty much guarantee a low to non-existent level of conflict or differing ideas on a team. An apathetic, uninspired team simply won't care enough.

Am I saying that conflict is good? Well, actually, what I am saying is that there are good aspects to conflict which can be surfaced and effectively exploited if the conflict is managed, as opposed to avoided altogether.

Managing conflict requires a team leader to understand which of the four phases the team is currently operating in; if it's the storming phase, conflict is a natural by-product and an indication that your team is moving towards the norming, and finally, the performing phases. This is healthy growth.

It becomes unhealthy when a team leader isn’'t properly trained to understand and work with the four phases of team growth. Without this knowledge, the leader will be ill-equipped to capitalise on the storming phase whilst moving their team through this effectively and timeously. If they are skilled, they will recognise potential conflict, analyse it and use it as an opportunity for growth – they will move from a potentially destructive confrontational situation to one where open healthy debate is encouraged. In doing so, they will be teaching those on their team how to accept and encourage different thinking without losing sight of their individuality. And in a manner that lends itself to gaining rather than sabotaging co-operation because it's no longer perceived as a threat.

So conflict itself is not the problem, it's the lack of skill in identifying and handling it which is the problem. Don't let your team or team leaders flounder, lose productivity and ultimately fail, for a lack of knowledge. We host an incredibly comprehensive and 'real' Conflict Prevention and Resolution course as well a workshop dedicated to Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Give us a call today.

Staff Training is a soft skills training company offering more than 60 short courses including a suite of management and leadership options. Find out more here.


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