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How to Manage a Team of Conflicting Personalities

September 28th, 2012

A wise person once said “If two people running a business always agree, then one of them is unnecessary.”

Conflict often seems painful or uncomfortable when it flares up and stands in the way of progress. And human feelings are a very real, and often sensitive, aspect of life in the business world. But if you view conflict as an essential obstacle that needs to be overcome or eliminated altogether, it might be wise to adjust your mindset in the interest of protecting and growing you company.

Though conflict stands in the way of progress, it also lies at the heart of progress, and a variety of personalities and opposing viewpoints are necessary if we’re interested in gaining a more complete picture of complex situation. Don’t be afraid to disagree, and don’t be alarmed if you manage a team that sometimes runs full speed into personality impasses. Embrace this challenge and take advantage of the lessons it provides. Here are a few things to consider when you encounter a seemingly insurmountable workplace clash.

1. Be fair. If you’re in a management position, this means listen carefully to each side in equal measure.

2. Don’t rush or force an easy answer just to end the conflict. Let the two sides battle it out on their own for a little while before you step in as a referee. Both players are adults, so they’re not unfamiliar with tension and disagreement. Let them exercise their hard-earned negotiation skills. Place some trust in their ability to make clear, well-reasoned points, recognize their own logical errors, and stand up for their opinions.

3. Take backgrounds and communication styles into account. If one of your team members is a peacemaker and the other has a tendency to bluster and bully, don’t let this pattern determine the outcome of the conflict. Use your intervention to balance the strengths and weaknesses of each side.

4. Try not to let personal issues play a role in business decisions. If the two conflicting sides are also involved in an outside battle that has nothing to do with the issue at hand, help them recognize this, compartmentalize their feelings, and stay focused on the best interests of the company.

5. Act as a translator if one side clearly doesn’t understand the other’s points or point of view.

6. If the resolution of the conflict ultimately falls to you, stay cool-headed, focused on the long term future, diplomatic, and just. Whether your final decision leads to success or not, make sure you encourage an atmosphere of fair and responsible argument. Don’t punish your team members or become annoyed with them simply because they disagreed. Instead, praise them for facing their disagreement boldly and doing their best to overcome it.

For more help with conflict management in the workplace, reach out the Connecticut staffing experts at Merritt Recruiting Company in Fairfield County and arrange a consultation. We can provide the business management and negotiation skills you need to make the most of your diverse teams.

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