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How do I address team conflict (even if I'm not the manager)

Team Conflict: How to Surface and Discuss Simmering Issues (Video)

by | Sep 16, 2021 | Asking For a Friend Featured, By Karin Hurt, Communication |

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Address Team Conflict Early Before it Erupts into Something Bigger

We all know that when there is team conflict brewing, it’s only a matter of time before it erupts into something bigger.

It’s like families refusing to talk about the tough stuff, and then one day Uncle Joe is throwing the Thanksgiving turkey off the balcony.

Here’s the good news. You don’t need to be the manager to address team conflict (although these techniques will work great for you too!). In this week’s Asking For a Friend, I share some really practical advice on bringing your team together and having much-needed conversations.

3 Ways to Surface and Heal Team Conflict (Even if You’re Not the Manager)

team conflict and how to address it

Here are a few things you can do to surface (and address) the conflict before it does too much destruction.

0:58  1. Talk one-on-one with team members about what you can do to help.

Start humbly. “I really care about this team, our work, and our collective success. I’d like to get some feedback about what I can be doing to better support this team. And, I’d love your thoughts on how we can work more effectively together.

By starting with your own behaviors, you’re more likely to create a psychologically safe environment where others will open up and share their true feelings.

Once you have everyone’s input, you can begin to collect the themes to share with your manager (and the team), as a starting point for a “How can we?” make this better conversation.

1:30 2. Have your team think about their best experiences working on a team

This is a basic appreciative inquiry exercise. But you don’t need to get too fancy. Just ask your manager for a few minutes to do this in your next virtual or in-person team meeting.

Ask your team to reflect on the best team they ever worked on, and why it worked so well. Watch as everyone lightens up and smiles as they share their stories and how it made them feel.

Next, have the team identify the common themes from those stories. What were the characteristics and habits of those high-performing teams, and most importantly, how did they behave?

1:57  3. Ask your team what needs to happen to reach closer to that ideal (get practical.)

Next comes the practical conversation. “How do we do more of that?”

You don’t need a long list. The themes will lead you to the obvious place to start. Work to establish one or two commitments and build from there.

What would you add? How do address conflict on your team (even if you’re not the manager)?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


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