How to Handle Team Member Conflict

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Diversity among team members may be good for productivity but at the same time may also cause conflict. Conflict among members of any team is to be expected from time to time. Even people who get along most of the time will disagree at some point. How you choose to handle situations like this as a manager or team leader greatly influences the outcome. A few simple strategies can keep conflict in check and keep the team working toward its goal.

Determine the cause of the conflict. It might be a problem between team members or just a temporary situation that is causing the problem. Ask probing questions to get to the bottom of things. Encourage communication from the team members in a positive manner that does not accuse or blame others. Once you know the problem, it will be easier to come up with a solution.

Clarify expectations and the needs of the team or project. Explain the needs of the team to work together to accomplish goals; to do that, everyone must be in agreement. Deadlines are important to the business and it important that everyone works to his best ability. Each team member has an important job and must meet the expectations of the team and management.

Develop a strategy or plan for dealing with the problem or situation. Call a team meeting and introduce some strategies for dealing with the situation and how this type of conflict could be avoided in the future. Some strategies include getting the team members involved in some decision making and allowing members to vote on ideas or offer suggestions on how they can improve. Role playing is an effective tool for getting people to talk and see the other's point of view.

Implement the plan or solution to solve the problem. It may be as simple as setting down some rules or guidelines concerning employee relations or work procedures. In some cases, disciplinary action may be necessary, especially if there are ongoing problems. Make it clear what is expected and that anyone not following the rules will be given a warning and face consequences if things do not change.

Bring in a mediator. If all attempts to solve the problem fail, it may be necessary to bring in a neutral party to try to offer helpful advice. This could be a manager or supervisor or even a paid professional with experience in negotiations.

Get everyone back on track. Once the problem has been addressed and dealt with, everyone needs to get back on track. Give everyone a break to relax and relieve the stress of the moment and be ready to tackle the job at hand upon returning to work.


  • A good way to minimize conflicts is to look for ways to avoid them in the first place. When choosing individuals to work together, always consider the temperament of the team members involved. Two opposite personalities will clash, but like-minded people will work well together.


About the Author

Lisa Musser is a freelance writer specializing in health and beauty information. She attended Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz. and began a career as a freelance writer in 2008 after spending five years in the health-care field as a certified nursing assistant.

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