Managing team conflict typically involves working with team members who have varying opinions, backgrounds and experience to resolve differences. When you have multiple teams working on a project, this complicates the situation even more. You can reduce tension and dissension by proactively scheduling team-building meetings that focus on conflict resolution skills. For example, conduct role-playing exercises that help people practice acknowledging the conflict, understanding the situation and reaching agreement. Handling inter-group conflict in a decisive manner prevents disagreements from disrupting work further.

Preventing Conflict

Preventing disruptive conflict involves establishing an environment characterized by trust and respect. When an inter-group project starts, schedule a kickoff meeting and invite all the team members. Since some conflict is inevitable, discuss the need for creating a comprehensive process for resolving inter-group issues. Brainstorm possibilities and agree upon a decision-making strategy and communicate it to all the teams. For example, distribute a checklist that lists the tips for solving inter-group conflict within teams. This gives people the tools they need to develop the skills associated with respecting others who have different ideas, opinions and experiences.


To resolve inter-group conflict, start by acknowledging it. When you ignore issues and avoid confrontation, it tends to cause problems to fester. Instead, openly discuss the impact that conflict has on inter-group team productivity. For example, if differences of opinion prevent good communication, work may not flow from one process to the next in a timely manner, impacting project milestones. Lead by example and keep communications open. Use active listening skills to understand both sides of any issue. This involves paraphrasing or repeating back what the other person has said so you make sure that you truly demonstrate understanding.


To understand ongoing issues, schedule regular meetings and invite all the teams. Allow each team leader to provide an update on issues. Then, allow time for discussion. This gives the whole group an opportunity to air grievances and work on resolutions. Prevent issues from becoming personal by focusing on the problems, not the person raising the issues. Avoid personal attacks and pay attention to the work at hand instead. Clarify each team's position when inter-group conflict arises. If you can clearly identify and articulate the issue, the problem can be discussed more objectively. List facts and assumptions associated with each point of view. Then, the group can begin to consider alternative solutions.


To reach agreement on a problem resolution, encourage everyone involved to keep an open mind. Analyze the issue from several angles to get a broad perspective. This approach typically leads to innovative and creative solutions that all teams can feel good about. Engage a facilitator to handle volatile discussions between groups. An impartial mediator can help diffuse tempers and help all parties reach a solution faster. Celebrate resolution and acknowledge the contributions made by each team member. This helps build long-lasting relationships. Team members gain confidence in their ability to negotiate, influence and debate issues for a positive outcome. This reduces future conflict and improves overall productivity.