The Self-Awareness Guy

Team Building, Conflict Resolution and Your Leadership

Leaders often tolerate conflict as a normal part of workplace interactions.  This can lead to workplaces where everyone is simply trying to survive and there isn't much team building or cohesion.  Many leaders and employees view chronic, habitual conflict as normal.  People are allowed to cut each other down, make hurtful comments or threaten each other (overtly or more subtly) while leaders look on and admire their energy and camaraderie.

Traditionally, many of our workplaces have been rough and tumble zones where only the fittest survive.  This dynamic tends to sap productivity and morale over time because only a few people thrive and the remainder get demoralized.  Our predecessors might have been unable to envision a workplace that didn't encourage conflict but we can.

We have the ability to create kinder workplaces where people have the opportunity to work well together and build positive work environments.  We can fight less and face our challenges united.  In the past, we let conflict fester and permeate our workplaces but now we have tools to actually fix things.

Some practical elements you can think about when workplace conflict arises include:

  • What is the problem really about?
  • Do you know what each employee thinks about the problem?
  • Have you all worked together to come up with possible solutions?
  • Is everyone's voice listened to and given equal weight?
  • Does everyone know how to listen to other points of view?
  • Can people deal with conflict without escalating?
  • Is conflict an opportunity for change in your workplace?
  • How are your communication skills?
  • Do you have a consistent system for resolving conflict?
  • Do you ask for help from neutral, uninvolved third parties?

Team building and conflict resolution in the workplace depend on you as a leader.  You decide whether your workplace advances without direction or follows a more productive path.  Consider the following ideas for your workplace:

  • Develop a clear, concise conflict resolution strategy that is taught and followed at all levels.
  • Build productive, two-way communication skills by teaching your employees how to communicate effectively.
  • Highlight the importance of listening skills and teach everyone how to listen to each other.
  • Practice team building by giving everyone the framework and tools to collaborate.
  • Set a positive example by behaving in ways that support team building, conflict resolution and collaboration.

These concepts help leaders and organizations resolve conflicts more effectively and build happier organizations.  The only catch is that they take commitment but, those who take the plunge and build up these core skills, enjoy long-term health and success.  What will you do to help your teams reduce conflict?



0 thoughts on “Team Building, Conflict Resolution and Your Leadership

  1. Anonymous

    How do you go about fixing problems in a family when one of the members has depression. It’s hard to talk things out with her because she is so defensive and the fact is that most of the times she is the root of the problem. You can’t say that to her because of the depression. How does one put an end to this viscous cycle?

  2. Guy Farmer

    A couple of ideas come to mind that help families deal with challenges.
    1. Encourage the person to seek professional treatment for depression separate from the family. Let the person know that the family supports them 100% on any treatment they seek and that no one will interfere or pass judment.
    2. As a family, work with a therapist or coach to learn how to create a dynamic that allows all members to talk about any situation that arises. Families can learn communication skills and ways to talk about even the most difficult subjects by working with a neutral, outside person that helps everyone get on the same page.

    Hope that helps,


  3. K

    Thank you for the tips. I have a team I work with in a school. How do you establish team work and help develop listening skills? I have one member who in particular thinks her opinion is the only one that matters. She has demonstrated an unwilligness to work with others trying to take too much on herself becuase she doesn’t want to loose control of situations. This is also difficult as her position means that she is not the leader but should be following the teacher’s leadership and direction. I would appreciate any input and resources/book suggestions.

    thank you for your time

    1. Self-Awareness Post author

      Great question, I’m glad you’re thinking of ways to improve the situation. I’ve found it helpful to move the focus from one person to the whole group, as in teaching everyone skills that will bring them together. Emphasize skills like active listening and sharing stories. The key to successfully interrupting the pattern that’s been going on is to offer ongoing training. One workshop usually doesn’t have a lasting effect, it’s the continuous practice that eventually helps people get on the same page. Think of it as a long-term project where you gradually shift the exisiting behavior pattern to a more positive one. Please feel free to browse some of my blog posts on effective training, communication, leadership, listening and team building for practical ideas you can implement in your workplace. Take care, Guy.