What To Do When Conflict Arises On Your Team

Managers are charged with much more than just managing their team’s work. They’re also charged with overseeing the personalities that make up that team. People clash, and conflicts arise no matter how well-assembled a team may be.

Conflict is not bad, and the process of working through conflict can lead to innovative ideas and more outstanding communication and bonding between team members. Understanding what to do when conflicts arise and how to help the team figure out how to get through the issues and work together positively is vital. As your team manager, it’s up to you to find ways to approach conflict and handle it proactively and positively, allowing the conflict to stimulate growth rather than squash it.

So, how can you help your team manage their own conflicts and be prepared to mediate if needed? Read on for some tips on how to practice positive conflict management.

Tips for Handling Conflict on Your Team

First, avoid becoming a referee and encourage your team members to work things out independently. It can be easy for team members to come to you seeking resolution; once you do it, this will continue to be an expectation. Always be prepared to get involved and consider beforehand how involved you want to be.

In some cases, a manager’s involvement is necessary to resolve the conflict. Suppose it involves inappropriate behavior, from lying about work to harassing a coworker. In that case, you have to address those issues immediately and handle them entirely in accordance with company policies and procedures, as well as all legal matters.

Preventing Conflict

The best way to handle conflict is to prevent it. Start by laying the groundwork for your team’s conflict resolution style from the first day. This is the ideal time to explain your boundaries as a manager regarding conflicts and that conflict is natural and should be expected. Also, tell your team that professional resolution is the expectation but be clear that you are available to support and coach them through it as needed.

Another way to encourage bonding and discourage conflict within your team is to help members get to know one another better. When team members understand each other better, it can eliminate some of the little things that often lead to conflict, such as lateness of contact preferences.

Be Proactive

If you spot conflict arising, act. Take the time to speak to the team members privately, telling them that you take the conflict seriously and will support them as they resolve the issue. Signs of imminent conflict can be subtle, so be aware of how your team interacts. Things to watch for include:

  • Body Language (crossed arms, leaning away from others)
  • Facial Expressions (gazing down, frowning)
  • Tone of Voice (dismissive, disparaging, or rude way of speaking)

Resolving Conflict

If a conflict arises, begin by acknowledging the conflict and encouraging your team members to do so as well. Have your team members take some time to cool off and think through their next course of action. Taking a step back and calming down can prevent many destructive behaviors, including:

  • Defensive attitudes
  • Complaining
  • Assumptions
  • Insults
  • Ultimatums

Encourage your team members to clarify their positions on the issue and break it down, examining both sides of the conflict and getting all facts and assumptions in order to keep it fair. Let everyone present their take on the issue and share their unique perspectives. It is crucial that everyone involved in a conflict, as well as other members of the team, have the opportunity to state their case and be listened to.

When You Need to Step In

If the team members cannot resolve the situation, you may need to take a more direct role. Follow these five steps:

  1. Speak to team members one-on-one.
  2. Bring the parties together, with you as moderator, and have a conversation.
  3. Ask for their input if the conflict affects the whole team.
  4. Draw up a plan of action for the parties to reconcile and get both parties to commit to it.
  5. Follow up on the situation and work through lingering issues.


Conflicts are natural when you have a diverse group of people working together. Address issues proactively, be impartial and step in only when needed, and most importantly, be patient with your team members as they work to resolve their conflicts.

Constructive conflict and resolution bring the whole team closer together if appropriately handled. By practicing basic conflict management skills as outlined above, you can deal with many issues before they become severe and help build and maintain a robust and healthy environment for your team.

Are you looking to grow your team? Vector Talent Resources is ready to help you find the qualified candidates you need. Whether you’re looking to expand your team or improve your workplace diversity, we can help you out. Contact Vector Talent Resources today!

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