managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams

Managing Relationship Conflict & Effectiveness of Organizational Teams

Managing Relationship Conflict and the Effectiveness of Work Teams

Getting your team to gel and synergize can be very challenging. There can be unproductive conflict between members. Some may dominate meetings, others withhold their views. How do you move toward creating high performance teams?  We’ll explore 3 tactics, their pros and cons, and determine which is your best approach. Then, when you are faced with managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams, you will have a good start on what to do.

The Situation

You head up an R & D team for a software development firm. Each Monday morning, you gather your seven direct reports together to go over the status of projects in the pipeline.

Team Conflict

Your team members represent a mix of behaviors. It seems like the group is constantly arguing over solutions — not necessarily  productive arguments, but stalemates that can result in gridlock.

I Don’t Want to Speak

Ironically, the second problem is a lack of participation by some members. They tend to let the boisterous members prevail, even though the reticent ones are equally capable people.

How Do You Encourage Member Participation and Productive Conflict?

These problems cannot be allowed to continue, since R & D is the source of most of the company’s direction. Business will suffer, and your position could be on the line if your group can’t function more productively. How should you deal with managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams?

Your Choices:

Click the best answer below. Our answer will then highlight with an explanation below.
A. Set up criteria to follow and call on each member to give responses.

Creating High Performance Teams

Dimensional Model of Behavior


Set up Meeting Guidelines. Involve Each Team Member in the Conversation

Choice A is the best course of action for a Q4 team leader. You may feel it is too controlling to impose this degree of authority. However, under these circumstances, the leader needs to provide more direction — that is, to facilitate the group to accomplish its tasks.

To allow stubborn bickering to prevail is shirking responsibility for keeping the group productive. It’s Q2 passive leadership. The same is true for not encouraging full participation. And giving more structure does not cross over into Q1 dominance or taking over.

Setting up criteria and standards puts everyone on the same page and drives the group with more purpose toward making decisions without straitjacketing the team’s thinking. Then, calling on each member to respond — not an unreasonable request for this group — will promote engagement without any recriminations or finger pointing. Choice A is your best strategy in this situation to move toward creating high performance teams.

Tell the Team They Need to Get Their Act Together

It is certainly within the realm of Q4 engagement to rally the troops to perform better as a group. However, when managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams, Choice A is far superior. It’s better to lead by engagement, rather than by wagging the finger of blame. Whereas Choice B focuses on the consequences of failure, Choice A leads from the rear and improves the process. This, in turn, should improve behavior.

Speak One on One to Problem Team Member

Again, a responsible leader could talk about changing individuals’ behavior, but that works better if you have one person whose performance in the group needs improvement. With Choice C, the logistics of having four or five separate conversations could be a problem.

Also, when creating high performing teams, it’s not wise to have too many outside conversations as a team leader. If your message is different from member to member, or if members want to talk about other members to you, you’ll get into counter-productive gossip and intrigue.

B. Talk to the entire team about getting their act together.

 No, please try again.

C. Speak individually to those who need to change their behavior.

 No, please try again.

Your Next Steps

So you are now a master of managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams. Now what?

If you would like to progress further re teams, you might enjoy our team articles and whitepapers.  Also, have you read the classic book, The Discipline of Teams by Jon Katzenbach?  Highly recommended.

Our team scorecard looks at how your team is functioning in 12 key areas, and shows you where it is doing well, and where there might be opportunities for higher performance. You or we can then delve into 1 or 2 of those areas to work on them. For more info, see our team services page, and contact us.

If you would like to progress in your leadership skills, our leadership development area offers leadership workshops, coaching, 360 surveys, as well as a bevy of articles, white papers, and case studies on becoming a better leader.

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