Do Effective Teams Have Conflict?

Teams consist of people. And people, by nature, are different.

Distinctive personalities, values and perceptions impact the attitudes and behaviours of individuals in a team.

Often, where there is difference, room for conflict increases, in the form of:

  • Task conflict: disagreements over what the team is supposed to accomplish.

  • Relationship conflict: disagreements between members that have become personal.

  • Process conflicts: disagreements over how the team should go about its work.

This is inevitable, regardless of the size and scope of the business.

Many of us have been conditioned to perceive conflict negatively, which is true when that conflict is correlated to unresolved issues of communication, role identity, inequality, exclusion etc.

However, it can also be a positive force. In fact, conflict can be a catalyst, rather than a hindrance, to growth and improvement in teams.

The key lies in:

1. Understanding its nature

Conflict is a process of people disagreeing, and as we’ve said, it is inevitable in the workplace. However, they range from minor to major, in severity, occurrence and implications. It is this range that is key in revealing whether the conflict at hand is detrimental or favourable. Is there tension because there are multiple ways to approach the task or because someone feels insulted? Is the bickering due to stress or is it a constant argument? Analyse the situation carefully and you’ll gain a lot of insight.