When we read about teams that are successful, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that they are all in perfect harmony, heading in the same direction and effortlessly delivering results. While this might be great in theory, the difficult stuff and conflict is just part and parcel of any successful team.
So what can you do to deal with the difficult stuff in teams?
Make facts the primary focus
In challenging times it is easy to fall into the trap of getting personal, starting to criticise individuals and saying or doing something that you regret later. Facts on the other hand are verifiable, objective and not personal. For example, if there is a report that is showing that the level of sales is falling week after week, this is factual and verifiable. A discussion around the facts is likely to be more productive and beneficial than getting personal and seeking a scapegoat.
Expand the options
Whilst logic might make you think that the fewer options the better, research suggests that it might well be worthwhile expanding the options. Part of the reason for this is that people don’t feel pressurised to back one or the other and be seen to take seconds. It also means that the energies of the team are on solutions not what has gone wrong.
Create a goal everyone can connect to
In most organisations there is one common goal that a team can connect to. Sometimes it might be the client or customer. At other times it might be an innovation or improvement. Once you have people looking at the difficulty through a common agreed lens, conflict can reduce and result focus increased.
Make the decision making process fair
A decision will have to be taken by someone at some point and people accept this as long as they feel that there has been a fair process for reaching decisions. What this means at a practical level is that people feel like they have had their opportunity to put forward their ideas, views and opinions and that there has been open and transparent debate.
Bottom Line – There will always be difficult stuff to deal with when it comes to team working. The key to successful resolution is to avoid it becoming personal.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.