How to resolve conflict in your team

How to resolve conflict in your team

From passive-aggressive disputes on email to blazing rows in real life, conflict can come in all shapes and sizes in the often-hectic environment of a growing business.



Apart from being super unpleasant for those involved, if discord is left to fester, you can expect a severe hit on your business’ culture, productivity and employee motivation. In the absence of a dedicated HR team, the onus will fall on you to play an active role in conflict resolution – and hit the right balance between micromanaging and being too hands-off. Time to put on that mediating hat.

  1. Spot the signs

    Look out for early signs that might require your input – eg, angry or passive-aggressive words and body language in individuals, cliques forming and meetings that are abandoned.

  2. Don’t wait around

    Call out disruptive behaviour as it happens, or book in a meeting to go through task-specific disagreements. If you let conflict fester, it’ll morph into something much harder to resolve.

  3. Meet with each individual

    Meet informally to let them know you’ve noticed an issue, and get their go-ahead to try to fix it. Encourage each employee to vocalize things they’d be reluctant to with the other people there. However, don’t scope out solutions just yet.

  4. Schedule a meeting with both sides

    Get everyone together, making time limits and ground rules clear from the very start. Remember to explain your own position as a mediator.

  5. Figure out the problem

    Allow each person to recount their perspective and viewpoint, zoning in on what’s fact and what’s emotion or assumption. Practice active listening throughout and summarize what’s been said.

  6. Figure out the solution

    Moving towards a solution should be a collaborative process – discuss the different outcomes, establishing a list of tangible things that will change. Reassert your business’ goals, values and other common ground as a framework. Make sure both sides actively agree to the next steps.

  7. Follow up

    At the end of the meeting, thank team members for their contributions. Check-in with each group to ensure nothing was left unsaid and that they’re getting on with their list of actions.

  8. Make the right organizational changes

    Did this conflict expose flaws in the working system that can be changed? Think of what measures you can bring in to avoid similar grievances emerging again.