When the success of your office depends on a team dynamic, the experience can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, everyone has different talents to offer, and when communication works smoothly, people's unique abilities can work synergistically and propel your company forward toward its mission. On the other hand, individual personalities may clash during disagreements, which can lead to trouble for HR services if you aren't careful.
Disagreements are almost inevitable, but if you know how to handle conflict among your employees, you can help them rise above the disagreements stronger than ever before.
Help diffuse the tension
Ragan's HR Communication reviewed author Jeffrey Krivis's book, Improvisational Negotiation, and discussed various tips on reducing conflict in the office. The first step is in identifying warning signs, such as the tone of voice and body language that people use while talking. Before people get too frustrated and erupt, divert their attention away from the disagreement and remind them of the overall goal at hand.
To help reach a solution, talk to the people who are in disagreement and ask them to explain their points of view. As they talk, they may become less tense. Additionally, you'll have an opportunity to find out any motivations that individuals have for refusing to compromise. To build cooperation, re-frame the complaints that people have to emphasize what they have in common, and encourage them to continue to work together toward their shared goals.
Build team spirit
Whether you're working with new employees or your team is feeling frayed from recent projects and conflicts, it's important to continue to foster a spirit of cooperation. Demand Media has several suggestions for how you can accomplish this.
Whenever you notice people succeeding in their projects after working together, be sure publicly recognize their accomplishment so that everyone else knows to look to them as an example of how to cooperate. You can do this with some sort of monthly award or monetary incentive.
A major part of getting along together as a team is learning how to have fun as a team. To help keep things light-hearted, try devoting a block of time before each meeting to allow people to share humorous anecdotes about what they've been dealing with at work. You can also create a community posting board for people to share cartoons, fun chain emails or internet memes.
On regular occasions, try scheduling an hour or two to have folks participate in some gameplay, which can not only be fun, but may also encourage cooperation. If you want to spend more time focused on such dynamics, try planning a team vacation, retreat or weekend getaway.