Conflict is normal in settings involving people with different backgrounds, principles, and beliefs. That is why it may be unavoidable in the workplace sometimes. Not all members of a team share the same personalities, so misunderstandings and disagreements in any small business organizational structure are always a possibility.
Managing A Remote Team
Handling a team can be challenging. It does not matter whether the company has a physical office space or a remote setup—employees will eventually encounter problems with their colleagues.
However, according to an expert on organizational behavior, virtual teams have more conflicts than those who have face-to-face encounters. Additionally, their disagreements are more likely to escalate. Possible reasons for this include the following:
- Lack of communication cues
- Inability to check in-person signals such as body language and tone of voice
- Less personal communication
- Loss of context
Conflict Resolution In A Remote Team
Generally, there is no such thing as a perfect small business organizational structure. That is why conflict may happen to all teams, even virtual ones.
Even if a company thinks it has taken all the necessary steps to avoid conflict, it may still happen. The challenge lies in how the company reacts to the situation. How will it resolve the problem?
Fortunately, doing this is not as complicated as one may think. Here are some ways to manage conflict in remote teams:
- Checking The Small Business Organizational Structure – Companies need a strong organization structure that will define hierarchy and create a unified company message that will be beneficial to the company. However, it is essential to maintain a robust framework to help in identifying and dealing with issues.
For example, creating departments may trigger an us-versus-them mentality between groups. The logistics team may have problems with manufacturing because the goods are not being produced fast enough to meet deadlines. Departments and different teams may feel that their work is more essential in achieving success compared to what other groups do.
What the company can do is to properly communicate the roles of each department. All teams should also be aware of what every employee does and how that affects the company’s operations.
- Ensuring Clear And Timely Communications – Communication may be more challenging for remote teams. That is why the company may have to take extra steps in ensuring proper communication.
While a conflict may eventually die down, it may have a long-term impact on the relationships of team members. Making sure that the involved parties talk about the issue and settle their differences can help. That is also an opportunity to understand where each of them is coming from and what caused the conflict.
For example, talking on the phone can help them hear the other’s tone, and having a video call gives access to visual cues. These may be more effective in resolving conflict compared to communicating through email, which is more prone to misinterpretations.
- Asking The Team Members – Even though team members may not bring up the existence of a conflict, most managers are able to sense it. If you happen to suspect that there is an unexplained tension among team members, the best thing to do is to directly ask them about it. Doing this will not only help find out what the issue is but also gives an idea as to what caused it in the first place. Here are some questions you can start with:
· I sense that there is something wrong. Have you had some sort of disagreement?
· What made you feel negative about that colleague?
· What do you think is the best approach?
· How does this affect the job?
Having a workplace open to these kinds of discussions can help team members feel safe in answering such questions honestly. It will also give them a reason to trust the company’s ability to manage conflicts.
Another way to prevent certain conflicts from happening again is to always confirm if every team member is in agreement after a virtual meeting. Since it may be harder to read the room that way, it may be best to verify with each member that they understand what is happening, what they have to do, and the goals of the company.
Companies that have chosen to shift to a work-from-home setup may be facing new challenges even with the existence of a small business organizational structure. That includes the occurrence of conflicts that can be otherwise prevented in face-to-face interactions.
Dealing with conflict is not something pleasant for any company. However, disagreements may be hard to avoid. Recognizing conflict and knowing what to do to resolve them can help the employees and the company as well.