Managing conflict is quite tricky in the workplace but it’s a very useful skill for leaders and managers to have.
Throw in the strain of working remotely and conflict can become quite the problem if not dealt with properly.
Without face-to-face interactions, one wrongly worded email or slack message in the wrong thread can set off a disaster among co-workers.
Conflict is unavoidable in the workplace, but it needs to be managed and resolved, or else it becomes a much bigger problem.
Sometimes, conflict can be a good thing. It allows people to speak their minds and point out issues they think should be addressed.
Table of Contents
1. Get Everyone On The Same Page
When working with teams and groups in person, it can be quite a challenge to ensure everyone understands the project and where they fit in to get things done.
In remote environments, it can be a whole different beast. Employees often feel even more disconnected, and misinformation and confusion can spread like wildfire.
Remote work can sometimes be challenging, especially without services that make the whole process more efficient. Services like Can I Work From Here, help people gain skills and understanding about remote working.
When working with people in virtual spaces, over-asking and over-confirming are crucial methods of ensuring nothing gets misunderstood over text or email.
2. Team Agreements
Creating team agreements ensures no conflict arises regarding certain aspects of your work and gets everyone on the team to agree on the project.
When setting up a team agreement, you can lay out questions that need answers as to how the project or tasks will proceed.
What information do you need for projects or tasks? Who communicates to who? And who does what? These are useful questions to answer.
When working with remote teams, assumptions and confusion can lead to absolute chaos. Team agreements aim to reduce this as much as possible.
Reducing assumptions on information, collaboration, and communication will save so much time that would’ve been spent on conflict or confusion.
3. Company Mentality Even With Remote Work
Remote work culture will be different from working in a company building since it can be difficult to create a work environment at home.
So it’s crucial to maintain company values and a workplace mentality when your employees are working from home.
Just because employees are working away from the office doesn’t mean company values and practices fall away.
Managing an online reputation in a small business can be a struggle. With employees who work remotely, maintaining a sense of business and the image of a company can be a challenge.
Keeping employees in a company mentality is a key factor in keeping everyone together as a company, ensuring they understand that work still needs to get done.
Holding daily meetings where individuals stand and share is a great way to ensure everyone stays work-focused.
In this meeting, everyone shares the work they’ve already done, what challenges they may face and what they plan to do for the day.
4. Solve Problems ASAP
Conflict doesn’t necessarily start with shouting and curse words. Conflict often begins on a smaller scale, with minor differences.
These minor differences or small conflicts build over time and develop into much bigger problems if they’re not solved immediately.
Being the leader of the team or group means being proactive in resolving conflict. You need to understand where people are having issues and how you can resolve the problem.
The conflict escalates quickly, and bad situations can get out of control. Aim to solve problems as soon as possible, or try to prevent them from starting in the first place.
5. Check Up On Individuals And Teams
Remote teams and workers require more attention than those in the office. With remote working, things get very disconnected.
Checking up on individuals and teams ensures that everyone gets the attention they need. It also helps you determine if crews are working well together.
Individuals may get bored and burnt out working from home every day or may even start slacking due to the more relaxed environment.
By doing regular checkups in private or in open spaces such as meetings, depending on the situation, one can make employees feel seen and heard.
It’s always good to note that checkups and private conversations, checking in on employees, should always be done professionally.
6. Set Clear Roles, Responsibilities, and Boundaries
In remote teams and groups in general, everything needs to be clear and understood by everyone involved.
Setting clear boundaries, roles, and responsibilities ensures that everyone knows what they’re there to do.
For some, remote work may be a new environment or concept, so it couldn’t hurt to set a clear structure and framework for the project.
With so many new online business models and remote work opportunities, learning to work remotely is becoming a skill.
Ensure everyone knows how things are going to proceed and everyone is familiar with the structure of remote work.
7. Keep In Mind Personal Characteristics
Personalities in the workplace can stir up conflict based on how people interact with each other. People have different personalities that can either clash or work well together.
With remote working, three things always need to be considered when setting up teams or assigning people to work together.
Consider people’s personalities and characteristics, determine whether they will work well together, and consider their work styles.
Many studies suggest different people have different work styles, which is good to note as a leader.
Considering whether someone works at a fast or slow pace and how that may affect their work in a group can show you how the group will work as a whole.
8. Recognize Achievements and Failures As A Team
Morale and camaraderie play key roles in an effective team. A team with positive attitudes and a good atmosphere will always be less likely to have serious conflicts.
When working with teams, you need to maintain synergy. This means that the group should function as a whole.
Recognizing failure and achievements in the group is a good way of keeping the team together. A team that celebrates together will always perform better.
Highlighting the positive and focusing on fixing the negative is an excellent way to ensure a well-functioning team.
When one member or group in the team achieves something, it’s good to get everyone involved and share positivity to make sure the team feels like they’ve won.
9. Encourage Informal And Formal Interactions
A remote team can often feel very disconnected in informal and formal settings. It’s good to ensure that the team works together well professionally but also outside the workplace.
If the atmosphere in the group is work, work, work all the time, it’s difficult for people to enjoy what they do and not get burnt out.
By promoting friendly conversation and informal interactions outside the professional settings, you can create a more fun workspace and make your employees feel more positive about the experience.
When it comes to remote work, there is no break room or carpooling to work. So it’s up to team leaders to find ways to introduce a social and friendly aspect to remote working.
Keeping things professional in the workplace is always a priority, and it’s just as important to set up friendly and social situations.
Message threads or group calls devoted to non-work-related topics and conversations are good ways to go about this.
10. Follow-Up After Conflict Resolution
Preventing conflict is ideally what you’d want to do in a workspace. However, when conflict does arise, following up after the resolution is essential.
Following up with both parties or everyone involved in the conflict can bring the team together after any issues.
Often, the resolution doesn’t come immediately after bad situations. Things take time to ease over and making sure that happens is essential.
Ensure that the resolution to any problems goes well and that the conflict doesn’t flare up again.
Be sure to accept and listen to any feedback people may have. Making people feel heard and recognized is the best thing to do for conflict.
11. Regular Meetings
While meetings may seem like the worst thing on the planet in an office setting, they are essential to the functionality of the group in remote teams.
When dealing with remote work, meetings are more crucial than ever. They get everyone on the same page and allow people to interact in the group.
Overcommunication is crucial in remote work settings due to the distance and disconnected nature.
In remote work settings, it’s harder for employees to get to know each other beyond being just “the people you work with”.
Meetings don’t have to be limited to “business only” either. The occasional catch-up or team-building meeting can be just as essential.
As a manager or team leader, you must make meetings as pleasant as possible to ensure no one dreads joining that group video call.
12. Clear, Timely Communication
Communication issues pose the biggest problem in remote working environments. Without clear communication, conflict is nearly guaranteed.
It’s good to note that communication over video or voice calls is much more effective than messages over text. Tone plays a significant role in how people understand what we say.
Conversations over video allow for better visual cues, and employees will often find it easier to relate and talk to people.
Misinterpretation occurs all the time in office environments and is one of the biggest reasons for conflicts arising in the workplace.
Misinterpretation of messages over text or email often occurs in the workplace, and face-to-face communication over video calls can improve your communication.
13. Take Time to Relax
Whether its birthdays, team achievements, or just because the weekend is coming up, take time away from work to bond with colleagues and interact outside the workspace.
Many people feel disconnected working remotely, which is why social interaction is even more important.
At the start of every workday, the team could “have coffee” together virtually or plan things to do over the weekend. People in teams and groups find it much more enjoyable when there’s a bit of fun mixed in with the work.
Celebrating or simple friendly interaction helps people not only bond but stay motivated and prevents employees from feeling drained and burnt out.
Team-building exercises are proven to build a team’s stability and synergy, helping teams to work together and function.
Team building builds trust in groups and mitigates conflict before it can even arise. Regular team-building exercises are the best way to improve your team.
These exercises can range from simple meetings to group getaways. The core aspect of team-building, regardless of the type of activity, is that the team interacts and builds relationships.
The most memorable and enjoyable team-building exercises don’t feel forced. Try to make things fun and relaxed without feeling like a corporate scheme to improve productivity.
Team-building activities shouldn’t be to make the team work harder or to bribe them to get their work done faster. These activities need to be fun, but still about bonding as a team and being productive.
15. Share A Virtual Workspace
When working remotely, work and projects all over the place can become a hassle. To ensure everyone is on the same page software-wise, try to find apps and software that everyone can use.
Virtual workspaces make it easier to manage workloads and organize your projects. Many of these workspaces offer services that help streamline work over digital means.
Shared workspace apps are efficient for a remote working environment, allowing people to share and manage the workflow from a single app.
With everyone on the same system, shared work or files won’t cause any confusion, and everything is organized much more efficiently.
16. Acknowledge Conflict, Don’t Turn a Blind Eye
When it comes to issues and problems in the workplace, even over virtual workspaces, one of the worst things to do is turn a blind eye and ignore conflict.
Everyone in the group needs to remember they’re on the same team and that issues aren’t magically going to disappear.
In most cases, not addressing conflict and keeping grudges will only make the situation worse. This needs to be avoided.
Conflict is inevitable when people work together in groups or teams. Ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem.
When conflict does flare up, it’s essential to address it immediately and solve the problem in a healthy, professional manner.