How To Reduce Team Tensions

Tension and an atmosphere that does not promote collaboration and performance is a situation that as a manager you will have to confront head-on or risk not achieving your own goals and others more senior to you having a highly negative view of your style of delivery.

If we look at strategies and approaches NOT to use the following, however attractive they seem to you, are total non-starters:

  1. Appeasing: Never make promises you cannot keep or embellish the truth to turn a situation around. You will rapidly lose trust and credibility because of your unethical highly unprofessional behaviour.
  2. Divide and Rule: This is all about giving different stories to different people or it can include offering different inducements to get the desired result. This will always increase resentment and staff will have no faith in what you say and do going into the future.
  3. Imposing: People may be shunned into silence by this approach, having been pushed or bounced into a position that they are unhappy with. This will simply drive the conflict underground and encourage further, and possibly more destructive, conflict.

The strategies to use and which can be relied upon include the following:

  • Listening and discussing the cause of the problem and asking as many questions as necessary to get to the bottom of the matter.
  • Giving due consideration to each person’s concerns. However tempting it might be to ignore the views of some parties the fact that you consult and value each view increases the likelihood of finding an acceptable solution.
  • Negotiating and compromising – looking at what can be given away and what are the constituents of the “core” views that cannot be given away.
  • Working towards a win/win situation – avoid a win/lose outcome at all costs as to do so will just increase tension, resentment and push conflict onto another level.
  • Allowing people to take ownership of the solution – gaining buy-in and commitment so that the likelihood of tension and conflict returning is dramatically reduced.

Good Luck!

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