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Open Conflict

How do you prevent open team discussion from appearing to be a personal attack, especially if there are multiple complaints regarding one team member?


Complaints are different than disagreements. It is rarely productive to allow a group of employees to complain as a group about a team member. As a manager, you should validate the complaints and if they are found to be true, and if they violate the company culture or impact productivity, you should address it personally with the team member. In that meeting, address the behaviors that are causing the problem and not the person. Be very clear about which behaviors are impacting the group and how they are impacting the group.

If the group disagrees with a team member related to a work related issue, it is appropriate to discuss that in a team forum. Set the group rules for the meeting and make sure everybody has the same opportunity to speak. You need to carefully moderate the discussion and always bring it back to the goals and mission of the organization. Good luck.

Dr. Jamie Morley

Only address the behavior taking place and not the actual individual.

You really need to address both....especially if you want to modify an individual's behavior.

Ron Obstfeld

You could try coaching someone in ways to make/take criticism-making it constructive, but not taking it too far where it becomes personal or destructive... if the person has a tendency to take it too far, then I agree, their approach has to be called into question.

Coaching or implementation is all in the approach on how the information is delivered. There should be weekly round tables for open discussion so that not one person on the team feels like they are being targeted or attacked on a personal level.

Open discussion is always a good technique to foster communication and interaction. However, if there is an issue with one team member, a group discussion will not necessarily solve that issue. Individual coaching may be required along with open discussions to modify such behavior.

Ron Obstfeld

In a team environment, members complement each other's personalities, strengths, and challenges. As a Team Leader, it is paramount to set clear expectations on the outset--When the team develops the Team Charter--Everyone focuses on the team goals, activities supporting the betterment of the team, cultivatingsynergy, and using the curious approach instead of the 'attack approach' to effect change. When a team is large, it may warrant surveying the teams skills and assigning a Lead who has the skills and who has the aplomb to carry out a subtask such as addressing a problem or tackling an interpersonal conflict.

It is good to lay some ground rules for team discussions. I also believe in coaching to the individual when his/her behavior is counter intuitive to the team's progress.

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