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Building productive teams:

Acknowledge that the conflict exists

Gain common ground by putting the conflict in perspective with the goals and purpose of the team.
Seek to understand all angles of the disagreement, keeping in mind that understanding is different from agreement.
Attack the issue, not each other. Channel anger and hostility into problem solving and action planning.
Develop an action plan describing what each person will do to solve the problem.
This method allows both parties to acknowledge the nature of the conflict, then jointly work toward resolving it. As with Varney’s (1989) approach, the key to this process is responding quickly and effectively when conflict presents itself. Teams are cautioned to avoid covering up painful issues. Sooner or later, unresolved issues tend to resurface, often in uglier forms than before. Along the same lines, teams should not automatically defer an issue to management, as this disempowers the team. Instead, they should learn how to handle disputes themselves, requesting help from management only when their own attempts at resolution have failed. Fisher et al. (1995) stress that team members should be encouraged to voice their concerns in team meetings rather than outside the team setting, in an attempt to avoid what they call the AParking Lot Commentary (p. 212). This happens when team members are afraid to voice feelings to the team so they begin to talk about team issues in conversations with individuals. When this occurs it undermines the trust and integrity of the team.