Is conflict bad on a team

Team conflicts: 4 warning signs + 5 methods of arbitration

Where several people come together, there are always personalities who do not get along well with each other. Team conflicts are particularly difficult: after all, you work closely together, it is difficult to evade. Especially since behind some superficially viewed trivialities there are deep conflicts that need to be resolved. Failure to do this will have a negative impact on everyone involved. How to resolve a dispute among colleagues ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

That is why you should resolve team conflicts

Quarrel is the icing on the cake, they say. Team conflicts are therefore completely normal and do not have to be a threat to a healthy working relationship. However, it depends on the quality of such conflicts (PDF): If it gets loud and other colleagues are already embarrassed to find the distance, then a point has definitely been exceeded. It is important to intervene in good time, otherwise such discrepancies will permanently disrupt the relationship. This not only poisons the working atmosphere, but can also have negative consequences for business development.

Managers need empathy, in order to identify emerging team conflicts at an early stage and to take countermeasures. Good observation and a feeling for nuances are indispensable, because employees often only involve superiors when the child has already fallen into the well. Taking the time for your employees and taking stock of the situation through feedback discussions can help avoid team conflicts. However, this requires a certain number of staff so that superiors can take care of their employees outside of the normal day-to-day business.

Preventing team conflicts: 4 warning signs

In order to be able to perceive emerging team conflicts, you need to recognize certain warning signals in advance. The following situations / circumstances often contain potential for conflict:


Do certain groups always go on break together while the newcomer is left alone at work? Are some employees really cut off from the flow of information and are appointments not passed on to them? Popular or prestigious tasks always go to the same people? Managers have to be very vigilant here, as such incidents can develop into concrete discrimination or even bullying.

notification of illness

If individual team members call in sick more than average, this can be a sign of subliminal team conflicts. This often leads to psychosomatic complaints such as back pain (PDF), gastrointestinal diseases or tinnitus.

Culture of conversation

What kind of communication behavior do the participants display, do they treat each other with respect? Or are killer phrases exchanged instead, such as “You never clean out the dishwasher” or “Do you always dump the work on others”? If communication threatens to drift into personal lows, managers must intervene as quickly as possible. The way in which colleagues communicate with each other (or against each other) allows conclusions to be drawn as to whether the team conflicts have existed for a long time.

Turnover rate

An increase in sick leave with regard to team conflicts is the fluctuation rate. In view of dwindling human resources, hardly any company can afford that. Even without a shortage of skilled workers in their own company, executives should understand that a high fluctuation rate does not only cause unrest in the team. In any case, it is associated with costs, solely due to the induction phase.

Causes of Team Conflicts

If different interests, objectives or values ​​of individual team members or parties meet that are or appear to be incompatible, a conflict arises. The other party feels hindered or threatened in their work. A distinction must be made between personal and content-related conflicts.

Personal reasons

  • The chemistry between the team members is not right.
  • The members do not accept the team leadership.
  • Individuals want to enforce their decisions.
  • The team members are demotivated.
  • There are rope teams in the team.
  • The team leader proves to be incompetent.
  • Power struggles arise over certain positions.

Content-related reasons

  • No specific target agreements were made.
  • The workflows are unclear.
  • There are disputes over resources.
  • The distribution of tasks is unfair.

Examples of team conflicts

Personal animosity or nepotism are aspects that almost always trigger team conflicts. Larger companies are more frequently affected by such disputes than smaller ones and the industry also plays a role: Manufacturing companies are more at risk of developing team conflicts than companies from the service sector.

In addition to personal reasons, there are a number of external circumstances encourage team conflicts. People react differently to stress and pressure than usual. This is especially true in times of crisis, which can be caused by the following factors, for example:


The worst case is when a company leaves some employees in the wake of a drop in sales. Even colleagues with whom you got along well up until then inevitably become competition, as everyone fears for their job. In such cases, keeping the mood and work ethic up is often difficult, especially since everyone can work out which employees are more likely to be affected and which are less likely to be affected. At the same time, the termination of employees can mean a significant increase in work for the individual or the department as a result of redistribution. New and additional tasks can lead to a lack of time and stress, both of which lead to team conflicts.


Team conflicts also flare up when measures are taken to reorganize various departments. The uncertainty about how the measures will affect the individual leads to envy and competitiveness. Some employees feel like they have a pool that the company can deal with at will. Often a factory or branch closure has preceded this and the product range has to be rebuilt. This is accompanied by new tasks and areas of responsibility. Redeployment avoids downsizing, but the existing workforce has to come to terms with new framework conditions: For example, there are new supervisors and new methods of performance evaluation, possibly also performance-based remuneration systems.

Corporate crises

If a company crisis arises as a result of fraud or corruption scandals, it promotes team conflicts if an employee or a department is considered to be the culprit. The public focus on the failure of the company can lead to a loss of image. Employees can become demotivated, especially if their identification was high beforehand. The loss of major customers or important orders contributes to uncertainty. The end of the crisis is not always in sight, employees fear consequences such as job loss.

Business growth

Rapid expansions with many changes within a very short time mean stress: Lots of new colleagues and other superiors, new premises, new tasks - all of this can be overwhelming. Those who have been with us for a long time have internalized different ways of working than those who are new. Perhaps he feels marginalized and little valued because he now belongs to the minority with a handful of veterans. Different ideas about how work orders are to be completed also lead to tension and thus team conflicts.

Methods of Dispute Resolution

If an open dispute emerges from a smoldering conflict, constructive criticism is seldom presented. In order to be able to use effective methods for mediating team conflicts, we briefly clarify which intentions can be associated with this criticism:

  • 1. Future mistakes should be avoided.
  • 2. The guilty party should be made (financially) liable.
  • 3. By making cynical remarks, he blames others.
  • 4. The critic lets off steam.
  • 5. He points out his own superiority.

But only the first intention has real justification, because this is forward-looking. Instead of looking for a scapegoat, the critic deals with the problem in a cooperative and constructive manner. All other reasons are not very effective, as the employee or the department will vehemently defend themselves against the allegations.

This is particularly true when the impression arises that someone should be brought before only so that another can improve morally. The second reason is special because a possible compensation compensates the damage incurred, but it cannot prevent a team conflict. But a better mood is the main goal when resolving team conflicts, so here are five tips:


As a manager, you need to intervene at the slightest sign of a team conflict. The sooner, the greater the likelihood of being able to avert larger disputes. If there are disputes between two employees, they should be able to explain their point of view in a one-on-one conversation. This is more effective because there are fewer inhibitions about talking about things openly compared to talking to three or more people.


In order to be able to resolve a team conflict, it is important to have an understanding but clear approach. Choose a good time (start of the week, preferably in the morning) for the conversation and stick to I-messages. Clearly state the problem and give examples of specific situations.


Avoid accusations, they only lead to offense. Instead, signal that you are interested in a constructive settlement of the team conflict. There are different approaches here. After you know the trigger of the conflict and the causes, you can work out solutions together with the individual employees. It is important that something is not simply imposed from above. The employee could perceive this as paternalism, which would be of little help, as new conflicts can arise.


Depending on how hardened a team conflict is, creative methods can help to move the conflict from the relationship to the factual level. Conflict mapping is a way of visualizing the topic and those involved. This illustrates the different relationships to one another and can help with the analysis. In order to assess how emotionally involved individual team members are, a conflict curve can be drawn. There, the individual stages of the conflict and your own location are recorded, then the conflict curves of the individual employees are compared with one another. This opens up common communication and enables common perception. Depending on the extent of the team conflict, several discussions may be necessary.

objective agreement

Finally, the participants should agree on realistic goals for how the team conflict can be resolved on a permanent basis. Keep these agreements as specific as possible. This makes it easier to check later whether both parties to the conflict are adhering to it. Make an appointment for a follow-up interview to clarify whether the implementation of the target agreements is working.

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