Conflict Management Strategies for Remote Teams

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Conflict Management Strategies for Remote Teams

The world is constantly evolving, and so is the workforce. In recent times, more and more companies have had to revamp their organizations to facilitate their staff working remotely.

One would imagine that if persons are not face-to-face in the office, conflicts would decrease; however, working remotely could result in conflicts between employees compounding.

Asynchronous communication is prevalent in remote teams. It is characterized by its indirect nature due to a lack of real-time responses and the absence of visual cues and is marred with misinterpretation. Behind a screen, team members are emboldened to be less considerate in their responses or else provide radio silence. Virtual forms of communication are the perfect breeding ground for conflicts. So how do you put strategies in place to mitigate and benefit from conflicts?

Are all Conflicts Bad?

Conflicts are inevitable and generally carry a negative connotation. However, with proper conflict management strategies in place, an organization can use conflicts to foster trust, idea generation and increase productivity and growth.

A conflict is a clash of interests, an active disagreement caused by opposing opinions or principles. This opposition can be passive or direct and can lead to missed deadlines and may even derail projects. But if conflicting parties feel respected and empowered to voice their opinions and ideas, then conflict can be a source of brainstorming ideas and can fuel creativity.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Let us face it; not everyone will get along. Therefore, the focus should be less on eradicating conflict and more on finding conflict management strategies that foster trust, respect, empowerment and ownership among employees.

First, you must identify the source of the conflict. Red flags that conflicts may be brewing are miscommunication, misaligned goals, priorities and expectations, and employees feeling undervalued.

Improving Communication

In a remote environment, many visual cues are lacking in communication.  As a result, managers need to look for indications of miscommunication in chats and by listening to their team members’ tone in voice or video calls. Miscommunication can present itself in a reduction of participation in group settings, curt responses, unresponsiveness, or even the lack of use of emojis.

Managers should facilitate explicit communication between parties in an environment that fosters safety and belonging. Employees should be encouraged to voice their opinions respectfully and to listen to their teammates actively and without judgment.

Another conflict resolution strategy to reduce miscommunication is for each team member to assume positive intent. While it is easy to misconstrue messages, employees should step back from a conflict and try to gain perspective while keeping a positive view of their colleagues’ actions and intent.

Clearly Outline Goals and Expectations

Outlining roles clearly and delegating tasks is another key strategy involved in conflict resolution. This fosters ownership and empowerment. When you ensure each team member understands the overall goals of the organization, their function and their impact, it creates a goal-oriented environment. Regular team meetings that provide updates and set clear objectives help keep everyone on the same page.

Do you need help with conflict management?

At Pivot HR Services, we can guide managers to be proactive in identifying conflicts in your remote team, de-escalate them, and channel that energy into creating a positive environment. Our consultants will assess your team and provide personalized strategies for conflict resolution.

Visit our website or call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced HR consultants.


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