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How To Manage Conflict In Virtual Teams

In this article, we’ll look at ways to avoid conflict where possible and effectively manage it when it does arise in virtual teams.

Managing Conflict In Virtual Teams

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. That being said, within remote and virtual teams, it is more likely to arise due to communication issues and misunderstandings. Remote teams may also find managing conflict between members difficult too, especially where the opportunity to resolve issues face to face isn’t possible. In this article, we’ll look at reasons for conflict in virtual teams and look at ways leaders can effectively manage conflict in virtual teams when it does arise.

Workplace conflict'

Reasons For Conflict In Virtual Teams

Breakdown in Communication

When it comes to communicating remotely, the absence of non-verbal cues, such as body language, can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding. Further to this, it is easy to communicate with others quickly and gain the information needed to complete a task almost immediately in an office. When it comes to instant messaging, responses can be slower which leads to resentment or hostility.

Personality Clashes

When you’re working with diverse teams, it’s inevitable that personalities will clash. This is true of physical workplace environments too, but when working remotely these personal differences can be left unchecked. In these situations, managers and leaders may find that teams don’t work as well together due to conflict that arises through differences in personality.

Lack Of Sufficient Explanations

When you explain a task or decision to someone face to face it is much easier to gauge understanding and their reaction in person. However, in virtual environments, explanations can get lost in translation. When this happens, team members might feel like they can’t speak out or ask for help, which leads to a dip in productivity. This, in turn, can lead to resentment among the team, especially if they do not understand what has happened to cause the issue.

Less Inhibitions When Interacting Virtually

People tend to regulate and temper their responses more when communication in person. Virtually, however, it can be a different story. Team members may feel less inhibited about what they say over email or instant messaging, as they don’t have to deal with the impact on the person receiving it. This can lead to escalating situations which wouldn’t necessarily arise in physical office environments.

Managing Conflict In Virtual Teams

Conflict can be a big issue for virtual teams. It can lead to low morale and motivation, slow down workflows and affect the quality of work. For this reason, it is important to manage conflict effectively in virtual teams to avoid irreparable damage to morale. Here, we share some ways that you can manage conflict in virtual teams as a manager or leader.

Managing Conflict In Virtual Teams'

Tips For Managing Conflict

Set A Good Example

As a manager, it is your responsibility to model the kinds of behaviours you would like to see in your team members. Therefore, when it comes to preventing and managing conflict, it is important to take a pragmatic and open-minded approach to disagreements that is professional at all times. If, as a manager, you are abrasive or make snide remarks about other colleagues, then team members are more likely to follow suit.

Communicate Regularly

Video calls are the best way to communicate with your remote team. As a manager, you should be making time to communicate regularly with all members of your team, and facilitating team-wide video meetings, too. It is all too easy for individuals working remotely to feel a bit at sea and disconnected from the wider team. Your job is to create an environment conducive to teamwork. This can be achieved through regular meetings and even virtual team building which will work to bring barriers down and create a sense of camaraderie.

Build Feedback Into Your Culture

When conflict arises in virtual teams, it can fester and become quite toxic. If your workplace culture doesn’t offer the opportunity for employees to come forward and air problems or concerns, this is even more likely to happen. For this reason, you should work to create a workplace culture that is open to feedback and that invites team members to air concerns and issues in a constructive and productive manner. This can be achieved by laying out clear processes for these situations and outlining how team members can approach you about issues they may encounter at work.

Celebrate Achievements & Special Occasions

Teams that work remotely can often feel like they’re missing out on a sense of community and togetherness. For this reason, leaders should go above and beyond to uphold and celebrate key achievements and highlight special occasions. From birthdays to client feedback, take any opportunity to celebrate with your team and praise them. You could even arrange to host a virtual quiz or coffee morning to bring everyone together and boost motivation.

Virtual Team Building From KDM Events

If you’re looking to boost morale and improve working relationships within your virtual team, we have the answer. As more and more workplaces are operating from home now, we have developed a wide range of virtual team building events which are designed to improve communication skills, develop relationships between colleagues and bring a little fun to your remote working day. From virtual chocolate making and wine tasting to competitive quizzes with a fun twist, we have a wide range of innovative team building events available to support you in leading your team. For more information, contact our Event Managers.

 

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