Conflict in the workplace is difficult to avoid, especially in a virtual workplace. However, in this guest article by Georgi Todorov, you’ll learn strategies for reducing virtual work disputes and resolving ones that do happen.
Workplace conflict is nearly impossible to avoid. It is feasible to handle it quite successfully, but when team members are moved out of the office, it becomes more difficult. One of the issues of working in a virtual environment is that digital signals are readily misunderstood.
Employee conflicts can be extremely costly in terms of lost productivity, lowered morale, and stifled creativity. In a virtual environment, there isn’t the benefit of closeness, so people in a quarrel can work out their differences face to face. So, what can you do to cut down on workplace squabbles? Let’s take a quick look at the most prevalent conflicts in a virtual environment before we address this issue.
In a virtual world, what are the most prevalent conflicts?
In virtual teams, there are four forms of conflicts that are widespread. Knowing what they are can assist you in recognizing early warning signals and responding to them before they become out of hand.
You’re definitely familiar with this form of dispute if you’ve ever worked on a collaborative project. Individuals in a team must pull their weight in order for a project to be completed successfully. However, conflicts can arise as a result of how duties are assigned, differences of opinion on policies and processes, managing expectations, and interpreting facts.
Conflicts in Performance
It’s not uncommon for even the most rational people to disagree about how tasks should be completed, how those duties should be completed, what resources will aid in the project’s progress, and individual team member demands.
Conflicts in Goal-setting
For a remote team to perform effectively, managers and leaders must set shared goals and vision. This will necessitate both scheduled team meetings and one-on-one contact. If this does not happen, conflict may arise when remote individuals labor with conflicting assumptions and aims.
Conflicts in Negotiations
When it comes to negotiating, when teams transition to remote work, there is a significant lack of guidelines and established practices. Everyone is aware of how they should conduct themselves during face-to-face interactions. Employees, on the other hand, struggle with a variety of communication methods when a team goes to a more virtual setting.
Too much communication and a lack of consistency in communication approaches pose a risk. Team members may be able to use screen sharing, video calls, or VoIP tools, for example.
The failure of digital communication media to give nuance and context is a fundamental concern with a virtual workplace. As a result, because communication platforms do not allow for body language, facial expression, posture, tone, or hand gestures, judgments might be made and conflicts can arise. Although using a conversational tone can help, it’s no substitute for face-to-face discussions or video chats.
In a virtual setting, how can you avoid team conflicts?
Managers must be proactive in preventing, addressing, and resolving disputes before they drive your top team members away or derail your project if they wish to avoid or at the very least lessen team conflicts.
Establish ground rules to avoid misunderstandings.
It’s all too easy for digital conversations to go wrong and become sour. Set some ground rules for remote teams to follow to avoid such scenarios. Here are a few easy guidelines to keep in mind:
- Always treat others with dignity and equality.
- Consider and respect the opinions of others.
- If you must disagree with a coworker, do so in a professional and calm manner, communicating quietly and explaining why you disagree.
- Ascertain that everyone in the team is on the same page.
- Take a moment to consider what you’re saying before clicking “Send.”
- When you’re in the wrong, don’t be frightened, humiliated, or too proud to apologize.
- Non-confrontational dialogue should always be the goal.
- If a problem is unsolvable, remove yourself from the circumstance.
- Make a decision-making protocol.
- If a group needs to make a choice, it’s a good idea to establish a decision-making procedure and make sure everyone agrees.
- Consider the following decision-making process in detail:
- Determine the decision.
- assemble any pertinent data
- Determine your options.
- Consider the evidence.
- Make your decision.
- Take action now.
- Examine the decision and its implications.
- To generate ideas, use a virtual whiteboard.
A steady stream of communication can help to build trust and provide a natural environment for sharing ideas and thoughts. Although there is no longer a watercooler, platforms like Slack give employees a space to communicate about whatever they want. There is less possibility of disagreement when employees can get to know one another better.
Consistently hold Virtual Meetings
Employees can’t get together like they used to before COVID-19. Remote team members, for example, are unable to participate in lunch breaks or after-work meetings with their coworkers. Hold virtual meetings on a regular basis to keep your staff connected and interested.
- Constant communication opportunities will aid in the avoidance of misconceptions and conflicts. Make sure the environment is pleasant and that you interact with everyone during the meeting.
- Encourage team members to spend time with one another.
- Encourage team members to keep their video cameras on during meetings to make them more personal.
- Plan virtual team-building exercises.
- Involving your staff in remote team building activities is a terrific method to boost communication and promote a group mindset.
You might also consider enrolling in a group skills training class like Conflict Resolution, which will teach you and your team how to handle and resolve disagreements with coworkers in a more productive and positive manner.
Virtual teams are prone to conflict. Managers who lead from the front and encourage constructive teamwork and interpersonal communication, on the other hand, can help keep conflict at bay.