4 Steps to Resolve Conflicts Within Remote Teams
What was the earliest form of conflict you remember having? An argument with your friends? Or a disagreement with family for something you did? In a constructive sense, conflict is not bad. It allows everyone to embrace different views and approaches to the same goal or mission. This type increases productivity.
In the case of a remote team, communication is hampered, conference calls are plenty, and everyone faces their own Work-From-Home Issues. The lack of face-to-face also means it becomes more difficult to build trust with your team. With multiple barriers, the potential for conflict is high, and can have a negative impact on a team’s productivity and morale.
A Harvard Business Review study of over 1100 employees found that remote workers felt severely alienated, and that this was primarily driven by the perceptions of feeling that their priorities were not valued, and that they were not being informed about changes.
Resentment in this manner can be severely corrosive to a business and the way it works. It’s therefore logical to understand how to detect and manage conflict. And the good news is, it’s easy! All it takes is four steps, which you can remember with the acronym MEET.
Make time to check in regularly
Communication has always been one of the key tools in a manager’s kit. The Harvard study previously mentioned found almost half the respondents asserting that the most effective managers checked in frequently with their remote employees. “So how often?”, you might ask at this point.
This can be every day, or even once or twice a week. Bottom line: make sure that the check-in is consistent and involves scheduled one-to-one and team meetings. Making sure that everyone is heard in this manner will lessen the potential for conflict thus. But good skills require good tools to apply them. It is at this point that MultiCall proves to be such a tool.
A calling app that allows one-to-one group collaboration, MultiCall sports an assortment of features such as Call Scheduling, which can be used to regulate the meetings’ date, time, and duration on a repetitive basis. The app also has Call Monitoring, which will allow the user to clearly see who is in the call, and ensure that everyone involved has spoken up and participated.
Express expectations and feedback clearly
When it comes to managing remote teams, showing clarity clear about expectations is of the essence. Whether employees are remote or on-site, managers who iterate their expectations clearly can motivate their employees to live up to, and even exceed said expectations.
Being clear here means that team members are never mis/un-informed about critical aspects regarding projects, roles, or deadlines. This is inclusive of sharing the progress on the current situation and discussing why these members are the right ones for the job involved. In the process, the manager will be able to not only build motivation on call but trust as well.
With the expectations comes the feedback too. As a manager, giving positive feedback should be a simple part of your practice. We tend to associate feedback with things going wrong. Just hearing the words “Can I give you some feedback?” can put us on edge.
The mindset that “feedback” means bad news can be exacerbated in a remote working environment. This raises the possibility of conflict due to team members going defensive about their actions.
Giving positive feedback means adopting an approach involves telling the person what it was about their behavior or action that impressed you, and why what they did was effective. Thus, you can give direct and to the point feedback - so that the individual knows exactly what is expected of them.
Explore Changes and Differences
Changes in a team member’s behavior is a key metric toward possibility of conflict. This means not only seeing changes of tone in messages or emails, but in calls as well. Appearing hesitant to discuss issues with a certain person, or not engaging with said individual is enough to be a red flag for conflict
So be on the lookout for if an individual suddenly changes their style of talking. If they are usually enthusiastic but then become brief, submissive, or curt in their replies, they may be under some duress, or are not speaking up in a matter that can quickly escalate into a conflict.
It also could mean that they have a different view or misunderstanding on the matter that they do not wish to bring up due to differing with the whole group. Resolving the issue necessitates stepping in as soon as such behaviors occur and taking on a proactive attitude by asking relevant questions to let them voice their concerns. MultiCall helps you here by allowing you to speak one-to-one with individuals prior to adding others to the call.
Take Control and Responsibility
Changes in behavior does not apply to just your team members, this applies to you as a team leader too. Conflict is not there just in business; we have seen it at home too. Everything from leaving after a disagreement with your spouse, to someone’s reckless driving while you are on your way to work, is enough to leave you filled with a resentment
However, if this is transmitted to your team, it can only create conflict and will only drive them away. Approaching every call with a positive attitude and not an abrasive one increases the cooperation to allocated tasks and minimizes the potential for conflict. The benefit for this in the long run would be the team’s loyalty to your company.
Conflict is like energy. It cannot be destroyed, only transformed. It will not be possible to get everyone always in agreement. But if conflict so happens, it can be worked out by means of the four steps above and in having a good business communications tool to implement it with.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it” - Mahatma Gandhi