Managing a team can be a challenging job, although also very rewarding. One of the main hurdles that every leader has to overcome is getting each member of the team to be able to work well together.
You may find that you spend a lot of time trying to avoid confrontation and ensure that everyone gets along with each other. This promotes the best working environment and helps make sure that your team is as effective as possible.
However, fights may be more valuable to your team than you think. Of course, we're not talking about physical brawls in the office, but creative disputes can be a good thing for your working environment.
It's important that you manage any confrontation within your team to make sure you make something valuable out of it, rather than having it digress into a slanging match.
Why is your team fighting?
In order to get something out of your team fights or disputes, it's important that you are able to understand the reasons behind the tension. If the issues are arising during creative brainstorms, it's likely that the arguments are the result of people being passionate about their ideas and roles.
However, if these altercations are happening during the working day then there may be a much bigger problem. For professionals to be swapping snide comments in the office, there has to be issues beyond creative differences. This doesn't mean that these problems can't be resolved, and that you can't get something worthwhile out of these discussions, but it needs to be approached in a much different way.
Is it a good thing?
Of course, whether or not fights within your team are a good thing or not depends on the reasons behind them. Creative disputes are starkly different to personality clashes and should be addressed as such.
Arguments over creative ideas are a positive thing for your team, as they suggest that professionals are incredibly passionate about the work that they do and want to do the best job possible. However, they need to be managed in the right way to make sure these altercations don't lead to other problems.
What do you do?
The best way to do this is to make sure there is a space for these creative discussions. Brainstorms are a great way to have people voice their opinions about work and, more importantly, how improvements can be made. As a manager, you need to ensure these conversations don't boil over or become a personal attack, but they can be an effective way of coming up with new ideas.
However, problems that are arising because of clashes in personality need a bit more of a hands-on approach. There will always be people who just don't get on, but it's important that they are still able to get their job done. It may be a good idea to bring these issues up during each individual's 1-2-1 meetings and look at ways that these confrontations can be avoided.
Finding the right solution
Whenever there are fights within a team, it's important that they aren't ignored. Even if they are positive creative disputes, as a manager you need to understand what the boundaries are and when your intervention may be needed.
For personality clashes, it's essential that it doesn't descend into bullying or harassment and it's good to know at what point you may need to escalate it or refer it to HR. If you're fairly inexperienced in management it can be difficult to know when it may be going beyond what you can handle on a team level. This is why it's important to get the advice of other managers in your company about what the best next step may be.