Is Team Conflict a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Teamwork is a difficult thing to manage in today’s workforce. Employees, especially millennials newly entering the workforce, are looking for satisfying jobs where they will be able to have their say and see where their efforts are bearing fruit. While this isn’t a bad quality, it can be challenging when working with teams, as there will always be differences in opinions about how things should be.

Team Conflict

Is it okay to have conflict among team members? If it is, what does good conflict actually look like in the workplace? These are the issues I’m going to be addressing in this article.

Is Conflict a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Conflict, when done in the right way, can be the best and most productive thing for your team. Positive conflict happens when ideas are discussed in a way that does not discourage people from speaking or debating. Only when you have established a culture of trust can employees discuss anything to do with the project without fear of being abused or shut out for an idea that may not make much sense.

Additionally, employees need to be able to resolve any issues they have with each other at work. This can only happen through positive conflict situations, where employees feel okay about confronting each other in regards to certain situations at work.

Although positive conflict may still feel uncomfortable, positive conflict actually resolves the issue and allows teams to move on to something more productive. It results in a happier and healthier workplace where things don’t fester over time in people’s minds, and instead are brought into the open and dealt with quickly.

How to Identify Healthy Team Conflict

There are a few things you need to ask if you want to identify which conflict in a team is healthy and which is not:

  • Is the conflict solving an issue?

A conflict that isn’t based on a real issue can be unproductive and harmful to your team. Make sure healthy conflict surrounds real issues that will make a difference to the team in one way or another. The goal should be based on producing the best possible solution in the shortest amount of time.

  • Are people respecting each other?

If your employees are not acting respectfully towards each other, then you as the leader need to step in and control the situation. There should be a respectful discussion going on that allows everyone to speak their mind without fear of reproach or bullying. Creating a culture of trust helps with this.

  • Are new ideas being presented and debated?

Sometimes conflict involves the same issues being presented over and over again. This is not a healthy way to debate, because nothing new is getting solved or changed by the discussion. Instead, once something is solved and debated it should be put to the side so that new issues can be discussed instead.

  • How competitive are employees with each other?

Top performers tend to be more competitive towards each other than the average worker. To help control this and turn it into something good, let the employees compete with each other in certain areas, as long as they are working towards a team goal and making progress.

  • Is there a set of rules being followed for the discussion?

Healthy conflict should follow a set of rules of engagement that will guide employees on how to treat each other during a discussion. Having this set of rules will make everything go more smoothly and help employees to know how they should or shouldn’t approach a discussion. Simply put no interpersonal politics and personal attacks. Conflict should be limited to the ideas and concepts with the ultimate goal of producing the best possible solution for the team.

  • Do employees agree at the end of the conflict?

While your employees may never see eye-to-eye exactly, they should be able to come to a resolution and make a decision at the end of the conflict session.

Promoting Useful Conflict within a Team

As the team leader, you can help to promote healthy conflict within your team. Creating the right company culture that focuses on trust, adaptability, flexible mindsets, openness, and acceptance of new ideas will help your employees embrace positive conflict.

Remember that conflict will never be particularly pleasant for anyone, because it does involve two or more people with differing opinions, but if it’s done in the right way it can engage the team in a positive way.


Conflict doesn’t have a good reputation in the business world, but it’s something that shouldn’t be avoided. Instead, usher in positive conflict and great discussions with your employees to help create productivity and useful changes in your workplace.


About Total Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate fun engaging experiential team building activities designed to enhance team culture, leadership, communication and collaboration. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your team contact us today.


Do Team Members Have to Like Each Other to Work Well Together?

One huge question that many people have about teams is this: do team members actually have to like each other to work together? The short answer is no, they don’t. However, a simple “no” doesn’t acknowledge the more complex parts of this problem, so the article below will be addressing this question in more depth.

Do Team Members Have To Like Each Other to work well as a team

Personal Feelings Versus Conflict

First and foremost, it’s important to recognise the difference between active conflicts and people simply not liking each other. Conflict is when two or more parties are actively being hostile to each other because of a specific disagreement. This could be a short-term disagreement over how work should be done or a long-term disagreement between two people that feel differently about how things should be happening with the team.

Personal feelings are all about how people relate to one another on a daily basis. Conflict can arise out of extreme dislike of one another, but it doesn’t have to. It’s possible to work together without conflict, even if you don’t personally like someone else you’re working with.

How Do Personal Feelings Affect Your Team?

Interpersonal relations of team members aren’t really the business of team leaders as long as those relationships are not affecting the productivity of employees or the work being produced. If personal feelings start to get in the way of work that needs to be done, then and only then should a leader step in to try to bridge the gap.

It’s impossible for everyone in the world to get along well with each other. Differences in personalities, beliefs, ways of life, and more will always exist. These differences are what create a diverse workplace. Diversity might be difficult to handle at first, but it’s worth the effort in the end despite the risk of conflict between team members.

Creating A Standard For Interpersonal Relations

Conflicts between team members should be avoided when possible and dealt with openly when they occur. It’s the job of a team leader or manager to stress that employees must treat each other with at least a minimal level of respect at work. Professionalism demands that team members show some courtesy towards one another and work pleasantly beside each other.

If teams get along well with each other, these types of professional conduct rules will not have to be enforced or emphasised. However, in a case where any number of team members don’t like each other, it’s essential that everyone involved understands that their job is not to like each other but to get work done as a team. This requires civility and professional courtesy at the very least. Teams that have interpersonal problems need to have standards of behavior set for them to follow just like any other performance standards at work.

Liking Someone Versus Trusting Someone

The major difference between teams that work well together despite poor interpersonal relations and those that don’t work well together is trust. As long as members of a team trust that each person will be able to do their work properly and contribute to the team goal they will be able to work alongside one another. Without trust no team can function well.

Trust requires some level of respect between employees. They don’t need to respect each other as individuals, but as professionals. As long as two employees who don’t like each other can acknowledge that each one of them is a capable professional who can add to the team at large, they will be able to get work done. Without this basic respect, no trust will exist between employees and the team will eventually start to fail.

The Bottom Line

Whether or not people like each other is not really a concern for a team leader to focus on. The bigger issue is how they treat each other at work despite that dislike of one another. If employees are working well together, treating each other professionally and courteously, and accomplishing goals then there is no real need to delve into issues of interpersonal relations. However, if personal feelings are getting in the way of work performance, it’s necessary to remedy the situation before it gets out of hand.

Team Building helps build working relationships and trust?

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of fun based team building activities that help build team morale, trust and an appreciation for the differences within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Common Areas of Conflict within a Team

Team conflict is not an inevitable occurrence, but it is quite common whenever people end up working together. What causes conflicts at work? There are a variety of sources, and each has a way they should and should not be addressed. It’s important to recognize the source of any conflict in order to deal with it properly.

Common Areas of Conflict within a team


In general, all conflicts stem from one or more people perceiving the actions of another as hurtful, incorrect, wrong, or unhelpful. People who are involved in a workplace conflict with one another cannot see things from the other’s point of view; therefore, they feel as though they have been wronged and that the other is responsible for fixing that wrong.

This sort of issue can arise from almost any situation as all that’s needed is a difference of opinions. Many conflicts in the workplace come about from similar occurrences. Here are a few of the most common reasons for team conflicts.


  1. Competition

A little bit of competition might help the team work well together, but it can also increase friction between team members. Conflicts can arise from all different types of competition. Whether employees have conflicting interests that make them compete for different goals from the team’s goal, there are conflicts over limited resources needed for different jobs, or if team members want their own individual recognition instead of team recognition, conflicts may arise.

  1. Differences in working behaviors

Someone who naturally has their own habits and behaviors at work will normally be opposed to another team member coming in and messing up those behaviors with their own different ways of working. This happens more commonly with new teams, as members get used to working with one another.

  1. Ignoring normal team practices

If at any point a member of the team starts to act in a manner that’s inconsistent with normal team behaviors and expected actions, conflicts can come about between members. Over time this sort of conflict can quickly spread around to encompass the whole team, so if this is the source of your own team’s conflict you will need to address it quickly.

  1. Failure to perform well

It can happen that a team member does not contribute equally, gives consistently bad work, or generally is unmotivated about getting anything done properly. In this instance it is easy for others to become frustrated at that person and conflict can arise.

  1. Vague work scenarios

Teams that don’t have clearly defined goals will often find themselves fighting about what exactly they are trying to accomplish. It is up to management and leading figures to make sure goals are laid out in a way that all members of the team can understand.

Another vague working scenario that can cause problems is when team members have different ideas about how the goal should be reached. This sort of ambiguity about what should be done that comes about when clear actions are not laid out is a very frequent source of conflict in many working teams.

  1. No team accountability

Lack of individual and team accountability can make any of the above listed issues worse and can escalate any situation that may not have caused conflict into a full-on team conflict.


While team leaders and managers cannot fully avoid conflict, it’s important to learn how to help your team get through instances of conflict before the team is torn apart and rendered use less. Learn how to recognise the source of the conflict and respond to it before it gets out of hand.


About Total Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate team building programs designed to enhance teamwork, team culture, leadership, communication and collaboration. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your team contact us today.