Common Areas of Conflict within a team

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.


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