Managing conflict within the team

28 December 2020 – News

Conflict is an unavoidable element of work environments and is quite common among healthcare professionals. The early signs can be subtle and knowing how to minimize and resolve it is essential to avoid damage to teams.
Conflict is caused by incompatibility, disagreement or dissonance emerging from issues such as mismatched role expectations, interdepartmental competition, personality differences or problems with the decision-making process. Poor communication and a lack of organizational support are other causes.
In 2014, the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service suggested that most individuals respond to conflict in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. Conflict can have a positive (constructive) or negative (destructive) influence on the team. Well-managed conflict can contribute to innovation and creativity, stronger organizational relationships, and higher staff commitment. Unresolved conflict, however, can jeopardize the overall productivity of an organization.
Head nurses play an important role in creating equilibrium within the team, as well as ensuring high standards of patient care and client satisfaction and helping the team to develop interventions collaboratively. Sometimes they may need to intervene to confront interpersonal conflict in order to avoid the more significant problems these could cause to the practice. Experts recommend bringing individuals together and enabling them to ‘tell their story’ without interruption in order to identify common ground.
This article is aimed at veterinary nurses but its content has wider application. It contains some useful recommendations on conflict management, a conflict resolution checklist and other useful tips.
Incidence of conflict may be reduced by the implementation of employee feedback forms or questionaires and ensuring a collaborative environment in which everyone’s role and contribution is recognized. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the culture of an organization is set mainly by the actions of those at the top.

Kerringan, L. Strategies for managing conflict within a team. July 2019.