If your remote team was just 10 people who looked, thought, and acted
the same, there wouldn’t be too many new ideas thrown around at
meetings, and the workplace would probably be pretty boring.
Cultivating a team with different educations, religions, social views,
upbringings, etc., makes for a great idea-formulating environment… but
it also certainly can lead to some conflict. Conflict is not
necessarily a bad thing, and it ultimately is a sign of passion in the
mission. However, if left to boil, it can cause issues and make
any work environment, digital or otherwise, a tense place to be,
resulting in productivity issues and more.
With COVID-19 lockdowns, many companies who didn’t formerly utilize a
remote work platform now are, but no matter if managing a remote team
is a new task or something your company has done for years, action
resolution in the workplace needs to be taken swiftly and
respectfully to all parties involved. Here are some tips!
This is something we’ve been taught since pre-school, but can still
be a bit difficult to grasp at times, especially when team members are
passionate about how they want something done. If a given conflict is
between two team members with relatively similar amounts of pull, a
mediator is almost always needed to allow cooler heads to prevail. Compromise
shows appreciation for both parties, and allows each to feel like they
Compromise does take evaluation, and at times you will determine that
one side is right and one is not, thus not really allowing for
compromise as a means of successful resolution. In these instances,
it’s important to let the “losing” party know how important they are
and thank them for things they brought to the table in the past while
letting them down easy. Akin to nurses having to deliver bad news to
patients, good therapeutic
communication makes bad news easier to swallow.
It may seem elementary, but after a conflict is “resolved,” there are
almost always lingering effects between the two (or more) conflicting
parties, and bringing those parties together to say sorry and bury the
proverbial hatchet is a key in avoiding future conflict between said
parties. In the brick-and-mortar workplace, a nice cup of coffee can
usually serve as a backdrop for an apology rendezvous, and the
face-to-face aspect is important so ensuring your remote members are
actually seeing the apologies (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.), rather than
sending an email that could be perceived as disingenuous, is important.
Don’t Discourage Conflict
Though it’s probably a bad practice to tell everyone to argue,
discouraging disagreements is also a bad practice and will result in
less ideas shared, and ultimately a lesser-motivated workforce. “Don’t
get upset about being upset” is a nice mantra when it comes to dealing with
workplace conflict. Conflict resolution is important, but
complete avoidance is generally not good for the company, as a whole.
Many remote companies’ employees are spread across the globe, making
a Friday afternoon escape room team-building exercise pretty hard to
come by. Zoom meetings revolving around fun instead of work, however,
are not difficult to set up, and there are many team-building
activities that can be done over an internet connection. Board games
can be played, even things like “show-and-tell” with coveted household
items opens up the personal side of an otherwise-business relationship.
If you’ve already noticed some rifts between certain team members,
creating team problem-solving contests that involve breaking away from
the main cyber meeting and teaming up in smaller groups is a great way
to “force” said rift-havers into working together.
Finally, training your team on these methods is also a way to take
some burden off your own shoulders and allow grown men and women to
try to fix their issues themselves. Certainly there will be times
where that is just not possible, and then you can step in and turn
these tips into actions!