How to Effectively Manage Conflict in Remote Teams

Byon January 12#business-tips
Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are signs of an engaging and active workplace. It shows that your employees take their work seriously and don't hesitate to vocalize their opinions. However, it is the manager's responsibility to resolve workplace conflicts on time and show the right direction to the team members before a small argument turns into a big fight. 

But that's not at all easy, especially when team members work remotely. One wrongly phrased email or text message can raise a conflict among teams and toxicate your remote work culture. 

According to recent company culture stats, 38% of employees want to quit their job due to a toxic work environment. 

Since it is predicted that 73% of teams will have remote workers by 2028; it is crucial for managers to learn how to resolve remote workplace conflicts. 

This post will help you understand common remote workplace triggers and how to resolve them. 

Common Remote Workplace Conflict Triggers 

Not working under the same roof is already challenging for teams, but these problems make it even harder for them to collaborate remotely: 

Poor communication: Lack of non-verbal and timely communication is the biggest reason behind remote workplace conflicts. People often misunderstand emails and messages that can give birth to serious misunderstandings and conflicts. 

Interpersonal clashes: Remote teams are usually diverse teams that can also cause miscommunication in the team. Some teammates might not understand the cultural slang or language, which can simmer confusion and misunderstanding among team members. 

Work styles: Every person has a different work style and speed to handle the same task. Someone who works fast might find it annoying to work with a slow-paced person, which can lead to conflicts. 

Task conflicts: Conflicts related to tasks are commonly seen among remote teams. These disputes could be on how to divide resources, which procedure to follow, and so on. 

Ways to Resolve Remote Workplace Conflicts 

Remote work is a new way to work now. According to Zapier, traditional office settings will be obsolete by 2030. So, managers have to buckle up and make a strategy to resolve remote workplace conflicts quickly. 

Here are a few practices that modern leaders can adopt to handle virtual team conflicts:

Define a proper protocol 

The remote work system might be new, but it's here to stay for a long time. Therefore, managers should now create a framework to work remotely. 

Set a protocol that will help your team to interact clearly. Also, explain the reason behind every protocol so that your team can understand the importance of remote work policies. 

Here are a few things that you must define to your remote team: 

Which information can be shared between remote employees 

How workers can communicate with one another 

Who needs to be informed on the project's progress, etc. 

You should also draft a conflict resolution plan and share it with your team. This way, your team will know how to resolve work conflicts between themselves. 

Recognize team achievements 

It is common knowledge that employee satisfaction is higher when organizations praise and reward good work. Obviously, when employees receive positive feedback, it will uplift their mood and productivity by 13%. 

However, you should not appreciate one employee for a project's success. In fact, you should recognize team efforts and reward the entire team. That will motivate employees and ease tension brewing between them. Also, conflicts are less likely to escalate when you provide 360-degree feedback to the entire team, not to just one member. 

Create an environment to be heard 

Remote employees often feel that they are left alone to deal with conflicts without any guidance. And this can build negative feelings towards coworkers and the organization.

Therefore, managers need to create an environment where employees can freely share their problems with the management. For example, schedule a monthly or weekly virtual meeting with the entire team and individual team members to give them an opportunity to discuss their problems. 

Support casual communication 

In traditional offices, employees get multiple opportunities to interact and get to know one another, like during lunch breaks, physical meetings, etc. But, virtually, employees don't get many opportunities to casually hang out with their coworkers, which can put a rift between them.  

Thus, you should organize casual communication sessions for your team members so they can bond and resolve misunderstandings on their own. With open casual communication, many workplace conflicts will get resolved among employees without managers' intervention. 

Follow buddy system 

When you are pairing two or more remote team members on a project, you should follow a buddy system. In this system, you should pair people based on their geographical location, culture, and work styles. 

This way, you can avoid many conflicts in advance. For long-term projects, a high level of collaboration is required; people living in the same geographical location might have brighter prospects to offer collaboration.

All in all, while pairing your remote workers on a project, carefully check their location, personality traits, and other personal factors. 

Handle conflicts immediately 

Conflicts don't start overnight. It starts long before the big loud voices explode. All the small jabs or side remarks that your employees pass on one another leads to big conflicts. 

Thus, when you notice a problem or get a report, don't prolong the matter. You should immediately go to the root cause of the problem and solve it as soon as possible. If you handle small conflicts often, you will never have to deal with a team battle. 

Final Remarks 

Remote work is new and challenging for both employees and managers. Thus, it is common for team members to feel frustrated and annoyed. Here being a manager, it is your responsibility to help your team and show them a way to resolve conflicts professionally. 

Today, open communication and a proper remote work policy are very important to address remote work conflicts in a timely fashion. 

That's in this post for now! But if you have any other tips to resolve remote workplace conflicts, please share them in the comments. 

This article is a guest blog written by Neha Manchanda. To contribute a guest post to Workast.com, please complete the expression of interest form here.

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