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9 conflict-resolution team building activities backed up by science

Anna Kvasnevska

Team Building Expert & Writer

Conflict in the workplace is virtually unavoidable. How we choose to address it sets a good leader from an average manager. 

A strong leader isn't afraid of conflict. Instead, they use it as an opportunity to improve team dynamics and performance. That's why the world's leading companies like team building activities for conflict resolution.

And that's why you should understand what causes conflict before organizing your next series of team building activities for workplace conflict resolution.

Diver deeper with other resources on team building: 

Causes of conflict in the workplace

Forbes identifies two significant causes of conflict at work: communication and emotions. Yet, it might be a tad more complicated than that. 

SHRM identifies at least 10 causes of workplace conflict. These, together with Claire Meyer's 6 sources of workplace cultural conflicts, can be summarized as 3 major reasons for conflict at the workplace

  1. Personality differences among coworkers; 
  2. Unclear job description and expectations;
  3. Indifferent senior management.

There's no one-size-fits-all kind of solution here. Instead, try to focus your conflict resolution team building activities around communication

Identify the source of the conflict and work from there.

Conflict-resolution activities to embrace personality differences

1. Play Guess What? with your team

Get to know your teammates better and learn to accept each other for who you really are. Guess What? is our all-time favorite game! The participants guess personal and work-related facts about each other to bond. 

The outcome: gain a new perspective on your colleagues outside of the conflict.

2. Take a personality test

You may go ahead and find out what your tea preferences reveal about your personality. There's no harm in that. In fact, it might be a fun team building exercise. Yet, for more serious results, consider investing in professional personality tests designed for work. 

The outcome: understand what drives your coworkers and what the most effective models of cooperation for them are.

3. Bond over non-work-related events

One of the best ways to prevent workplace conflict from repeating is to get to know each other as people, not just as colleagues. Try participating in after-hours like culinary workshops, wine tasting, or scavenger hunts. 

The outcome: feel like a team outside of the office and nurture friendship. 

Pro hint: you can also do all these things online, in case you work remotely!

4. Find common ground

One of the keys to practical problem-solving is learning to see that among all the differences, there are still values you share. Play a simple conflict-resolution team building game, where each player needs to find at least one interest in common with other participants. 

The outcome: learn to search for similarities, not differences.

Team building activities to clarify job expectations 

5. Run a retrospective

Retro is a simple yet effective instrument in the Agile methodology. Did the conflict occur because of the project? Gather together, and outline what went wrong, what could be improved, and what was helpful. Learn from your own mistakes and grow as a team!

The outcome: clarify each other's responsibilities and roles to avoid future conflicts.

6. Make a 12-week plan

Need an additional insight into who's doing what for the company and why? Together, line up an actionable quarter plan. This way, every team member will have a chance to speak up, share their perspective, and ask questions. 

The outcome: set the common goals and ensure everyone's on the same page.

7. Write a new mission statement for your role

Forget what your main page says and try to answer in one sentence: What does your role and/or company mean for you? Once you're done, share your mission statements with the group and see how much you have in common.

The outcome: see value in your colleagues' work.

Conflict-resolution activities to promote empathy among senior management

8. Take an empathy training

Team leads have to understand the struggles their team is facing. That's why organizing an event led by a professional coach may be your best bet to promote empathetic management. 

The outcome: resolve conflicts with a wellness-first workplace environment. 

9. Disagree without debating

This simple yet effective team building activity for senior management is a conversation that encourages sharing. You need to ensure it is done in a safe space and your team feels comfortable with sharing their point of view. Each participant gets to tell their story, emotions, and impressions. Meanwhile, the group needs to be supportive and free of judgment, even if they were affected by the event.

The outcome: learn to disagree with another person without making them an enemy.

Best practices for conflict resolution in the workplace

To address the conflict effectively, you need to create a space for the involved parties to hear each other out and find a mutually beneficial solution. 

  1. Identify the core source of conflict and note down some possible points of agreement. 
  2. Promote better feedback for any future incidents. 
  3. Remind the parties in conflict that the goal is to find the best solution
  4. Allow your team to share their perspective on the problem and express their feelings. 
  5. Don't make accusations - focus on the events, not personalities. 
  6. Create an action plan for conflict resolution. 
  7. Review the incident after some time and learn from the experience as a team. 

Remember: conflicts are natural, and finding the right resolution paths is exemplary leadership. As long as the team is interested in seeing the common ground, workplace conflict can be a real blessing in disguise.

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