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A Team in Conflict Can’t Be Agile

It’s tough to be agile when team members collide. Heck, it’s tough to just get anything done when you have members on the team that don’t get along.

It’s unfortunate but it happens — often. Why can’t we all just get along?

Hostilities develop for many reasons. At times, it seems that there is no reason at all. Regardless of the reasoning, you have to deal with the conflict or the entire team is in jeopardy.

The topic of conflict resolution is complex and extensive. I can’t do justice to it in a single blog post but here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • Confront the problem. How you approach the combatants depends on your relationship with each. If your relationship with them is strong, an informal discussion can work. A weaker relationship demands a more formal approach.
  • Chat with each individual privately and informally to express your concern. Try to get each to acknowledge that a problem exists and that the problem is hurting each of them and the team.
  • Meet with the parties together. Identify the underlying issue(s) for both. What is each unhappy about? What does each really want of the other? Ask lots of questions. Get them to talk openly.
  • Brainstorm. Toss ideas around. Get the participants to present ideas and suggest solutions. Seek out a compromise that is genuinely acceptable to both sides.
  • Agree to try out the compromise solution. Implement it and re-evaluate as needed.

You don’t have to be their administrative manager, tech lead, project manager, ScrumMaster, etc. You might just be a team member genuinely concerned about team dynamics.

This won’t be easy but it has to be done. You can’t be agile when your team is in conflict.

Updated: December 31, 2010 — 5:07 pm

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