conflicts within the team

I was excited to take this role as a director of one of the major programs in the country and I have already put in mind who are the best to help me achieve the goals of this programs. Two of my friend who we trained together and worked for years. When I took this role I was away from my “old” friend for some time and I did not know that they had a conflict and they are barely saying hi to each other. I appointed them to work with me because I trust their capability and skills, everyone will be managing part of the program. Unfortunately I realized that they don’t talk to each other “at all” and I have to be in the middle in many occasion to keep the work going. And this started to affect the work.

Honestly I don’t know what to do, specially both are good friends and they are good at what they do.


Different Billings for Same Procedure.


The administration burden

Participant comments on conflicts within the team

  1. You cannot mix personal matters with work. You need to call your friends into a meeting and let them know you hired them because of their excellent work and also because they were your friends hoping that all of you can come together and attain those goals you have put in place. You were not made aware that they would not be able to communicate with each other at work because of their personal conflict. Its affecting work now and you do not wish to be caught up with it. They need to leave it outside of work or you are left with no option , but have to let them both go . You definitely want to give it a chance to see if this situation at work can be changed between them . If they cannot you will know it’s time to find someone new for the position. This way you were honest with both your friends , you came clean with your concern with both of them at the meeting and you gave them a chance. I would take this approach because both both of them are your friends.
    Now if they were not your friends , you know the answer – we won’t be having this discussion ?

  2. It’s about removing the personal side (which I believe you are), and setting clear expectations. If the expectation is for them to independently and effectively work together, and they cannot do that, they cannot work for you. I’d ask them each separately if they feel they can meet those expectations. If they can’t, tell them they need to consider if this is the job for them, or you might have to make that decision for them. However, be clear that the business needs to operate and be successful. Their actions (and inactions) are detrimental to the business. Assure them you are fully confident they can put personal matters aside and behave and interact professionally.

  3. This is a tough situation. Employee conflict is important to deal with swiftly and directly. It’s important to monitor the health of your team dynamics and try to minimize the drama. If you notice the issues, it’s most certain that others on your team could feel “caught in the middle.” All of this can negatively impact your productivity, team morale, and even your company’s reputation.
    Ask yourself these questions, “Is this situation impacting the work we’re all doing?” and “How is this situation impacting the work environment, both for those two involved and for others around them?” These are important to honestly think about and reflect on.
    You don’t need your team members to be best friends; however, you do need them to be pleasant and professional, to work together productively, and to not create a tense or unpleasant work environment. Your feedback should be focused on their individual contributions and productivity, not on their personal feelings toward each other. Talk explicitly about how you expect team members to relate with each other and when needed, speak to them privately and respectfully when you see behavior that doesn’t match up with what you want.
    Is it possible to have them each work on separate projects? If they must work together, here’s some helpful advice:
    1.) Talk with them individually about your observations. It’s important to understand their reasons for acting the way they are.
    2.) Set clear expectations in terms of how they need to behave toward one another. Employees must put their personal differences aside and build a productive working relationship to drive business success. Be clear on behavior that will and will not be tolerated and outline how it has affected their performance. Keep things business oriented.
    3.) Make these two employees accountable for suggestions on what needs to be done to improve their working relationship.
    4.) Refocus their attention on their important work and the overall value it brings to the organization.
    Bottom line: Don’t ignore this situation in hopes that it will go away. It sounds like it will need intervention to be resolved. Good luck!

  4. I understand that you are in a very tricky situation. Its very important to align them for the better performance. This happens many a times in big organisations where promoters stop communicating with each others. You need a couple of meetings with them starting from one to one and then combined meeting and emphasising on team work for better working. There are a lot of team building activities practiced by many organisations which you can try too.

  5. We have to be professional at all times in terms of our work. Hiring should be based on skills and attitude. Having this problem is quite difficult for you because you are invested in the both of them personally. My suggestions are the following:
    1. Bring them to the table for a dialogue and if you are not confident (because they are your friends, then bring somebody neutral and to explain to them the impact of their behaviour to the program.
    2. If the dialogue will not succeed then maybe ask them on how can the work condition be modified or improved. Emphasis is given to professionalism and ethics in work.
    3. If their relationship is beyond repair and it is hampering on the progress of the program, then maybe look for other substitutes.

  6. We are experiencing a similar situation in our department where the interactions of the physician members of a particular section have become so toxic that they are starting to have a negative impact on operations. After unsuccessful attempts to remedy this situation internally, we have reached out to members of our Psychiatry Department to explore setting up some counseling sessions for the members of this department as a group. I completely agree with others who have responded that it is critical to separate personal issues from the professional behavior required to work effectively as a team. I cannot report anything about the success or failure of this new approach to dealing with severe personality conflicts as we are just initiating these efforts now, but I think there may be potential in tapping into some of the resources that are already available to us in health care, such as the counseling and therapy at which our mental health colleagues are already quite skilled.

  7. Large organizations have personal / structural conflicts in built in them that often lead to these kind of situations.
    Company culture / Values often comes to the rescue. Our Organization too has had similar challenges with teams / persons operating in Silos.
    We introduced a new value “team up to excel” in PHILIPS some time back and had rewards and recognition to support this value to be adopted.
    It took time but now we are reaping the benefits.

  8. I do believe that personal matters should be treated separately far from creating yourself a problem it has a great impacto on the institutional goals . If the problem affects negatively on the accomplishments of the institutional goals one of them has to let go, aside from your personal affections, the leader that is needed the most and has a added value to the organization must stay.

  9. This is a very tough situation, because it involves private life, personal feelings and professional performance. I would have separate discussions with both to find out about the nature of the issue and whether it can be overcome.

    If one of both is willing and the other unwilling to set aside personal issues for the sake of the situation, this is the person to keep on board. A culture-competent mediator could be hired if both agree to resolve their issue and if you cannot be the mediator yourself.

    Finally, if both are unwilling to improve the situation, you might consider to restructure your leadership team.

  10. Be Careful of hiring friends, unfortunately this sounds like a tough situation. It may be best to meet with them individually and then together. Hopefully a happy balance can be obtained to meet the goals of the work that is needed get done. It will be important to be direct and you may want to involve someone from your human resources department to help mediate and review the hospital policies.

  11. I like the idea of involving a coach to help the two individuals in this scenario. This also helps to remove you from the middle of the situation. We have a designated physician leader coach for our organization and in this situation each individual would likely need to meet with her for 3 sessions, perhaps 2 separate sessions each and then bring them together for the third session in the same room (or some variation in this based on the coach’s assessment). Having an objective outside perspective could help analyze and de-stress the situation quite a bit while also helping them to understand the work needs to happen with them working together.

  12. Conflicts are natural as we grow and changes happen in the workplace. It is important to understand the triggers for the conflict and create opportunities through social events to bring the positive emotions among team members. For example, I often use the conflict resolution skills from middle school and preteens who have a lot of personal view points and set paths. we need a distracting event or activity to lighten up their souls so they start feeling good about each other. Also, we must gauge the intensity and/or impact of this on the organizational objectives as well as their career objectives and take appropriate social or professional work setting to address the situation. Remember, food and fun activities typically bring people together so use them to reduce personal frictions. Conflict resolution and handling is an art that needs to continuously self-reflected through positive leadership and assertive mind. particularly, that of friends.

  13. I agree with Zing – first thing is to understand the root of the conflits – is it professional or personal. You won’t be able to solve it right away, however putting common goal and going thru some social events as well – will help to eliminate the issue or at least you’ll be able to go futher with the project. I’d also recommend you to ensure coaching 1-1 sessions between you and each of the guys. Try also to find someone in your organization who they both respect and involve this person in the discussion.

  14. This is a very difficult situation, but you have some very good comments so far. I agree with the comment that the individuals need to be held accountable to maintain a professional attitude and relationship while at work. Starting with informal open discussions between you and each of them individually about the conflict may be helpful. It may help build trust with each of them, and it may help you understand what each of them needs from the workplace to be successful regaining a professional relationship with their colleague.

  15. It is important first to understand their viewpoints separately. The important thing is to maintain a healthy balance of constructive difference of opinion; behavior and not the person. In a round table talk, rationalize with them the importance of resolving it by discussing the impact the conflict is having on team dynamics, performance and the organization. It will be important to have a neutral “third party” involved in conflict resolution for example, HR since the two people are your friends.

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