In the workforce conflicts are unavoidable. And in virtual teams, they can be even more challenging to resolve. Virtual team conflict can cause many problems. It will pause productivity, inhibit creativity, and lower morale. If managed properly, though, solving conflict will build trust and interpersonal relationships throughout the team.
Conflicts can be between employees, a team member and leader, or they could be completely task related. Interpersonal conflicts can at their worst lead to someone quitting their job, as it is a common reason for doing so. But task conflicts are usually less complicated and tend to result in better team fusion in the long run.
In virtual teams, person to person conflicts don’t happen very often because team members are focused on their tasks and not on office issues.
Hence, working in different time zones has its benefits. But when problems arise from task issues, things can hit the fan. All it takes is a misinterpreted e-mail and tempers can rise. Since communication isn’t always face to face and instantaneous, it is harder to be sure one’s ideas are understood.
A good way to manage task conflicts is to use an online discussion board. Virtual teams that use online discussion boards can solve problems faster by not letting them linger. As soon as an issue comes up, a team member can post it on the board. Other team members can see that post and when they have time mull it over, then post their suggestions. In discussion boards, team members can post honest feedback on issues or ideas without fear of persecution from peers because the posts can be made anonymously. The anonymous posts will build trust in the team since ideas will be discussed without bias or office politics.
Virtual Team Website
Your team needs a place where they can rally together to get things done. This means having a shared workspace where project files, updates, team member information, and discussion posts organized by topics, should be available to all team members all the time. This must be used only for issues that involve the whole team and should be managed by the team leader, or a site manager should be appointed.
In team websites, there can be private discussions among a group of team members where issues are discussed without the intervention of the boss. Once the task conflict is resolved, the information is posted for the whole team to see.
When team conflicts arise, make sure you address them ASAP. Post the issue on the discussion board. Give your team members time to chime in with suggestions. Weigh the pros and cons to weed out the bad ideas, and make sure everyone knows your final decision. If you manage the team website, properly conflicts will be resolved quickly, and progress can continue smoothly.
Copyright 2016 Viral Solutions LLC
by Rob Carpen
Rob is a content writer and editor, specializing in a variety of fields. He helps B2B and B2C clients with blogs, social media, press releases and web content that create more value for their marketing campaigns. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He played Club Rugby at IUP for four years. He loves Rugby and recently attended the Rugby World Cup in Newcastle, England – New Zealand All Blacks v. Tonga Match. Rob is passionate about craft beer. He is transitioning his eight years of home brewing to earn his professional brewer certificate.