5 Tips for Navigating Remote Team Conflict Resolution

5 Tips for Navigating Remote Team Conflict Resolution

How you relate to your colleagues and supervisor, as well as navigate remote team conflict resolution, will inevitably impact many aspects of your professional life: your productivity, your job happiness, your ability to advance, and yes, even the opportunities you receive.

I recall taking an intriguing test on working styles with a few colleagues on a remote team. In a few cases, we were surprised by the results—while in others, we could’ve seen a mile away that an ambitious get-things-done director was a driver, and a helpful jack-of-all-trades coordinator was amiable. Knowing what style each of us leaned toward did a lot to help explain our actions and tendencies, but in reality, this is only half the battle. It’s important for employees to know how to bridge the gaps, navigate remote team conflict, and resolve any interpersonal issues as they arise.

And they do happen, especially when team members communicate largely asynchronously or without visual cues, as is common in remote work. Be it a gaffe or misinterpretation or a disagreement with a colleague, it’s tough enough to resolve these things face-to-face. When you’re remote, resolving issues takes on new meaning and complexities.

If you’ve found yourself in need of mending a remote team conflict, here are a few tips to get you started:

1.    Be proactive.

PR pros will tell you that in tough times, the best course of action is to get out in front of bad press; the same goes for conflict resolution. Initiate contact immediately (ideally) or shortly after an issue arises with your coworker or boss. Acknowledge what happened.

2.    Apologize.

Realize that some harm was done—whether intended or not—and it’s up to you to let the other person know that you regret it. Call or reach out to initiate a video chat, in which you affirm your desire to have a positive working relationship.

3.    Give space, if needed.

You and your teammate might need some time to reflect on what happened and to possibly cool off. After apologizing, gauge whether or not it’s an OK time to continue the conversation, or if backing away might give you both better perspective.

4.    Seek to understand.

When you do connect, genuinely ask to hear your coworker’s take on the situation and be sure to fully absorb their words before responding. Listening is an often underrated skill that can aid in turning around a misstep or harsh response.

5.    Collaborate.

Any relationship is a two-way street and likely one with a few potholes. Make it a point for you both to work together toward a mutually agreeable outcome. A resolution (not necessarily a compromise!) with buy-in will lead to long-lasting results and will help get you both back on the right footing.

Spend less of your valuable work time agonizing over an unresolved remote team conflict behind a computer screen, or mired in disagreements that seem unending. Invest your attention on repairing and cultivating good relationships in support of the job to be done. In the process, you’ll not only make progress at work, you’ll demonstrate via action that you’re a team player.


By Kristi DePaul | July 13, 2016 | Categories: Build a Remote Team


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