The biggest enemy to people is people. Not everyone on a team is going to get along well 100% of the time. As a leader, and someone being tested during a job interview to see if you have leadership skills, you might be asked about how you control conflict within a group, and what you do to get your team members to get along and move forward effectively.
Behavioral Interview Question: What is the most significant conflict that has occurred between members of your team? What did you do to diffuse the situation?
Handling internal team conflict can be a delicate task, and one that doesn’t always have an easy answer. But there should be an answer. Letting conflicts fester or simply telling people to stop their negative behavior is not a great example of leadership and it’s certainly not going to impress a potential employer.
What leadership techniques diffuse team conflict? Unfortunately there isn’t a straight forward answer since true team conflict only comes up in some settings (most of the time it goes unspoken).
Rather than trying to focus your answer on a leadership style, have a think about key strategies that would be effective. Strategies that can work include:
- Forcing people together on a project that utilizes their talents.
- Asking people individually what the problem is, then addressing it.
- Siding with both or more employees in a public setting.
There are other strategies that may also work and if you have a solution that was genuinely effective, feel free and include it.
“In my experience, team conflict is often under the surface. Rarely do team members openly fight. One day I sensed tension between two co workers on my team. I took both of them aside, explained how I could tell that the tension was there and how i felt it was affecting their productivity. I told them they were free to talk to me and there would be no repercussions from anything they shared in the discussions.
It ended up being a personal issue so I won’t share the specific details, but once I found out what the issue was I set them both in a room together. I told them I spoke with both of them and summarized the issue. I talked about a few ideas for solutions and then encouraged them to speak openly. They did disagree briefly, but then started to find some common ground. I felt the issue simply needed to be brought to the surface. Their productivity increased from them on.”
Honesty is always the best policy, provided that the honesty makes an impressive answer. Look back towards any time you dealt with conflict and see if there is a way you can frame it to prove that you have leadership skills.