Eight Tips for Calming Warring Teams

“I’ve got to have these two teams work together in harmony but, they’re at each other’s throats now!”

While companies strive for internal harmony among associates, often that’s not realty.  Teams feeling territorial, threatened or jealous take aim at the source of this stress which could be another team. And a power battle ensues.

As a leader, it’s your job to mollify the teams and get them focused on the whole, not just their area. But how do you do that?  I’m glad you asked…

Here are eight essential steps for calming warring teams:

1. Know the compelling challenge

Too often leaders will put their teams together to brainstorm what needs to get fixed. Generally, this is done as a band-aid that often backfires. You must know the core issue that is bifurcating your teams.

2. Know the politics involved

There are always politics. It’s important to read the tea leaves on who is doing what to whom. Who is the leader? Who is the muck-raker? If you can neutralize their efforts, you have made great strides.

3. Meet with each team leader

You do this to establish trust and a clear understanding of their “side” of the issue. This communicates a nice level of empathy and respect. And give you some inside information to stem the tide of confrontation.

4. Is integration possible?

This is not an easy question to ask, but ask it you must. You’ve got to honest with yourself and see the possibility before you can facilitate it in this plenary session. If these teams are just not going to blend well together, find another way to impact the way they work with each other.

5. Prioritize the issues

You won’t solve all the issues at once. So, which of them are having the greatest impact on the teams involved and preventing collaboration. Address those first. As you move further down the list, others may be willing to take on the smaller issues.

6. Determine what issues need to be vented

Politically through this diligence you’ll discover what issues need to be vented to clear the way to a new normal

7. Present clear behaviors that each team must accept

A debate is healthy provided each team understands the ground rules for successful communication. Rule #1: Listen without bias. Rule #2: Do not interrupt someone. Rule #3: Stay open to new ideas and trust each other.

8. Create the “New Normal” with joint authorship

Each team member wants to feel they made a difference and contributed  to the solution. Nothing works better than for each side to co-author how they will operate going forward. Once they realize that they’ve created it, they’ll own it. LET THEM. It’s their show, not yours. Co-authoring is a great action to facilitate to show the entire team how concerned you are for their buy-in and homeostasis.

Is there a ninth…or tenth…tip that has worked for you? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!