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Although leader-driven teams or self-directed teams enhance creativity and productivity, whenever you bring together people with varying personalities, backgrounds, expertise and experiences, conflicts are inevitable.

If you are a team leader, factor in the following to prevent and resolve in-group conflicts:

1. Select the ‘right’ team. If you hire a team in which members complement each other’s skill sets, experience, expertise and personalities, then half the battle is already won. To ensure that candidates are a perfect ‘fit’, conduct competency-based interviews and ask applicants to cite specific examples of how they handle team projects and resolve interpersonal issues. This will help you gauge whether they are team players or not.

2. Set ‘team’ targets. Instead of assigning individual goals, set team objectives; this will encourage collaboration and incentivise members to cooperate and help each other to resolve issues and achieve team targets. This will also maximise team productivity as well as the organisation’s profits; therefore, award bonuses and sales commissions when team – and not individual – targets are met.

3. Focus on well-being. Ensure that the compensation structure is not only monetary-based but includes benefits that are important to your employees. This will ensure you have a happy, committed and motivated workforce. Initiate employee well-being programmes such as health insurance for team members and their families, in-house gym facilities, flexible working hours for young mothers or single parents, and educational leave for employees who want to pursue higher education.

4. Demonstrate team spirit. Asking your team members to adopt an inclusive mindset will not be effective if you are perceived as someone who only looks out for their self-interest. Remember, maintaining discipline is important, but it is equally important to ensure that your team can reach out to you when they need to discuss professional and personal issues that may be affecting their performance. Trust and reliance are at the heart of developing a productive team; delegate responsibility, allow room for error and foster a ‘happy’ work environment.

– Arshia Wasif Ahmed
The writer is a corporate trainer.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 15, 2015.