Let’s face it. Sometimes people just plain don’t like each other. So what’s a team leader to do in these situations? People usually attribute this sort of problem to strong personalities. Labelling the problem this way seems to be a justification for not doing anything about it. After all, one cannot change the basic nature of another person, right?
There are actions you can take as the team leader. Here are four.
Work towards a common Ideal
Engage the group in a conversation about what kind of team they want to have. Get them talking about behaviours that will make the team more successful and interesting for the members. Groups have their own unique cultures. Your job is to get the group to compare the culture they have to the one they want. When they have established their ideal culture, they will have a common goal to work for and will start to cooperate.
Sometimes people clash in the absence of clear leadership. Perhaps two or more people are positioning for power and control of the team. Assuming neither is right for the role, make it clear who is in charge – you! Once you have shown who is really in charge and that there is a strong and clear leadership, followers will automatically toe the line.
While it may be the least attractive option, it is probably the most effective. Talk with these people individually or together. Let them know that their behaviours are affecting the team. Work with them to understand the underlying problems and together develop solutions that will address the conflicts.
As a last resort, you as the leader should remove troublemakers from the team. If your gut is telling you that they are significantly cutting into productivity and effectiveness, and you have tried everything you and others can think of doing, this becomes a reasonable action. Take it.