Dealing with Inner-Team Conflict.

Posted on October 29th, 2012 in Blog.

Conflicts between teammates are the most dangerous challenges presented to any manager. Let it get out of control and the whole team could break apart. It’s not uncommon for players to refuse to turn up to training, or the matches themselves, if the environment turns toxic. And it’s not just the people directly involved in the conflict who are affected. Bystanders are not going to put up with it. Nobody wants to sit back and watch people bicker all day. As the manager, its imperative conflict is resolved as quickly as possible.

Spotting Conflict Early

Normally, people are told to ignore rumours and hearsay. When it comes to conflict the exact opposite is true. Listen for any rumours of conflict. If they involve two or more members of the team look out for them. Any conflict which boils over shouldn’t come as a shock or a surprise. The manager should be prepared to step in immediately.

Coming to blows as part of the conflict is the step to avoid since this is often the point of no return. The moment someone raises their hands the situation becomes unsalvageable. Step in immediately and nip conflict in the bud before it can gain a foothold in the team.

When Things Get Hot

Once the conflict has escalated and two or more players are actively challenging each other it’s time to step in. The role of the coach is essential at this point. The first thing to do is to separate them. Don’t be afraid of stopping the training session or calling a halt to the match if things begin to spiral out of control.

One trick to use is to simply pull the combatants apart. Not necessarily physically, but shepherding them away from each other. Having another member of staff on hand to help with this is always recommended. Just remember to keep the rest of the team away from the problem since its normally adding fuel to the fire.

Tactics for Dealing With Conflict

  1. Speak to them individually. Ask them what the problem is, even if the problem is already well-known. Getting both parties talking will help to cool the situation down.
  2. Bring them together. Having them brought together where they can speak without fear of reprisal in a calm environment is one of the key tactics to use in any conflict. Usually, this is used when a conflict can’t simply be brushed away without further action.
  3. Teambuilding. Before and after conflict, managers should always be looking to build bonds within the team. Splits happen when not enough attention is paid to teambuilding. Taking the team on trips or challenging them with a tournament are good ways to help with this.

Crime and Punishment

Punishment should always be a last resort. Some people would say banning offending players from games helps with conflict. It doesn’t. The problem with this approach is the person banned is going to feel resentful towards the other person, and even the coach. The only time when punishment should come into play is when the conflict reaches the heights of John Terry and Wayne Bridge.

Related posts:

  1. Why Managing a Team is More Than Just Arranging Games
  2. How Online Sports Team Management Makes Running A Team Easy