Managing Conflict and Interpersonal Differences on a Team: 9 Ways to Bring Unity

Different personalities are the spice of life. But they can also bring conflict and many differences among people. How can we create unity on a team of varied individuals who don’t always see eye to eye?

A diverse team can be a successful and high-functioning team. They bring a variety of viewpoints and visions to our organizations. What would it be like if you just had a team of Type A personalities or solely introverted personas? What kind of difficulties would that present? What strengths and skills would your company lack as a whole?

In short— many. One thing’s for sure, it would be boring.

A wide range of personalities represents a variety of skills, insights and potential for your company. If you are always hiring the same type of people, this is a problem in itself.

Yet, similar to our teams, our families have a wide range of personalities, quirks and temperaments. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t work together or develop a deeper understanding of each other.

In life, we often find ourselves working with different personalities and leading them as well. When individuals don’t see eye to eye, conflicts and challenges can frequently arise. But when we are aware of these differences, a team can be unified and work to be high-performing.

Here are nine ways to handle conflict and personality differences on your team:

1. Understand the personalities on your team. Be aware of the strengths, weaknesses and different temperaments on your team. This clues you in to potential challenges that may arise and helps you understand how to communicate effectively.

2. Clarify the goal. Set precise goals. Make sure each team member’s role is clearly defined.

3. Take time to get to know each of your team members. Set up lunch or coffee with each person. Just because you know they’re an Enneagram Type 8 does not mean you know the person or even necessarily what makes them tick. Take time to get to know each individual.

4. Occasionally shake things up. Take a project or a week and change how you do things. Offering your employees opportunities in different roles allows you to see what they’re capable of and may reveal new skills.

5. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business. It is easy for individuals to take things to heart. Remind them to speak respectfully to one another, but to not take things personally.

6. Don’t let Type As or big egos take over. It’s easy to allow large personalities in the room to run the show. Don’t let them. They can offer a lot of drive that is essential for your team, but they can also run over the other talent and ideas in the room.

7. Make space for arguments. Don’t ignore the disagreements or encourage a work culture that does. Working through differences of opinions and dealing with conflict head-on is a massive part of teamwork.

8. Maintain a peaceful and positive culture. By not avoiding the elephant in the room, you are also contributing to a more peaceful environment. Be consistent in increasing a set standard of patience and understanding.

9. Reconsider the role. At times there will be personalities that don’t work well with the team. If you continually deal with a clashing character who can’t be a team player, maybe it is time to restructure.

Overall in life, personal indifferences are inevitable. But this doesn’t mean that a varied group of people can’t successfully be a team.

We want a team with different personalities, skills and strengths. If we are seeking to lead high-functioning teams that are capable and flexible, we need to equip ourselves with a team of a variety of personalities. It may require more work, but what great things in life don’t require a bit more from us?