The Impact of Unresolved Conflict on Team Performance

This article was contributed by Peter Jackson who works as a Conflict Management Specialist at PMC.

Conflict is an unavoidable element of how humans interact, particularly in teams and organizations. After all, it’s different objectives, views and personalities clashing that can often lead to development and creativity. Yet, if left unresolved, conflict has the potential to go from being productive to becoming a hindrance – affecting team productivity and overall success drastically. Here we explore the substantial effect of this unresolved conflict on team performance, as well as the importance of managing it properly, backed up by personal accounts.

The Seeds of Disruption

An unresolved conflict among team members is like a hidden seed waiting to be discovered. As it is given time to take root, it grows into an unwelcoming plant that chokes productivity and collaboration. During my writing career I faced a similar situation. Creative differences arose for a major project and some of the group chose not to confront the issue, which created a tense environment. Ignoring the problem only made it worse and hindered our progress as communication and cooperation began to diminish.

Breakdown in communication

The breakdown of productive communication is one of the common outcomes of unresolved conflict. In my experience, this was evident in a collaborative writing project – compatibilities that could have created a positive exchange of ideas became immobilized due to conflicting views. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, team members were preoccupied with avoiding further discord, resulting in stalled creativity and subpar results.

Erosion of Trust

Trust is fundamental to any successful team. Unresolved issues, however, can erode that trust and lead to suspicion and cynicism. I have seen this firsthand when two important players had a conflict which undermined the whole team’s faith in each other. Every move was viewed with doubt and assumptions of hidden objectives took precedence. The end result was that instead of uniting together for one purpose, members were more concerned about their own interests.

Distracted Focus

Teams grappling with unrestrained conflict often find their concentration scattered from the goal. The psychological and emotional distress of unresolved disputes takes away important mental capacity that could be better used for problem-solving and creativeness. My participation in a venture plagued by internal conflict unearthed me to the effects on focus firsthand. As the differences heightened, conversations about the project intertwined with personal complaints, leaving little space for productive thought or imaginative thinking.

Stifled innovation

A harmonious team provides an ideal platform for creativity, allowing different perspectives to come to the fore and generate novel solutions. Conversely, unresolved conflict can be detrimental to innovation as it limits collaboration and encourages each party to prioritize their own interests. In my experience as a writer, I have seen first-hand how unresolved tensions between team members can transform even the most resourceful brainstorming into a fruitless endeavor.

The Path to Resolution with CMA Consulting

Increasingly, companies are turning to experts like CMA Consulting to navigate the complex landscape of conflict resolution, realizing the debilitating effects of unresolved conflicts. CMA Consulting’s deep understanding of conflict resolution science equips teams with the tools needed to resolve conflicts constructively, creating an environment conducive to collaboration.

In conclusion

Conflict can be a major obstacle for teams, sucking the energy away, eroding trust and inhibiting creative thinking. We know from our own experiences how hard unaddressed issues can hit team morale and performance. This is why it’s so important to tackle any problems head-on by dealing with the conflict quickly and efficiently, with experts like CMA Consulting able to help in more complex cases. Confronting difficulty shouldn’t be met with fear; instead, being proactive about problem-solving can result in a much smoother journey and great success.

Team Performance and Unresolved Conflict FAQ

How does unresolved conflict affect teams?

Team conflict refers to disagreements, disputes, or tensions that have not been addressed or resolved. These conflicts can lead to decreased communication, eroded trust, distracted focus, stifled innovation, and lowered performance.

What is the impact of unresolved conflict on team communication?

The unresolved conflict among team members hinders open communication. Guarded discussions and withheld information become common, hindering the free exchange of ideas.

Is it possible for unresolved conflict to erode trust within a team?

As a result of unresolved conflict, trust within a team erodes, resulting in skepticism and suspicion. Team members begin to question each other’s motives and decisions, preventing teamwork.

How does unresolved conflict distract a team from its goals?

Conflict diverts team members’ attention from the task at hand and consumes the energy that could be focused on problem-solving and innovation.

What is the impact of unresolved conflict on a team’s ability to innovate?

The strained atmosphere makes it difficult for team members to collaborate effectively and share creative ideas. The fear of exacerbating conflict can prevent the free flow of innovative ideas.

How can organizations resolve unresolved conflict within their teams?

By fostering open communication, encouraging transparency, and providing conflict resolution training, organizations can address unresolved conflict. Team members can also navigate conflicts more constructively by seeking external expertise, such as CMA Consulting’s.

How does CMA Consulting contribute to conflict resolution?

Conflict resolution science is a specialty of CMA Consulting. Their guidance equips teams with the necessary tools to address conflicts constructively, promoting collaboration, effective communication, and a healthier teamwork environment.

Does conflict itself always harm a team?

The key lies in addressing conflicts proactively and resolving them in a way that promotes team cohesion and productivity. Healthy conflict is not always detrimental.

In order to maintain performance, how can teams ensure conflict resolution?

A team can ensure conflict resolution by cultivating an open communication culture, addressing conflicts as they arise, and seeking professional assistance when necessary. The potential consequences of unresolved conflict can motivate teams to prioritize resolving it.

The ultimate takeaway regarding unresolved conflict and team performance is?

Team performance is greatly impacted by unresolved conflict, which hinders communication, trust, focus, and innovation. It is possible for teams to create a harmonious and productive working environment by recognizing the importance of proactive conflict resolution and seeking expert guidance such as that provided by CMA Consulting. Addressing conflict is not a sign of weakness, it’s a testament to a team’s commitment to success and growth.

About the author

Peter Jackson, a Conflict Management Specialist at PMC with over 15 years of experience, operates his private practice specializing in conflict resolution training for companies. Renowned for mediating complex conflicts, Peter’s expertise ensures peaceful resolutions. He’s dedicated to enhancing conflict resolution strategies, sharing insights, and contributing to the field’s growth.