Contents & Process Conflicts

Team conflicts are often caused by:

  • misunderstandings and/or disagreements over methods, processes and roles;
  • personality clashes among team members;
  • differences in goals;
  • desires to achieve personal or individual credit;
  • lack of co-operation among team members;
  • failure to deal with poor performance;
  • lack of authority;
  • non-compliance with team ground rules and operating guidelines.

Role conflicts often occur when:

  • a member of the group is uncertain of what is expected of them in their role on the project team;
  • there are power differences between and among the members of a team.

It is often helpful to categorise conflict into two distinct kinds: Content and Process.

Content conflict is that which arises over differences of substance and values. Whether based on research, experience or opinions, it is the representation our point of view regardless of its difference from others’. This conflict is a necessary part of the team function, and once we find the points of disagreement, we can discover ways to resolve the dispute, if the parties desire a resolution.

Differences over process also give rise to conflict. How we go about expressing our positions on any particular topic can often result in completely unexpected reactions from others. Teams that avoid dealing with conflict over process can be prevented from dealing with legitimate differences over content.

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