It is a common misconception that conflict in a team is bad and that it should be avoided. When friction leads to a breakdown of cooperation, we often blame a lack of communication, poor leadership, distrust among employees, unfounded or unnecessary rivalries, or simply high stress leading to burnout. While these are definitely issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner, conflict in general is healthy and normal in group settings. One such conflict, dysfunctional conflict, is what can be commonly described as a falling out among employees due to issues that encapsulate many if not all of the issues described above and more.
While each problem in isolation does not seem difficult to fix, the difficulty of resolving dysfunctional conflict is due to the multitude of potential offending items and the innately complex nature of human dynamics working in a group. Many times, a mediator or arbitrator is brought in to evaluate the set of problems causing the conflict and coming up with strategies that can resolve them in a holistic manner. It may involve trust building exercises, team retreats, or creating an office-wide conflict resolution policy. Dysfunctional conflicts are commonplace in the office but finding strategies that work for your specific team is the key.