Managing Conflict with Belbin

Conflict is essential for teams, but it has to be handled in the right way.

Conflict Means Understanding Differences 

Ever noticed how often we talk about differences when it comes to conflict? We say that people ‘can’t get past their differences.’

When we use this kind of language, it could be that the disagreement at hand is not about one particular issue, but is bringing along a lot of ‘baggage,’ in terms of how particular people (or the team as a whole) have interacted in the past.

When a team keeps running into the same kinds of difficulties, the language of Belbin Team Roles can help to focus on the bigger picture – differences of objectives, approaches and mindsets.

This depersonalizes the conflict, allowing team members to see beyond the emotion of the moment and try and reframe the discussion in a way that will be helpful to the team and organization as a whole

Constructive Conflict

  •  What do we need for constructive conflict? Fostering the environment for constructive conflict in teams is a big ask. Conflict aversion is strong and it isn’t enough to tell people that disagreement is healthy and hope for the best. In order to use conflict effectively, we need the skills and mindset to do so.
  • Rules of engagement. Conflict rituals’ or commonly agreed rules of engagement can help people to engage with conflict in a constructive way. This might be specifying that people should go first to the person they have a problem with, that they should offer proposed solutions, or at which point to involve a third party as a mediator. This can make disagreements more of a process and remove some of the unknown elements from the equation.
  • Psychological safety. In order for people to argue effectively, psychological safety needs to be an integral part of the team’s make-up. Psychological safety is the idea that, in order to succeed, people in teams need to feel safe to take risks and make mistakes without fear of recrimination. Establishing psychological safety frees up time and cognitive energy so that the team can expend it on projects, rather than threats from within. Read more about using Belbin to establish psychological safety in teams.
  • A proactive approach. Rather than waiting for conflict over a particular issue to arise, take a proactive approach. This might involve identifying how people like to work, and where areas of misalignment or tension are likely to occur. Ask the team to provide ideas and feedback on tackling these differences and to devise strategies for handling them. This helps everyone with the identification process and gives them a vested interest in making the solutions work.

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Lindsay Lalla

Lindsay Lalla is the VP of Marketing and Client Support for Belbin North America. Most recently, she has been spearheading the introduction of the Belbin Team Role methodology into North America. Lindsay is a skilled facilitator, and also runs the Belbin Accreditation classes where she certifies others in the Belbin method.
Lindsay’s formal education is in instruction and performance. Combined with her 17 years of adult education experience, she brings a depth of understanding in how to deliver the highly experiential workshops that are a hallmark of the Belbin North America approach to education and organizational development.

Patrick Ballin

Patrick offers more than 25 years of experience with some of the most successful businesses in Europe as a consultant, change manager and executive coach.

He has helped many well-known organisations to get their ideas and projects off the ground by working with business leaders and their teams to optimise interaction, strategy and execution.
Patrick was Global Head of Supply Chain and Logistics Development for The Body Shop, an international retailer of ethical health and beauty products, and managed its change programme across 52 countries. In 2009, he set up the national redundancy coaching service, Rework, for the UK industry charity, Retail Trust. Patrick spent his earlier career with ACWL Group, one of the pioneering UK Apple Centres, where he was a divisional Director.
He holds an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, is a Visiting Lecturer for Brighton Business School, a Fellow of the RSA and coach for social enterprise incubator On Purpose.

Max Isaac

Max is the CEO of 3Circle Partners. He brings a depth of knowledge and experience from his career in general management and consulting in North America, England, Europe and Asia.
Max has assisted CEOs and senior leaders within client organizations with the design and implementation of Interaction Planning processes, team based organizational development programs and Lean Six Sigma initiatives.
Prior to moving into the field of organizational development, Max was the CFO for the Retail Division within The Molson’s Organization, where he took a lead role in growing the business to over $1 billion in revenues, doubling its size in four years through acquisitions and internal growth.
Max is co-author of Close The Interaction Gap, The Third Circle – Interactions That Drive Results, Setting Teams Up for Success and A Guide to Team Roles. He is also the contributing author of the Organizational Change sections of Mike George’s books Lean Six Sigma published in May 2002 and Lean Six Sigma for Service published in June 2003. Max is a registered CPA, CA in Canada. His undergraduate degree was earned at Witwatersrand University, South Africa.