Team Conflict Management Strategies to Grow Your Organization

D&I issue

We frequently receive requests for assistance with team and organization workplace conflict management and conflict resolution concerns such as:

  • An effective team conflict resolution strategy for our diverse team to reduce conflict and increase productivity.
  • Defuse tension, antagonism, or animus to help people work together more effectively.
  • Develop people's ability to work well together with colleagues and teammates of different cultural backgrounds.
  • Build innovation and productivity through increased "creative conflict" to make us more successful.
  • Conflict management strategies to help our business grow and succeed.

These requests highlight the dual nature of organization and team conflict. It may:

  • Disrupt an entire organization's productivity, or
  • Be the source and generator of phenomenal increases in productivity, innovation, creativity, agility, and safety (The PICAS Factors©).


Defining Destructive and Creative Conflict

Destructive conflict is typically characterized by ineffective communication and work relationships leading to tension, argument, antagonism, or animus. Destructive conflict may take the form of mild team conflict, wider arguments or hostility, or even a dysfunctional senior leadership team. Left unaddressed, destructive conflict may spread throughout the work place. It reduces effectiveness and The PICAS Factors, and can tear apart an organization.

Constructive or creative conflict is characterized by effective communication and strong relationships. There is deep respect for and valuing of each other's ideas and perspectives. People have the mindset and skills to work together well with colleagues and customers of different cultural backgrounds. This builds The PICAS Factors and business success.


Typical approaches to conflict management in teams and organizations include diversity training, conflict management training, reorganizing, new accountability processes and objectives, and team building. Frequently these fail since they do not address the core issues.

You need an effective organization or team conflict resolution strategy for managing all aspects of conflict to build relationships and The PICAS Factors in pursuit of business results and success.

It is your choice! Read on or call us now to start addressing your situation with our seasoned, practical, friendly experts.

D&I solution

Organization or team "destructive" conflict is not inevitable. It can be resolved. The underlying differences in perspectives may be transformed into competitive advantage using "creative" conflict. Effective conflict management strategies develop people's mindsets about diversity and cultural difference to help the organization or team succeed through a more-inclusive mode of operation.

This is conflict resolution through managing inclusion and developing intercultural expertise. Achieving these results typically calls for facilitation and guidance by expert external professionals who frequently will be perceived as more fair and neutral.

As the figure below shows, conflict of any sort in teams and organizations is about ineffective communication and interpersonal relationships. Conflict may stem from people having different perspectives, opinions, expected behavioral norms, and communication and working styles.

When people lack the skills and experience to communicate and work well with people of diverse cultural backgrounds with inclusive work processes, "destructive" conflict may develop and lead to tension, arguments, inability to collaborate, and inefficiency. In such a situation, people cannot develop a shared team vision, come to agreement, openly share ideas, work together, or produce the needed team results. This "destructive" conflict may ruin productivity, innovation, and team effectiveness..

Alternatively, when teams and work groups have the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience, these same differences become the source of increased productivity, innovation, creativity, agility, and safety (The PICAS Factors). This "creative" conflict yields sustainable business advantage.

Effective Relationships and Truly Inclusive Processes are Essential to Productivity and Innovation

The link to diversity and inclusion becomes clear from the figure. Consider a group of people that may be very alike or that may have a wide range of differences between themselves in terms of the many dimensions of diversity and culture.

Research in intercultural communication and organization effectiveness clearly shows that the more-diverse group:

(a) particularly benefits from strong interpersonal skills and intercultural expertise that enable great communication so that

(b) they can leverage their inevitably-greater range of perspectives and insights to produce stronger business outcomes.

Conflict management and resolution strategies must be adapted to each situation to help ensure the right outcome. Solutions typically involve some combination of these techniques:

  • Interviewing the directly and indirectly involved people to identify the core issues and needs.
  • Assessing the intercultural competence / expertise of the people involved (i.e. how people tend to think and feel about diversity and cultural difference).
  • Individual coaching.
  • Team or group development, learning, and facilitation matched to the members' current intercultural expertise.

It is your choice again!
Read on to delve deeper into the culturally-influenced sources of conflict and the tools we frequently use. Otherwise, call us now to start addressing your situation with our seasoned, practical, friendly experts.

Frequently we find that inability to communicate and work effectively with people of diverse cultural backgrounds is at the heart of both resolving destructive conflict and building creative conflict in teams and organizations. This may relate to any dimensions of diversity and cultural difference.

In such situations, the most-effective solution is to develop general mindset about diversity and cultural difference and situation-specific behavioral and cognitive preferences and tendencies:

  • General mindset: How the involved people tend to think and feel about people from cultural backgrounds other than their own. This is the extent to which diversity and cultural difference tend to be avoided, thought of in polarizing judgmental terms, acknowledged and minimized, or deeply valued and understood for its full effect and potential. We call this "core intercultural expertise," a deep "culture-general" competence related to any and all dimensions of diversity and cultural difference in domestic and global workforces.
  • Situation-specific preferences and tendencies: The awareness of and skill in managing their individual culturally-based preferences and tendencies (CBTs) in patterns of thought and behavior. These CBTs affect how the involved individuals communicate and work with, and understand the needs of, the specific other people in their team or organization given their different CBTs. This is a deep "culture-specific" competence related to the differences in individual / group tendencies between specific cultures.

Where diversity and cultural difference are contributing factors, we use world-class instruments such as the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory (ICS), the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire (CWQ), and the Team Process Questionnaire System (TPQS). These instruments help diagnose situations so that the most effective solution may be implemented. They also provide a developmental framework through which the involved parties may develop, as needed, their core intercultural expertise, their use of their culturally-based conflict style and behavioral tendencies, and their team effectiveness. For more about IDI and CWQ, see inclusion and intercultural expertise. For more about TPQS, see team development and Team Process Questionnaire System.

MDB Group is certified to offer these outstanding instruments as part of our comprehensive approach to managing organization and team conflict and increasing productivity and innovation.

See also: Team building and team development. Or just call us or send us a note to start discussing your situation!


Sample D&I results

See representative results achieved by MDB Group's principals at conflict management strategies for the workforce and work place.


Related links

Conflict may affect many aspects of the workplace. Click the links below for further insight:


Executive coaching

Coaching leaders to resolve their own conflict issues or more effectively manage a situation in their organization.

Lawsuit vulnerability

Conflict may lead to hostility, harassment, or violence, which increases the chance of complaints and lawsuits.

Morale and turnover/retention

Conflict may create low morale and turnover problems among both directly and indirectly affected employees.

Strategic planning off-sites for diversity and inclusion

A strategic planning offsite brings together the people, knowledge, and perspectives needed to build a more inclusive environment.

Team building and team development

Leveraging creative conflict is key to increasing team productivity, innovation, and creativity.

Work place assessments

Assessments of the current workplace help determine the appropriate plan and measure progress.

Workforce productivity, innovation, and creativity

High productivity, innovation, and creativity are usually only possible in productive and inclusive work environments.


Next steps

Please call us to start developing the team conflict management strategies that will be most effective for your work place and help ensure that everyone is focused on achieving your key business goals.

Your business success is our most important objective

Conflict Management and Innovation in Organizations


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Spotlight on Building Inclusion


Almost all organizations say they want a more-inclusive workplace. Some can define what this looks like. Very few organizations achieve anything close to “full inclusion". Why? It takes a change in mindset about diversity and cultural difference.

Growing an organization and its business through full inclusion typically demands some mix of the PICAS factors (Productivity, Innovation, Creativity, Agility, and Safety). Full inclusion requires cultural and behavioral change from the CEO to the newest employee. To learn more visit these pages:

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About Us

MDB Group is a consulting firm specializing in business growth through diversity, inclusion, and intercultural expertise. The originator of the Business-Aligned® diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy, MDB Group is also an Affiliate member of the ITAP International Alliance network, an integrated international network of cooperative companies across the major economic centers of the world. 


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You will receive personalized professional service from our highly-experienced principals. We bring a collegial and partnering mindset to our client relationships combined with the highest standards of ethics, probity, and integrity. We focus on practical solutions designed to meet your specific needs. Your business success is our most important objective.


Contact Us

MDB Group's global clients includes Fortune 100, Fortune 500, small to mid-size, and not-for-profit organizations in many industries. We apply practical, proven D&I planning models and technologies to build the workforce and workplace that will deliver the business results you need. Contact us today:

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