How to handle conflicts among scrum teams

Last post 08:26 am April 13, 2020
by Sanjeev Nanda
10 replies
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01:52 pm April 7, 2020

Hello All,

I had assigned a new team and I see lot of conflicts in team such as jealousy, insecurity, annoyance, envy, or personality conflicts.

Can any one please guide me how can I solve this.

 

Thanks & Regards,
Siddiq.

03:51 pm April 7, 2020

There isn't any prefect guide to solving this. I supposed you are the Scrum Master of the Scrum Team with conflicts and trying to solve it. So my recommendation for you is to inspect why they created such kind of conflicts. 

Scrum Master is a Servant Leader to the team, so you should inspect the reason behind their conflicts, conduct some Coaching to whole team and individual members for changes. With clear understanding and listening to other, they are capable to find a way to collaborate again. 

You could also use Sprint Retrospective to let them review their relationship. Try to find some interesting Ice breaking games in Retrospective to break the wall inside your Scrum Team.

04:06 pm April 7, 2020

Hi Siddiq,

I would recommend you to facilitate an activity to coach them about the Scrum Values with some open-ended questions aligning to the same. In my experience, it would help them understand the necessity of behavior change necessary to overcome the aforementioned situation. I believe it helps.

Thanks,

Umar

04:19 pm April 7, 2020

I agree on the Scrum values, as they will build trust. Try reading the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, which will help you. The second dysfunction in the pyramid is conflict.

Another tip - how about facilitating Team Working Agreements? One could be around how the Team wants to handle conflict. The Scrum Master should first let the team try to sort out the conflict themselves as they learn to self-organize, with a degree of support such as facilitation, teaching the 5 levels of conflict (see Lyssa Adkins article: https://dzone.com/articles/agile-managing-conflict).

Not all conflict is bad either. Sometimes debating gets the best solution.

08:56 pm April 8, 2020

I love this book about fear and trust: “the fearless organization, Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” by Amy C. Edmondson.

01:33 am April 9, 2020

Resolving conflict requires skills and experience. This is why managers often ask specialists within HR to mediate when the conflict gets out of hand and start to affect work. There are experiences coaches (not "Agile Coaches") who can work one-on-one with a client to get to the bottom of the conflict. 

You can try team building exercises and try to do some root cause analysis. But if the conflict is because of bad attitudes, and it is affecting work, then I would go outside the Scrum Team for help. A business has to run, be profitable and produce for customers. Coddling bad actors is not a good solution for any business. A business is a business and not a day care. There are plenty of good people out there who are willing to work, be pleasant and work on a team. Some people don't want to be team players and forcing them to become a team player could be a waste of time. Hiring Managers hire for skills, and fire for attitude.

08:30 am April 9, 2020

I had assigned a new team and I see lot of conflicts in team such as jealousy, insecurity, annoyance, envy, or personality conflicts.

To what extent do the team also see what you see?

12:09 pm April 9, 2020

One might step out of myopic conventions and possibly contextualize the entire referendum the old fashioned way - by having an open discussion, where each side(s) is encouraged to voice their misgivings. For that matter, Scrum should look to update a "Conflict" section on the board - only for better resolution of micro-aggresions .

05:10 pm April 9, 2020

I don't think there is a quick-fix to solve a real conflict. From your message, it's difficult to see where you are.

Up to a certain level disagreement, it is normal to have some 'conflict' and that can be even positive. As long as you stay below a certain point of no-return open discussions and private discussions are your tools.

As a Scrum Master, I would focus on prevention. You could ask your team: "hey, I noticed something ...", "how do you guys see this ?", "How does that affect you ?", "What could we do to solve this ?". And then work with that.

Self-awareness is something you could learn to develop your team members. As already mentioned above, so are Transparancy and the other Scrum Values.

Above a certain level of conflict, you will need external help. Friedrich Glasl's wrote about conflict escalation, read about it on Wikipedia.

 

08:04 pm April 11, 2020

Have a look at the 5 dysfunctions of a team. It’s an interesting piece of research and could be a nice thing to explore with the team?

in my recent experience, when conflict is deep rooted (and often personal) within a team it will require a lot of effort to guide the team through it. But it can be done! We’re all resistant to change. The tack I took to move towards resolving the issues was to empowering the team individuals in a much more overt way- I.e. to focus on rebuilding the trust within the team. My thought was that if there is trust, conflict can be a good thing and even a positive thing (so moving away from personal conflict). But if there is no trust, then all conflict will likely be negative (even if it wasn’t intended as such)!

08:26 am April 13, 2020

Really interesting options one has while treating any discord. The best options are out the box most of the time. Try removing yourself from the confines of the agile system and try to diffuse the situation - at the most, you'll have two sides that are not in agreement, but definitely see where then other side is coming from.