You can’t always prevent conflict from creeping into your team. That’s why setting conditions for easier resolution is critical. Here are five ways to set ground rules to prevent bad vibes from sneaking into your team dynamic.
Who decides what? Conflict is often rooted in resentment or confusion about involvement in decision making. Be explicit about when a decision is solely made by the leader, is consensus, is delegated, or somewhere along that spectrum.
Who is accountable? Collaboration is key with any team. But, make sure one person on a project is assigned the role of “accountable.” This role clarity means that they can ask for help, send reminders, and make sure that the deliverable is on-time. This empowers them to be proactive (not “bossy”) and keep procrastinators (not “slackers”) on-task. If someone is named accountable, it is easier for everyone to know who to go to for questions or when things go wrong.
What is the deliverable? Team conflict stems from a misalignment of expectations for what constitutes “done” or “good work.” Instead of assigning a vague deliverable, break it down into clear tasks that can be tied to people and dates to ensure clear expectations.
Who gets what? Compensation is a touchy issue that is rooted in questions of fairness and power– but don’t make the mistake of just splitting it 50/50 to avoid a hard conversation. Read The Founder’s Dilemmas and consider compensation options such as dynamic vesting schedules or blended cash/equity arrangements.
How will we address conflict? How you set up communication channels for your team is critical and is unique to each startup. First Round Review has some great advice for creating a culture that uses constructive conflict and difficult conversations to build better companies.