Have you experienced a lot of conflict in your team when building a startup?


i think is common, I know I have. specially in situations when dealing with deadlines and or pivot phases... such as product validation or growth... even pitching angles to VCs. best thing to do is reassure your leadership position, understand values and come to a mid point agreement that reflects the majority's vote... hopefully all in your team has value and that's why you have them, so listen to them eve if you disagree.

Answered 7 years ago

Conflict is healthy if concluded efficiently and respectfully.

Ongoing unresolved conflict can cause employee attrition and at worst, kill your company.

Healthy conflicts could be boiled down to different opinions as to which approach is better. In this case, everything should be tested and measured, so in many cases, both conflicting opinions should be tested. Most conflicts can be ended by simply agreeing to test both opinions and let the evidence speak to which is better.

Unhealthy conflicts are between personality types that just don't get along or where there really is a fundamental split on what it is that your company should be doing.

If there isn't alignment there, it's critical that you stop everything and get aligned because nothing good will happen until then.

I've helped startup CEOs work through conflict and create alignment. Happy to do a call to understand where you're at, what the conflict is and help you find a path to resolve it.

Answered 7 years ago

Conflicts are a natural part of forming and solidifying any team, and definitely so in a startup environment.

I experienced a number of conflicts, both as a CEO and as an employee. In all cases the conflict was a great opportunity because it was very telling about the team and about the business' direction and the way it is managed.

The important thing is to identify and distill the insights and make decisions quickly so that things do not continue to brew or escalate.

Glad to share more of my experience and insights on a call.


Answered 7 years ago

I often tell people if my manager and I think alike, one of us is unnecessary. And that means the potential for conflict.

Conflict is a term I associate with a negative connotation. But, differing ideas and opinions are extremely important in a business. How does one know if they have a strong idea, if no one challenges it.

Of course challenging a superior must be based on a relationship of trust, but building a team with strong leadership will establish that trust and enable team members to work together in a healthy and positive way. And also have systems in place to handle situations that could escalate if not handle correctly.

I have been in a position of conflict many times with a member or members of my team. Sometimes they were wrong, and many times I was wrong. Strong teams can handle the bumps in the road and will actually come out the other side stronger.

Answered 7 years ago

Based on research done by CBInsights - - "not the right team" was mentioned as the #3 most popular reason for the failure of a startup.
So the answer is "yes". Most startups experience conflict within their team-members.
Forgive me, but I think the more important question is "how do you avoid this conflict, or work with/around it?" Briefly answered:
1. Discuss expectations from day 1 - openly!
2. Divided areas of management and authority.
3. Decide on how decisions will be made.
4. Agree on a neutral third party who will decide when there is a deadlock/tie or conflict that cannot be decided within the team.
5. sign a Founder's agreement.
I've worked with over 300 entrepreneurs and am happy to help.
Good luck

Answered 2 years ago

Oh yes, I had, a lot of it. Being an HR in a start-up is not easy at all. From drunken employees to arrogant to careless employees you get all sorts of them in a team building. And yes, there were unruly scenes during a team building, from banging chairs on the floor, to abuses and even flying punches! I have gone through it all. As an HR I had to resolve all the conflicts. I used to do a lot of conflict analysis. The questions I was poised with were:
a. Who are the conflict parties?
b. What type of conflict do they have and what is the possible source?
c. On which escalation level is the conflict?
I used to sit with my management team with these general reflections:
a. How do people approach conflict in your organisation or team in relation to the different types of conflict?
b. Can you think of examples where task and process conflicts have turned into a relationship conflict, or where relationship conflict has got in the way of task and process?
c. Think of the costs and benefits of each conflict style
d. Consider what possible positive and negative perceptions others can have when someone applies a certain style
e. Think about typical phrases someone uses when applying a style, e.g. “I’ll think about it tomorrow” for avoiding, or “Two heads are better than one” for collaborating.
These are my top tips for you:
a. Check whether you have a perceived or real conflict
b. Check what type of conflict it is
c. Map out who the conflict parties are
d. Check the escalation level and decide whether you would like to involve a facilitator

Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 months ago

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