A productive team is a unified team—a team in which all the members are able to cooperate and collaborate, despite whatever personal differences or personality clashes they may have. And to be sure: There’s no such thing as a team that doesn’t experience a little tension every now and again. What matters is that this tension never boils over into full-fledged, productivity-halting conflict.

As a leader, it’s your job to minimize conflict, and to deal with it quickly when it rears its head. How can that be done? The critical first step is simply noting some of the things that tend to make conflict erupt in the first place.

So what causes conflict? The answer can vary a bit from one team to the next, just depending on the personalities represented and the nature of the work environment. With that said, there are a few things that tend to be big, conflict-causing culprits in many workplaces.

Among them:

  • Miscommunication. Are you clearly conveying expectations to all of your team members—and allowing them the platform they need to communicate their feedback, their questions, and their suggestions for improvement?
  • Poorly defined roles. A good leader goes beyond the job description—but nevertheless, it’s helpful when your team members have a clear understanding of their place within the organization, and of the roles held by their peers.
  • A lack of goals. Are you all working toward the same end, or are there different goals in everyone’s mind? Without clear, singular goals, it’s difficult to work together in a unified manner.
  • A lack of feedback. Do you give your team members the gift of your feedback? Without some form of feedback, team members may feel unsure of their standing in the company.
  • A bad company culture. Does your company run on collaboration, or does your management style pit employees against one another? A little competition is alright, but a cutthroat environment does not lend itself well to teamwork.
  • Personality differences. All of your team members are unique individuals, which can lead to tension; as a leader, your job is to understand these personality types and to facilitate understanding.

Remember: Conflict can disrupt an otherwise productive team; understanding its sources is the first step toward preventing it!

Originally posted on RickGoodman.com.