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Resolving Conflicts Within a Team

Alignment
Conflict Solving
Collaboration
Convincing
Fairness

2 February, 2022

Shilpa Toraskar
Shilpa Toraskar

Director of Engineering at IPSY

Shilpa Toraskar, Director of Engineering at BFA Industries, explains a situation where she settled a conflict between a couple of engineers in her team, opening a transparent and honest line of communication.

Rising Conflicts Within in a Team

Some time ago, there was a conflict between a couple of individuals on my team. The dispute revolved around the coding style we used in our project. It started when one engineer made a change to the coding system, and the other engineer disliked the change. I stepped in to mitigate the challenge and lessen the negative output a disagreement could have on my team.

The second engineer brought this conflict to my attention, mentioning that one of their colleagues took a different approach to coding. With little insight into the challenge, it was at that point I needed to delve deeper into the code, conflict, and most importantly, both team members’ personal inputs.

Resolving Conflicts Between Colleagues

It was essential for me to enter these conversations with a strong sense of empathy, as each team member was emotional about the disagreement. On one side, the team member felt strongly about their change, as it was an innovative decision. On the other side, the team member disliked the change, not because it was unuseful, but because they didn’t know about it before it happened.

Personally, I believed that the first engineer had good intentions about making the change, but the way he went about it was not the best. In my opinion, before making the change to the codebase, he should have communicated his intentions with the rest of the team.

I held transparency and honesty in high regard for my team, as it builds a level of trust and understanding between team members. By opening a line of communication before making a change, the conflict could be avoided, and productivity would not slow.

It was relieving to learn that both engineers, while in a conflict, did not have ill will towards the team. Overall, both sides were working on the project, trying to achieve our goal, simply using different methods.

Moving forward, I asked the first engineer to schedule a meeting to explain the change, intent, cause, and how the change would impact the team. The meeting centered around the viewpoints of the team, such as their thoughts on the change and if the team should implement it. I thought it would be best if the team made the decision as a group, rather than letting me decide, as this would grow their bond and autonomy. Based on his strong, convincing skills, the team decided to keep the change in the codebase and move forward with our project.

The change itself was an innovative decision based on new technology, which was the first time my team was seeing something like it. I thought the change was important because it was based around innovation, and that is essential to engineering and growth in careers.

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