Healthy conflict, where conflicting viewpoints are debated, can be of significant benefit to a club, if it is effectively managed. However unhealthy conflict can divert energy, demoralise the committee and volunteers, affect the club culture and prevent the club from achieving its goals.
Clubs may experience intense conflicts about directions and policies while others have difficulty due to conflicting roles or personal differences. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to not let conflict get out of hand.
Creating an environment where decisions and issues are open to challenge and new ideas can be constructively discussed is essential to effective leadership and committee culture. However, it’s important that these discussions stay constructive.
There are measure that can be implemented to reduce the risk of harmful conflict including:
- Ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities
- The president/chairperson ensures discussions remain on track and are bought back in when discussion gets too heated
- A code of conduct is adopted for committee meetings
- Revert back to club strategic plan and goals
Dealing with Toxic Conflict
While you may have measures in place to prevent conflict, damaging conflict can still arise and become harmful to the club. Unfortunately, there is not a single solution to resolve the conflict and resolution will depend on the challenges, circumstances and the personalities of those involved. However some general tips include:
- Be reasonable and neutral
- Confirm what's at the root of the conflict
- Try to identify a win-win solution
- Leave a way out for the individuals concerned
- Follow procedure, where possible
- Focus on the best interests of the club
Reach out to your local league administrator for guidance or visit the Play By the Rules website for information on dealing with conflict.