Team Conflict in the Workplace

Team conflict in the workplace is typically caused by 4 main reasons. Keep reading to learn the causes, outcomes, and how your EAP can help your team resolve their conflict.

As an HR Leader or manager, it’s important to understand why team conflict is happening. Believe it or not, healthy conflict can actually benefit the productivity and outcomes of high-performing teams. But if the source of conflict is unhealthy, then it can wreck havoc on company profitability, productivity, team dynamics, and employee retention.

4 Main Causes of Unhealthy Team Conflict

1. Unclear roles and responsibilities

Uncertainty in roles and responsibilities can arise at the project level or be a broader issue related to misleading job titles and unclear job descriptions. When there’s ambiguity about task assignments and expectations, it opens the door to power struggles within the team, duplicated efforts, accountability gaps, and delays in completing projects.

2. Misalignment of strategy, goals, and priorities

Teams perform best when everyone understands what they’re working towards and why. So when there isn’t an overarching strategy with clearly outlined goals, it may be difficult to see why the project is a priority or even necessary. This leaves each team member (or department if it’s a cross-functional team) to make assumptions based on their own goals and priorities.

3. Lack of trust

Micromanagement—which stems from a lack of trust—is a surefire way to initiate team conflict. While it’s typically caused by one individual, it reduces the morale, performance, and wellbeing of the entire team.

Lack of trust shows up in several ways, for example:

  • Constantly following up on the status of a task before the due date
  • Pushing work to be complete before agreed-upon due date
  • Re-doing a team member’s work
  • Overstepping boundaries of expertise

4. Poor communication

On the opposite side of the spectrum from micromanagement is a lack of communication. A team may start off with an initial meeting, but then scatter to complete their own tasks in isolation. Working too independently can result in misalignment of priorities, conflicting decisions, and abandonment of the original strategy.

Using Your EAP to Resolve Team Conflict

A comprehensive EAP like Carebridge understands that team conflict is inevitable. But with the support of leadership teams, we can work together to ensure workplace disagreements remain productive and professional.

We achieve this by offering organizational support, unlimited management consultations, and training curriculums. As well as a suite of proactive digital tools to help teams function collaboratively and effectively.

For more information on how Carebridge EAP can support your teams, email us now at