How to stop clashing team members disrupting performance

Written by Alice Withers on 24 June 2015

It’s not surprising that if you have two team members who actively dislike each other, this can affect team performance. However, a new study has suggested ways in which teams can overcome any negative effects.

When two members of staff who dislike each other are forced to work together in a team, the negative effects can expand past the originating members, affecting the relationships and performance of the whole team. However, recent research suggests that it may not affect team performance if there two key factors in play:

1.High levels of interdependent working

These are teams where members help and respect each other, and depend to a certain degree on each other to perform their jobs

  1. High-quality social exchange between team members

These teams have high levels of reciprocal communication, where others’ ideas are respected, and feedback and recognition is given


It was suggested that the reason this occurs, is that teams who work interdependently have to find ways to deal with any issues that arise, and teams that have high-quality social exchange find it easier to accept differences and to restore harmony within the group.

What can these findings tell us about how to prevent negative relationships within a team affecting performance? The researchers suggested that high quality social exchange could be promoted in a team by encouraging team members to feedback and support one another, and that managers should where possible design the team to work interdependently.

There are a number of ways you can find out if there are negative relationships within your team. For example, employee engagement surveys can measure levels of team working and how respected a person feels within a team. To investigate this further, 360 degree reviews can provide key insight into the way members of staff view each other. By conducting reviews across all members of a team you will quickly be able to identify any problem areas and take the necessary steps to resolve them.


About the author
Alice Withers is a researcher at People 1st. She can be contacted at

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