Why Can’t We Get Along?

We’ve already talked about why it isn’t necessary to see eye to eye to still be a successful project team (project-management-teamwork-when-good-confrontation-goes-bad) and  (5-tips-to-neutralize-personality-conflicts-within-your-team), but if conflict is disrupting your Project Team, maybe it’s time to dig into why folks aren’t getting along. Determining your team’s triggers could help you find a way to channel useless bickering and unnecessary disagreements toward more productive discussions.

Competition. It usually isn’t a bad thing, and a bit of friendly competition can even be useful to keep team members on their toes. But if the environment becomes too competitive—as can happen when budgets are slashed and employees worry their job might be next—the situation can quickly go from collegial to cutthroat.


Fear. Employees who are afraid, whether it’s of failure, potential job loss, or even the lack of future career opportunities, sometimes turn their internal concerns into outward animosity as a misguided form of self-preservation. The hostility might then find a target in coworkers and business partners, who are often entirely unaware of what’s prompting the inappropriate behavior.


Lack of respect. Senior-level team members may see less experienced employees as expendable, and new hires could assume they’ve been brought in to augment or replace existing employees who are underperforming. Newly promoted workers sometimes see their former peers as less valuable to the organization, which can lead to poor treatment and an acrimonious environment.


Burn out. An overworked or burned out employee is likely to take out their exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm on their coworkers, often in the form of increasing unprofessionalism and bitterness. Unfortunately, burn out is the kind of poison that can quickly infect an entire Project Team if it’s allowed to fester—some may see the burn out’s actions as being aimed at them personally, while others could realize they’re running out of steam, too.

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