Let's face it. Sometimes people just plain don't like each other. So what's a team leader to do in these situations? People usually attribute this sort of problem to strong personalities. Labeling the problem this way seems to be a justification for not doing anything about it. After all, one cannot change the basic nature of another person, right?
There are actions you can take as the team leader. Here are four.
Establish the Ideal. Engage the group in a conversation about what kind of team they want to have. Get them talking about behaviors that will make the team more successful and interesting for the members. Groups have their own unique cultures. Your job is to get the group to compare the culture they have to the one they want.
Clear up fuzzy leadership. Sometimes people clash in the absence of clear leadership. Perhaps these two are positioning for power and control of the team. Assuming neither is right for the role, make it clear who is in charge.
Try the obvious. While it may be the least attractive option, it is probably the most effective. Talk with these people individually or together. Let them know that their behaviors are affecting the team. Work with them to understand the underlying problems and together develop solutions that will address the conflicts.
Clean house. As a last resort, the leader may want to remove one or both of these people from the team. If your gut is telling you that they are significantly cutting into productivity and effectiveness, and you have tried everything you and others can think of doing, this becomes a reasonable action. Take it.
Tom LaForce is a speaker who wins over audiences with his enthusiasm and playful style. As a facilitator he runs meetings that get results...fast. And as a team development expert, he always is able to get to the heart of the matter. Tom offers a wealth of free teamwork and personal effectiveness advice at his website, http://tomlaforce.com