Protecting Your Team from Conflict Infection

Prevention is worth a pound of cure

by Gay Wall/ April 16, 2015

I recently read an article by The Joint Commission entitled “Five Things You Can Do To Prevent Infection.” As I read the article, I thought this could apply to preventing conflict infection in our teams. Here are the five things The Joint Commission said about preventing infection and my twist on applying it to our teams!

1. Clean your hands! Yes, make sure you are clean so that you do not infect yourself. Our hands can carry a lot of unwanted bacteria. What would happen if each team member came to the team meetings clean—no bad attitude, not so attached to your own ideas that you cannot take other suggestions or even hear how to make your idea better, able to laugh at yourself and with others, etc.? In other words, help teach your team members to learn how to wash their hands before entering the team zone.
2. Make sure health care providers clean their hands or wear gloves. If we are going to prevent infection in our team, then we must not only make sure our hands are clean, but also watch for the other team members. How great would it be if we weren't so focused on our ideas or talking points that we could watch to see if other members were showing signs of bacteria? Do they come into the meeting with the “having a bad day” look about them, their body language showing irritation or frustration, etc.? Helping fellow team members not interject personal emotion into the team environment will go a long ways towards preventing infection.
3. Cover your mouth and nose. The last thing any of us should want to do is to spread our bacteria to others. While working with your team, if you sense a cough or sneeze coming, protect others by covering yourself. Help the team to learn how to be self-aware enough that they know when their attitude or body language can infect the group. If the issue is important, stop and talk about it; if it is not important, cover your nose and mouth!
4. If you are sick, avoid close contact with others. I think most work places would rather you stay at home than come to work and make everyone else sick too. Teach the team that it is not dishonorable to step back if there are major issues going on in their lives. Help team members get healthy outside of the team. Healthy teams are made up of healthy people.
5. Get shots to avoid disease and fight the spread of infection. This is taking personal responsibility to prevent infection. As leaders we should train our members to take personal responsibility to grow and mature in their own lives and ministry areas. Growing and maturing spiritually, intellectually, and in our skill sets are our immunization shots.
The key to preventing conflict infection is not much different than its health counterpart. Have an actionable plan that provides team members with training and understanding of how to prevent conflict infection.