TEAMS have the potential to achieve great things. Most people have at some point in their career been part of a team that seemed to achieve great results no matter what obstacles arose. On the flip side there probably have been times when hostility got in the way of team success and was even destructive.

Here are five tips for dealing with hostility in teams:

Tip 1: Don't ignore it

Teams can often fall into the trap of ignoring hostility in the hope that it will evaporate or disappear. The reality is that it can often become a bigger issue. Think of a snowball that turns into an avalanche. Create the opportunity for the hostility to be brought out into the open and discuss it calmly and rationally.

Tip 2: Set agreements

Designing a set of agreements is an important part of developing a successful team. These agreements are not a set of rules imposed by the leader but a set of principles developed and owned by the team as a collective.

Tip 3: Reference points

Even if agreements are set, chances are that some people will revert back to old ways of behaving or working when the going gets tough. Use set agreements as reference points in these times of hostility and, if necessary, add new points to agreements.

Tip 4: Create a common language

Teams can develop a common language that they use to recognise and address hostility when it shows up. This could be something like a sign or a saying that everyone uses to flag the existence of hostility, to get the team from a place of hostility to a place of action.

Tip 5: Focus on the purpose

Teams are usually established to achieve a common purpose or address a specific challenge. They will generally be hugely committed to whatever it is they are trying to achieve. When hostility appears, the energy and focus will be on the hostility rather than the purpose. If you are the team leader, in times of hostility, take time to re-focus on what you are seeking to achieve.

Hostility can obstruct teams from achieving results. Being able to recognise and successfully respond to it is an important part of successful team leadership.