There are all types of very important, official sounding words to describe group/team conflict dynamics.
We can talk about proportional or perceptual conflict, but what it all boils down to on most occasions when conflict goes from productive to toxic is what I like to call “rats in a cage conflict.”
“Rats in a cage conflict” is the scenario when there appears (real or not) to be more work and less time for those within the dynamic to get it all done. Basically, scarce resources, primal instincts equal turning on each other. The result is the dual ratty transgressions of finger-pointing and off-loading responsibilities. A simpler term is “drama.”
The key to resolution is within the observation of the dynamic and workload as a whole. As noted above, the fall out can come from a scenario that is perceived and not real? How? Burnout and even stress can skew our outlooks. We fail to appropriately address and manage our time. For instance, recently someone shared they don’t have enough time for all that is required of them. Upon further evaluation, turns out he does have enough time, the time however was not being managed well. Often just the stress of the known combined with the unknown timeline of when the flood will abate is enough for folks to disconnect from appropriate time management skills, and the downward spiral begins.
Perceived work versus actual work can be two very different things. When our time management component snaps due to misperception, the toxic fallout will spread to additional employees and the dominos begin to fall.
So how do you address the situation? You can address it in several ways. Time management resources help, continued communication helps, accountability helps, and planning helps. If someone is overwhelmed have them map out their duties and time management plan. Boom, whining goes away and you can identify if the problem is real or perceived.