Conflict is a natural part of life. If the process of conflict resolution is considered as an opportunity for growth and change in the work environment, the potential for a positive outcome is immense. Whether as a team or on an individual level, the ability to solve problems through collaborative efforts and managing change is crucial in achieving overall success. It is imperative that the team establishes a common goal and creates roles and responsibilities. Once identifying conflict and the reasons why it occurs, team members should look for peaceful and mutually satisfying methods to minimize conflict.
Learning to work as a team is a critical organizational competency that is based on the characteristics of the team. Participation on a team does not require that one change his/her personality. Interpersonal skills and technical skills are a good combination of skills to blend. An important aspect when constructing a team is that the team members share the same objectives and goals and is clear on the mission and purpose of the team. An effective team is a group of people with different backgrounds, skills and abilities, highly communitive, working together on a common purpose with clearly defined goals blending successfully, and getting along. Goal setting, clarifying the reason for the team coming together and what the team hopes to accomplish must be further defined as well as methods to measure progress.
An open line of communication is very important to the success of the team.
Responsibilities and tasks associated with the project should be clearly explained so that the members of the team are aware of their contributions to the effective and efficient outcome of the product. Multiple methods of communication should be utilized so that each team member is kept in the loop. E-mail, written correspondence, conference telephone calls, and meetings are mechanisms utilized to keep the team abreast of project progress. Open communication enhances team morale. If information is withheld, it has a tendency to give that team member power. Team support is very important. All conflict is resolved through communication. Willingness to communicate in unpleasant situations is a positive reaction. Communication also requires good listening skills and sometimes listening skills need to be taught. Communication is the ability to ask advice, interested enough to listen, and dedicated to respond.
Team members have a responsibility to the team. The members need to know that what they are doing individually contributes to the team’s success. A team member should not compare oneself to the other team members, but focus on what she/he contributes to the goal. A work team is not the place for internal competition. Working with a team is a self-esteem enhancer. Therefore, when you commit your time, skills, and abilities to the goal, you are bringing you expertise to the table and you are also learning something. You become a better person, a more knowledgeable person. Developing a team evolves over time. Teams accomplish more and reach a higher performance level than an individual. Roles exist within a team, and each member of a team will share the leadership role. The role of a leader is to facilitate processes and support team members.
The leader set general direction and assist with the goals. Leadership is the ability to help an individual or organization become better. Potential leaders can be recognized if they have the ability to motivate team members to do more with less and solve problems. Good leadership should have highly developed interpersonal skills. In order to guide your team, you must create an environment of trust. Your team members should know that you would go to management on their behalf. Team leaders may be concerned about organizational effectiveness but not at the expense of the team members. Therefore, a balance is needed with a focus on the tasks as well as a focus on the needs of the people/team members.
Rotating the leadership role allows the present leader to groom a replacement. Offering leadership rotations is a skill builder for all team members. The team members implement the plan of action for accomplishing the goals.
Effective team members need to know expectations in advance. People will be committed if they feel that their contributions are appreciated. The members are involved in the decision-making process which creates an environment of cooperation. Based on a shared sense of purpose, shared results of recognition for what they have been asked to do, the team excels. People have a need to belong, a need for personal attention, need to be recognized, and a need for support. No team member should be allowed not to contribute. A member who refuses to contribute breaches the contract. Negative contributions demoralize the individual and stagnates the team efforts. A team member needs to know and feel that she/he is an intricate part of the team. Measuring the team effectiveness as a whole requires that the team members evaluate their cooperation level. How well does the team get along? Ask the team members about the dynamics of the team. Who are the real team players? Who can you go to for help? Evaluate the following: most supportive, somewhat supportive, and least supportive.
Evaluating or measuring the effectiveness of the team as a whole, the team can see the needs of its members. Does a member need additional training or coaching in team dynamics? Aspect of a positive team working cohesively together is the bottom-line.
Time management is a very important aspect of teamwork. Each member controls their time and has an obligation to the team to be effective in prioritizing their time. Your potential for success lies in how you use your time. Learning styles affect the way you manage your time (i.e., factual learners organize activities within a framework of time.
They are aware of how long it takes them to do something. Holistic and theoretical learners miss the passing of time. They are usually late.) Time management is a lifelong pursuit. The ability to manage your time varies depending on your mood, stress level, and how busy you are. Methods to manage your time require that you set goals, maintain a schedule of your activities, know your value system, and set priorities. Do not let other people control you. Remember that managing time requires a lot of thought and energy, but the sooner you put forth the effort to organize yourself, you will begin to see results with time management. After defining a team and team characteristics something that often occurs within the team is conflict. Conflict is defined as “an expressed struggle between at least two mutually dependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from another party in achieving their goals. Conflict is an essential part of personal and professional relationships. Just as there are many different types of people, there are different types of conflict, such as, interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict.
Interpersonal conflict is when you experience emotional and mental pains within ones self. Characteristics of this type of conflict are being annoyed, defensive and indignant. Often times the individual dose not identify their personal issues, which can be bad for the team. If the individual does not realize their personal issues it will cause tension in the team, which leads to personality conflicts. Intrapersonal conflict exists when two or more people have incompatible goals. They both believe that the other individual prevents their own goal from being attained. Though both individuals may have a difference of opinion, intrapersonal conflict can be beneficial to the team. It focuses attention on assumptions that may not be underlined in particular concerns and are often ignored. Recognizing the other team members concerns could improve the quality of decisions making as a team. One of the most common causes of stress in work teams is lack of communication. As long as we talk about our concerns, there are ways to make things better. A one common communication mistake is mind reading another team member. If you always assume you know what your team member is thinking, your team is on the path to failure. At no time should you assume you can mind read what other individuals are thinking, because often times you will be wrong. The team needs to be honest and precise when working together. Another communication mistake is pretending there is nothing wrong. Your team members need to know if there is something wrong because your personality affects the team. Withholding issues amongst you can hinder the team. Also, thinking if you ignore a problem long enough, it will go away can hold back the team.
Personal problems need to be resolved, and by ignoring them only make matters worse. You need to deal with your problems or have another team member help you work them out, so that you work productively in your team. Next, procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. Characteristics of procrastination are, feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self- doubt among team members. Procrastination has a high potential for painful consequences and interferes with your ability to work effectively in a team. Also procrastination means not managing time wisely. You may be uncertain of your priorities, goals and objectives. Which lead to being overwhelmed with the task. The team member may have difficulty concentrating and organizing due to lack of planning. Usually this means you have to put in extra planning time at the end to complete the team project. Confusion is also common when one procrastinates. If you aren’t clear on of the purpose of your team, you may not them priority. Doing anything else becomes easy, especially when you’re tired or disoriented. On the other hand, perfectionism prolongs the task by standards of excellence that are impractical. In some cases the team member concentrate a great deal one part of a project because they do not have a full understanding of the project as a whole. Lastly, many team members find they we do their best work under lots of pressure. This is partly because the thrill of pushing up against a threatening deadline creates adrenaline in our bodies, which gives us a kind of (natural) chemical high. The trouble is like any kind of high (or anything else pleasurable), the team member can become dependent on this stimulation, and end up procrastinating often in the future projects. Sooner or later, they will push hard enough that they will not meet the deadlines.
In conclusion, conflict is unavoidable when a team that works together comprises of different personalities and views. Differences in needs, goals, and values are all potential triggers for conflict. By bringing the conflict out into the open and acknowledging that there is a mutual problem will bring ease to the process of a cooperative resolution. Effective communication is imperative and each team member should exercise active listening to include listening with your eyes and ears and to be able to comprehend all aspects of what is being said. The apparent reasons for conflict should be discussed amongst members to find the underlying cause of differences. Instead of focusing blame on each other, all thoughts and ideas should be viewed objectively. In addition to effective communication, compromising is another strategy for team decision-making.
When this tactic is used to resolve conflict, each member involved must give up something that he/she wants but each person will also get something out of the resolution.
This is a type of win/win result because each member will get some of what he/she was seeking. Destructive differences should be eliminated as early as possible. The longer conflict persists, the more difficult it is to resolve. Resolutions should be developed jointly and all alternatives should be discussed. Decide on which alternative is applicable to the circumstances or conflict and apply it. Whatever approach is taken, if it is well thought out, it will at least begin to move the conflict closer toward resolution.
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