Managing Team Conflict

Potential sources of conflict for the team include team member’s schedules, member disagreement, lack of consideration of deadlines, lack of input, and ineffective communication. One issue to contribute to conflict is the lack of input of all team members and the failure for team members to show up and meet at the designated time agreed upon by all team members.  Since there are different knowledge and skill set levels of all the members of the team, there can be areas where these levels overlap. In addition, there can also be areas where the team is missing necessary strengths to fully assist the team in its goals.

Without effective communication, team members cannot fully express skills each person currently possesses, and areas of knowledge where assistance is needed.  Communication barriers pose potential problems as well. One communication barrier that exists is failure for group members to utilize active listening. According to Hamilton (2001), “Many times when we are discussing a problem with others, we listen selfishly. In other words, we listen to gather ammunition for our rebuttals and to determine when we an insert our viewpoints into our conversation. Active listening requires us to listen from the speaker’s viewpoint” (312). With this in mind, it is important for all team members to utilize active listening and be open to new ideas and thinking. It is through learning from other team members that a team can increase strengths and gain additional knowledge to assist the team in its goals.

One way to assist with communication is having a leader of the team. The role of the leader is essential because it helps the team maintain organization and structure. Having a leader can assist the team when decision making must be performed. In the decision making process, three leadership styles used are autocratic, democratic and laissez-fairre. Each of these leadership styles can be used by any individual within the team. Ultimately, the goal of the team should be to use the democratic leadership style. The democratic leadership style is the preferred method of decision making because, “two-way communication exists between leaders and followers,” (Hamilton, 319). It is this two-way communication that will assist all team members in having a say about the decision and making the decision that will best benefit all team members.

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One source of conflict that is beneficial to the team is that conflict surrounding differences of opinions. Since each individual is unique and brings knowledge with him or her, having challenging opinions and views will ultimately assist the team in its knowledge and long term goals.
2. How will the team deal with a team member who will not cooperate with the team goals and objectives – for instance, the team member who is personally offensive; or, the team member who is a social loafer?

Having a leader who will be in charge of the team is a way to limit the issues that arise in the team. In addition, ground rules must be established when the team is formed to minimize the risk of issues among the team. If a team member is consistently disrupting the team and not assisting the team in its goals, then action needs to be taken. If the leader of the team is unable to resolve the issue with the team member, then additional intervention may need to occur.

3. Reflect once more on the experiences you’ve had within your current learning team. Describe a time when the members of your team have managed conflict by:
a. Avoidance
b. Competition
c. Accommodation
d. Collaboration
e. Compromise

Next, discuss which of the above conflict management methods seemed to yield the best outcomes for your learning team. Explain your rationale.
Since lack of input poses to be a problem with the current learning team, avoidance is used by team members. The remaining team members who show up for meetings and actively contribute have done so in a collaborative manner in order to finish the task at hand. The six conflict management strategies can occur in all teams, but the conflict management strategy that yields the best outcome is using collaboration. Collaboration is a means of problem solving that takes all ideas and finds the best solution based upon the ideas. If all team members bring ideas to the table, the learning team can then take all ideas into consideration and determine the best solution to the conflict.

4. Summarize the responses to #3 into five specific team rules about conflict management that describe how team members will respond and behave in challenging situations. Consider adopting the following phrasing:
When faced with conflict, our team will manage it by….

A. Create a schedule that lists who is responsible for what portion and the due date for inclusion in the overall project.

B. Everyone will communicate in a respectful manner.

C. Take constructive criticism and compromise

D. Work cooperatively with other members of the team.

E.  Participate and complete assignment on time

References

Hamilton, Cheryl R (2001) Communicating for Results. Belmont: Wadsworth / Thomson

Learning.

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