Avoiding conflicts in the workplace can be very difficult; you will find those who will go to great extremes to avoid these situations. The higher one advances in the workplace the more you find people spending excessive amount of time trying to avoid debates that are vital to any great team. It is important to differentiate between productive conflict and destructive fighting; and limit it to ideas and thoughts. However, you can have many of the same external characters of conflict, passion, emotion, and frustration-so much so that an outside observer might simply mistake it for an unproductive dispute. Teams that engage in productive conflict do so only to convey the best possible solution in the shortest period of time. They discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than others; as well as emerge from intense debates with no permanent damage to the group; but with an excitement and eagerness to take on the next important issue.
Teams that avoid conflict at all possibility do so to avoid hurting others feelings; this only encourages dangerous tension. When team members do not openly discuss important issues, they often end up striking back with personal attacks, which are far more damaging than any heated argument. So many people avoid conflict because they believe they are saving time; when actually healthy conflict is more of a time saver. Teams waste more time and energy arguing, than those that avoid conflict. By avoiding conflict you end up revisiting issues over and over again without resolution. For a team to develop the ability and willingness to engage in healthy conflict they must first acknowledge that conflict is productive.
As long as one or two team members believe that conflict is unproductive, there is little chance that your team will be able to resolve this matter. Beyond sheer recognition, there are a few easy methods for making conflict more productive: Mining - Any member of the team that is incline to avoid conflict must occasionally assume the role of a "miner of conflict", someone who exposes hidden disagreements within the team. They must identify sensitive issues among the team and force all team members to work through them. This requires being neutral during the meeting and a commitment to stay with the conflict until it is resolved. Real-Time Permission - In the process of mining for conflict, team members may need to remind one another not to depart from healthy debate. If you find that team members are feeling uncomfortable with the level of friction it is important to interrupt them and remind them that what they are doing is essential for making conflict more productive.
It can become challenging for leaders to encourage healthy conflict when team members engage in profound conflict. However, by interrupting you prevent the team members from developing necessary coping skills for dealing with conflicts. Therefore, no matter how messy the situation may become it is necessary for the leader to restrain them self from interrupting. By engaging in productive conflict and being open to members' ideas and opinions, a team can commit and make reasonable decision knowing that they have benefited from everyone's thoughts. Being with a group of people just this weekend for work I have learned a lot about lack of commitment. There is never a time when you will not learn something in the real world today.
Lack of commitment has many key points that need to be addressed. In a team environment there are two things that are very important, clarity and buy in. Examples of these are when a problem arises, a resolution is discussed and thought through. So that its members now move forward with a buy in.
Even if there is a disagreement among member they all can be confident in the outcome. There are two great causes for lack of commitment. The first is the desire for consensus and second the need for certainty. This past weekend my team was brainstorming and many great ideas came to light. In the end only one could be put into place. Although everyones ideas were genuinely considerate and thought thru.
In the end the entire team supported the final decision made by the team leader. The need for certainly is also recognized when everyone on the team can be seen and heard. This way there is no lack of certainty within the group which could also cause a malfunction within the team. The team will see no one sided decision making or think otherwise on how the action was put into place by their leader. Delaying of important decision can cause a rift between members as well as changing a decision in the middle of an action. If these are done team members will feel a lack of confidence and also will result in a lack of commitment from your group members.
If a leader makes a firm decision without lack of confidence it will result in a domino effect within the team and further within the organization. Just like this weekend there was an agreement among team members that there would be a team effort of a common goal. Instead of people arguing over who's was who's and how many the result was the best weekend in the Region for the company. Here are some suggestions on overcoming dysfunction within a group. The first is cascading messaging. This is the most valuable disciplines that any team can adopt and only takes a short amount of time to implement.
At the end of any meeting a team should review any key decisions made and agree on what needs to be communicated to employees. What often happens that I have found in my group meetings is that the team will learn they are not all on the same page about what has been agreed upon. There is a need to clarify among each other specific outcomes before putting them into action. Also become aware of what needs to remain confidential along with what needs to be communicated quickly and intelligently.
When leaving a meeting that has been clearly laid out amongst the team members the leaders will have sent a welcomed powerful message to its employees. Normally the employees are accustomed to receiving inconsistent statements from other managers. Secondly, one of the things that is common is the understanding of when things are due or a deadline date. Timing is everything.
Make sure everyone is on the same page so that there can be a great finish in the end. When needing to overcome worse case scenarios the team can briefly discuss contingency plans up front with each other or bring up the worst case scenario amongst each other so that there can be an easier decision making process. It also gives the team members less stress and reduces many things such as fear and anxiety. The end result is that they realize that mistakes can be overcome and not be devastating. This team may have created some of their problems by avoiding accountability. When team members do not hold each other accountable for their actions or lack there of, the whole team looses.
In many cases one or more of the team members become complacent, even dependant. Leaving the rest of the team to carry their load. This could lead to missed deadlines and all around poor performance. Teams that allow their performance to suffer because of a single individual only allow resentment to build. To cure this the team should look at why they are not holding each other accountable. Usually it is due to his or her own uneasiness of confronting another team member.
Calling an individual out, they feel, will create more problems then quietly ignoring the situation. So they do nothing. The fact is that while they are trying to avoid a confrontation they are creating larger more emotional problems, like resentment. This team could assign a leader to resolve issues between team members, but that can present it's own problems.
This only really works if the leader encourages the team to hold each other accountable and only steps in when needed. If the team depends solely on their leader for discipline they may hold back when they see a problem. Individual members may not present their issues to the team as a whole so that they can be resolved, again leaving the door open to resentment. The best solution that I have found is to announce from the start what is expected of the team as a whole and what is expected of each team member. If the guidelines are clear and each person knows what is expected of them, it will be easier for team members to say when someone is not living up to what the team had anticipated. Once all the teams's tandards have been established they should be kept where all members can see and read them clearly; so that no one will be able to overlook or ignore them.
Teams need to learn how to talk to each other in an effective manner. Wayne A. Davis cited in his article, Implicature, one principle and "the four 'maxims's pacifying how to be cooperative": The cooperative principle. Contribute what is required by the accepted purpose of the conversation.
The maxim of quality. Make your contribution true, so do not convey what you believe false or unjustified. The maxim of quantity. Be as informative as required, neither more nor less so. The maxim of relevance. Be relevant The maxim of manner.
Be perspicuous, so avoid obscurity and ambiguity, and be brief and orderly. By adhering to these sayings a team will be better able to communicate what they believe to be good and bad without over stating themselves. This may save feelings from being hurt and keep conversations on a more professional level. Regular reviews are one way that may help. This will let every one know if they are living up to the teams's tandards or where they are slacking. This will also allow the team to give input and get feedback on their performance.
If the team as a whole lives up to their potential between reviews, then maybe a team reward is in order. Note that it is better to reward the whole team, not the individual. This encourages the team to work as a unit. If team members are not held accountable for their work, they are likely to become single minded. Working for their own goals and achievements. Companies may decide to implement teaming in their work environment but their actions with regard to pay incentives, and reward programs often send a different message.
Rebecca Sisco states in her article; Put your money where you teams are (1992), "With a limited sum of money to divvy up, managers may rank-order team members to decide who should get the largest increase." This approach still places the emphasis on individual performance. Employees will continue to focus on their personal goals when employees continue to receive merit increases based on their individual accomplishments. The other approach she mentions in her article is that "they may choose to give everybody a satisfactory but not outstanding rating, so that everybody gets a moderate, approximately equal amount." This approach tends to place tension between the employees who feel they handle most of the work load and the employees who are not performing at the same level. Employers spend large sums of money training and re-organizing people into cross-functional teams to; improve performance results, reduce defects, and improve business procedures. But, cross-training does not improve every team member's performance to be equal with the other members of the group. For a process so costly to implement, little attention is given to the reward process, which could ultimately aid their efforts to make teaming successful for their organizations.
Standard budgets designed for individual merit increases do not provide sufficient monies to supply both, individual and team, reward programs. Employers must increase their budgets to allow more financial incentives for an employee's contributions to the team's success.