Conflict as a Measure of Team Development The ability of a team to resolve conflict is a valid measure of team development. The role of conflict in work teams is determined by the manner in which it is managed. Conflict is a driving force of change that can result in improved decision-making processes and progressive team development. However, teams must learn to be confrontational without destroying the team process. Teams are able to handle conflict and perform at a high level by following a framework of communication needed for managing conflict constructively.
Teams capable of mediating their own conflicts, improve both productivity and member relationships without the fallout. 1. Coercing: is a process in which groups use confrontational tactics, such as argument, use of authority, or threat, to achieve the goals of each group regardless of the expense paid by the other. 2. Withdrawal: is the process by which both parties involved in a disagreement postpone or ignore the issue causing the conflict. 3.
Negotiation: is the process by which both groups selectively ignore certain interests in order to reach an agreement, thus achieving partial satisfaction for each side. 4. Accommodation: is the process by which one group neglects its own interests by satisfying the needs of the other group involved. One of the most used forms of solving conflict in the work place is Drinka's model of team development. It helps display the dynamic changes of conflict through the following developmental phases: forming, nor ming, confronting, and performing.
The forming phase consists of the superficial sharing of names and background information among team members. In this stage, members are unsure of team purposes and are guarded. Conflict is neither discussed, nor addressed. Typically, this is a stage where accommodation is overused, as members size one another up and hesitate to assume strong positioning in the team. During the nor ming stage, members address initial conflicts that grow out of a lack of understanding of team goals.
Procedures and policies are made in writing. Negotiation is used in the nor ming stage to help aid in establishing the team's written guidelines. Having a written set of rules and policies keeps situations from erupting into disagreements. Team members refer to these policies as a way of avoiding open conflict.
Frustration builds during the advanced stages of the nor ming phase. At this point, members begin to coerce others in an attempt to retain their power within the team. By contrast, some individuals revert to withdrawal tactics as a way of holding onto their power and to avoid conflict. The next level is confronting phase.
The main point of conflict erupts during this phase, as there is a struggle for leadership and the continued retention of power. Members tend to act coercive toward one another, or other members withdraw. In mid-phase, some members realize the advantages of constructive confrontation as a tool for problem solving. These members go on to become functional leaders. With this transition, the balance of power is altered until the rest of the team members find their potential for filling a functional team role. Once every member realizes the contributive power within each functional role, they feel empowered to use conflict for collaboration; thus, the team gains the capacity to develop further.
The last step of this phase is the team's demonstrated reliance on collaborative skills for problem solving and obtaining agreed upon solutions. This phase of confrontation is critical to the continued development of the team. A typical consequence of un managed conflict during this stage is the regression of the team to earlier developmental stages. Therefore, there is a strong emphasis for team members to recognize the equal participation in decision-making and leadership available in each functional role of the team The next level of development is the performing phase, in which members assume advanced teaching roles in the team and protect the right to power of other members. Conflict in this final stage is directed at the content of task issues and less towards the individual members. The differences of each team member are appreciated and members trust one another enough to view conflicts as normal.
By the time the team reaches the performing stage, a comfortable environment is created in which each member is accustomed to open disagreement. As a result of this open environment, the team reestablishes itself with greater depth and understanding after resolving each conflictual issue. The ability to promote disagreement in the form of constructive confrontation comes with the achieved roles of advanced team members. Having reached the performing stage, these members are able to constantly handle conflict as it erupts.
This is damaging to the success of the team as the innovative ness of the conflict solution depends on the applicability of the style of management used to fit the situation. Also, it is imperative that all team members learn to assume leadership. The passing on of this learned, leadership knowledge to new members of the team helps combat the regression pitfalls of turnover rates in teams.