People in organizations must have the ability to work in a team environment, such as workplace, community, charity, church, and academic study groups. Small groups are formed to communicate, face-to-face, in order to fulfill a common purpose and achieve a group goal. Over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies use decision-making groups in their daily operations. Whatever type of group one is involved in, members interact with each other to gain positive results. Team members must enhance their listening skills to learn, grow, and feel our thoughts expanding and get insights when interacting in group situations. Many individual ideas grow by brainstorming with others.
Small groups of people who relate to one another in ways that make them interdependent to some significant degree. Although working together interdependently is effective, conflicts do arise. Conflict is frequently characterized as a controversy between interrelated individuals who intervene with one another in reaching their objectives (Mc Ready 191). When there is a breakdown in communication, conflicts will arise; however, there are effective ways to resolve them.
Improved communication is the key to keeping work teams on course. Because of the rapid change in corporate society of today, this remains true more than ever before. One conflict in work teams is not being able to adapt to changing situations. Change of time, as well as place for meeting places, are facts of life. When team members don't make themselves available, don't pay attention, and don't inform each other on time, these issues can cause problems. For instance, Mark, the marketing manager, was promoting a new product and set a meeting for Tuesday, January 15, at one o'clock.
Ten executives were invited two weeks prior to this meeting. An urgent service came up and the marketing manager had a flight that afternoon. The day prior to the meeting, he sent e-mail to all ten executives, asking them to arrive at eleven o'clock a. m. instead of one o'clock p. m. Art, the graphic designer, was not aware of the time change until he arrived at the office. The receptionist informed him that the meeting had started already at eleven o'clock a. m. He burst into the room one hour late, interrupted the meeting, and began ramping and raging and blaming Mark for not receiving prior notification of the change in time.
He had difficulties accessing his e-mail because the modem on his laptop was not connecting him onto the Internet. The solution for this problem is very simple; it is imperative that individuals within work teams communicate effectively. Open communication is a factor of conflict resolution; it prevents difficulties from occurring within work teams (DeVoe 69). Nowadays, we are able to stay informed through various forms of communication: telephone, fax transmittal's, letters, pagers, and e-mail. Mark should have contacted Art personally and this conflict would not have occurred. Another conflict within a group is lack of clear direction.
Different individuals may suggest moving in a variety of directions; time is wasted and the objective is beyond achievement. Group members spend time on insignificant details. For example, a group of marketing managers and advertisers try to promote new computer games. Mr. Green visualizes the whole picture; he talks about the big concept and all the potential clients he is going to attract. In contrast, Mr. Smith wants to complete the small details first. He stops Mr. Green very frequently with questions regarding each client's behavior.
Mr. Smith does not allow Mr. Green to continue to the next client. The two are persistent in stating their positions and each of them insists that their way is the best, but there is no progress. Mr. Reed, the third member, joins in and suggests combining the two approaches. "Let us discuss the whole picture first, then go back and expand on the details". Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Green agreed to cooperate.
The meeting ended up being very productive. From this concept, team members have to listen thoughtfully to each other and try to understand and appreciate their different learning approaches. A group should be generating ideas in unison and realize what objectives they must accomplish. They can decide to use each other's approaches, expand their minds, and learn in different styles. Also, use time for self-analysis and welcome constructive criticism from others. Now, when Mr. Green and Mr. Smith disagree, they know how to handle their disagreement in a friendly and mature way.
With the assistance of a third team member, their meeting was more productive. Another group conflict is uneven contribution. This happens when some members feel they provide more input and work than other members within the group do. The group member follows along with the entire group and complies with everyone else's expressions of ideas. Roles may shift from one subject area to another; each member shares their level of knowledge and experience in subjects of familiarity. To illustrate an example of this conflicting situation, let's examine a group member who is not contributing in San Rafael's downtown Fourth Street Farmer's Market committee meetings.
She does not volunteer to participate in the group's oral brainstorming sessions. The rest continue to come up with ideas, based on their own experiences and knowledge, for further discussion. When they start talking about each topic in more depth, she constantly seems to be shy and does not speak up. Unknowingly, this affects the group's overall performance by not expressing her opinions. Meanwhile, the group started to question her attitude.
This type of behavior is defined as the follower: one who goes along with the movement of the group, more or less passively accepting the ideas of others. This passive behavior can create tension within the group. To provide more input and equal contributions, other in the group should encourage the weaker member. The members of the committee need to support the non-contributor by understanding his dynamics while interacting in a group environment.
Another group member, who has strong interpersonal skills, may volunteer to work with the quiet individual to improve their interaction with others in the group. Openly discuss feelings within the group in order to determine the best solution. Appreciate diversity and try to understand the individual's personal characteristics, attitudes, and values of others. Make the extra effort to get along with others whose beliefs and backgrounds are vastly different from your own. Take steps to balance assignments and stress the importance of doing the share of the workload. It is necessary to have input from all the members from start to finish.
Small groups are constantly forming within organizations for a number of reasons. To support the group's efforts and provide better teamwork environment, individuals must know how to interact with each other effectively. Synergy is the fruit of finding a win-win situation. Groups often come up with solutions that are superior to the thinking of any single member.
When conflicts occur within a group, members must continue to learn how to resolve them with appropriate methods and techniques. It is important to know and practice these techniques in order to avoid waste of time, hard feelings, and loss of productivity. As group members learn to understand the others' point of view, they often find their own point of view changed through increased understanding..