I never looked at it from this perspective, but conflicts are actually sometimes good. You have to choose the right grounds though. You have five different types: compromise, collaboration, avoidance, competing and accommodating. In this podcast, you’re going to learn a lot about the stages of a conflict, as well as the different ways of compromising.
Read Success teams and conflict. Complete the article with the headings (a-e)
a. Balancing the needs of the individual __
b. Adapting to context __
c. Utilizing conflict to reach our full potential __
d. Workplace conflict; a necessary evil? __
e. The role of conflict in team development __
__ 1 We’ve all been there. The boardroom fails silent as two o fits occupants lock horns. Some of the onlookers revel in the conflict, silently watching it unfold. Others try to pacify and mediate. Others still, strategically take sides. Although conflict in the workplace has traditionally been seen as detrimental, some modern theorists claim it is essential to productivity. An ugly, but necessary obstacle on the path to optimum performance. So, at what stage in a team’s development might conflict arise and how can it be successfully navigated.
__ 2 One of the first academics to see conflict as a necessary and inevitable part of a team’s development was the psychologist, Bruce Tuckman. In his 1965 publication, Development Sequence in Small Groups, Tuckman proposed a four-stage theory of team development. The model explains the maturity, development, relationships, and performance of a group. The four stages are:
At this stage, the group is created and learns about the opportunities and challenges available. They agree on goals and discuss how to tackle any issues present. One challenge at this stage is the fact that each team member will still largely be operating as an individual and the predominant behavior is polite and courteous, meaning people refrain from conflict. Leaders tend to play a dominant role at this stage, offering guidance and direction.
At this stage, people start to push against any of the established boundaries and begin to form strong opinions about the other personalities and characters in the group. When people are perceived as not pulling their weight or attempting to dominate the group, then others will push back. If disagreements and conflict of personality are not resolved at this stage, some teams may never move on, or will quickly re-enter this phase as disputes arise. Intolerance and impatience can be high. Managers frequently need to intervene in order to resolve issues.
If a group is able to move beyond the storming stage, then agreement and consensus evolves. Leaders can take more of a facilitative role, rather than acting as autocratic leaders, as people become comfortable with their colleagues and have a much clearer appreciation of their roles and responsibilities. Teams are committed and unified towards a common goal and strive to accommodate each other’s needs.
The team now has a shared vision that does not require the intervention of a leader. They work in a largely autonomous manner and generally want to outperform the goals set during the group’s inception. Conflict is easily resolved and the members now look to each other, rather than leadership, for help and support.
In 1977, Tuckman revised his theory to include a fifth stage:
This final stage reflects the status of a group after it has disbanded. If a strong team was formed initially, then the break-up stage can leave people feeling vulnerable and insecure about the change. A great deal of empathy is often required from management at this stage.
__ 3 Successfully navigating the “storming” stage of Tuckman’s model relies, in part, on the ability to recognize sources of conflict. A lack of shared goals or the perception of different priorities is a common cause of conflict, as are personality clashes. Significant differences in working styles, conflicting methods of communication, and different expectations of individual output can all contribute to a hostile working environment. People often value different things or face of scarcity of resources that makes it hard to collaborate. When individuals feel that they have to compete with other team members for a share of a limited budget, it is inevitable that conflict will occur.
__ 4 So if conflict of varying degrees is highly likely, what’s the best way to resolve the issues that arise? Given the diverse sources of conflict, it is perhaps unsurprising that successful teams are able to adapt their reactions to suit a range of contexts. According to Thomas and Kilmann, in conflict situations, as individual’s behavior can be broadly described along two dimensions; assertiveness (i.e., the extent to which the individual tries to satisfy his or her own need) and cooperativeness (i.e., the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the needs of his or her competitor). These two basic dimensions can then be used to define five conflict management styles:
Individuals show a high degree of cooperation, often to the detriment of their own objectives. It may involve yielding to the view of someone else, even when you disagree with them. This style works well when the other person has more expertise and/or style works well when the other person has more expertise and/or a better solution, and can also strengthen long-term relationships.
Here the individual neither addresses their own concerns, nor helps others resolve theirs. Rather than confront issues head on they actively avoid them, often by diplomatically moving to another topic, postponing discussion, or retreating from discussion altogether. For minor issues this is a good way to minimize conflict and is also effective when a situation is emotionally charged or tense. However, in the long-term, this strategy can lead to conflict and failure.
Here people mutually try to achieve both sets of goals through consultation, which can be effective in complex situations. However, it requires a lot of trust, time, and effort to reach a consensus that accommodates all ideas and perspectives.
Individuals aggressively pursue their own interests at the expense of those around them, subsequently making little to no attempt to cooperate. Often this approach does not work well and leads to the greatest amount of conflict. However, when decisive action is needed, for example, in times of emergency, this can be an effective way to resolve conflict.
This mode presents a happy medium. Both parties aim to find a mutually acceptable solution to the issue at hand. This might mean accepting views that you don’t agree with in order to have some of your own accommodated. This style could work when goals are of equal importance, but largely it leads to neither goal being reached effectively.
__ 5 Given the diffuse sources of conflict, a successful team must learn to adapt both its working and management styles in order to optimize performance, regardless of individual beliefs and preferences. In other words, teams that are unable to accommodate and harness conflict may never achieve their full potential. However you choose to address conflict in the workplace, one thing is clear; it is an essential part of a team’s development, and until we view it as such, we will consistently underperform.skillful reading 4