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Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution

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Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution


Teams are now a common part of today's workforce. They are advantageous for the productivity and morale of the individual employees. Yet with all groups come conflicts. Knowing how to handle a group conflict effectively and still work together is an integral part of a successful team. This paper will take a look at what a team is and the origins of teams. It will then transition to the processes involved in creating a team and then move to advantages and disadvantages of team. Finally, this paper will discuss conflicts in a team and how to resolve them efficiently.

Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution in Work Teams

For companies to remain competitive in today's economy, they need to look at their processes with a renewed vigor. Companies must become more creative, maintain higher morale, and become more efficient. Companies are learning that they can accomplish all the above by getting away from individual efforts and moving toward teams. For the next four points we will be discussing team building in the workforce, the process behind a team, advantages and disadvantages, and finally identifying and resolving conflicts.

To begin with, we need to establish the difference between a group and a team. According to Wisdom of Teens, Jon R. Katzenbach defines a group that has "no significant incremental performance need or opportunity." An example of a group would be a few co-workers placed together by management to come up with an ad campaign that is to be distributed amongst other employees. The co-workers belonging to the group does not work independently and they most likely come up with their ideas while together. Each person of the group does not work interdependently and individual co-workers are not independently accountable for specific tasks. A team is defined as "a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable." A baseball team is a great example of true teamwork. Each individual has his or her own job and it must be accomplished effectively in order for the team to win as a whole. The individual can be held accountable for his contributions.

Teams were introduced to the US by Japan. Japanese manufacturing plants were very successful during the 1950's and the US thought that this was a result of the "effective use of small groups." (Lippman-Blumen 1999). Teams were initially introduced to manufacturing plants. The introduction proved to have mixed results. Soon, the US team project took on a new direction when it started to incorporate research of teamwork that was performed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1940's and 50's. In the 1960's a prominent company named Procter and Gamble started utilizing teams in their work force. At this time, teams were still relatively new and unknown. P&G found this type of work atmosphere to be successful and saw that it had a "significant competitive advantage" (Stewart 1999.) P&G soon had its employees signing nondisclosure agreements because they viewed their work environment as confidential. With the company so successful, other companies starting poaching current employees of P&G and convinced them to bring their knowledge and experience with them to a new position at a new firm. As a result, the knowledge of teams began to spread. At According to Bolman-Deal (n.d.) Teams are now an integral part of the American workforce. Yet not all teams perform as anticipated. When a group is not given a clear purpose, they tend to fail. The process involved in selecting the team is important. Bolman-Deal (1992) states that teams that are given "clear goals, open communication, shared leadership, and a comfortable, informal atmosphere." are teams proven to succeed.

You cannot just through a group of people together and expect them to become a team overnight. There are several phases that a group will go through before they become a team. These phases have been grouped into five stages that include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each stage has unique characteristics that set it apart from the other stages.

Forming is the first stage and/or process of team development where individuals come together to create a learning or work team. During this initial stage, team members will get to know each other though expression of ideas, personalities, ideas and a mutual goal. There are usually feelings if timidity as everyone tries to figure out which role they should play and which tasks need to be accomplished.

Once individuals have had a chance to get to know each other, the next phase that a group will go through is referred to as norming. This is the process in which team members begin to experience anger and frustration over their debate as to which direction the group should take. Anger over leadership and individual workload begins to materialize. It is typical to have complete disarray during this phase of team development and very little work towards the end goal has been accomplished. During this stage, it is best for a team member to "not take sides" and to "develop communication channels. (Manz 1999.)

The third phase that a team will pass through is norming. Rules and guidelines are established and members can now get a feel that a team is in place. Personal conflicts are avoided and the task at hand becomes the main focus.

Performing is the fourth phase of team development. Team members have finally reached a point where they can feel that efforts are starting to pay off. This is the stage where the team performs work in harmony and thesaurus to obtain the predetermined tasks and goals. Individual personalities are more known throughout the group and team members are now on the same page with the same ideas and goals. Some other examples of performing include a higher productivity as a unit versus individually, a larger level of commitment and self-discipline.

The final phase of team development is adjourning. This is a stage or process where the team is dispersed and moves on to other objectives. The anticipated goal of this phase is to complete all objectives and take lessons learned with you to your next team. During this stage, teams should be recognized and rewarded for their hard work. This can help ensure that individuals stay motivated and assist in the overall success and growth of team building in the



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