Managing Individual Behavior

Managing Conflicts

In a dynamic team, conflict is inevitable and a healthy sign of a functional team geared towards productivity. In fact, a team without conflict is a sign of an unhealthy agreement and a domineering leader who suppresses other people’s opinion (“Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict,” n.d). When working with a group of people, conflict is necessary to trigger creativity and innovation. Teams foster creativity by being able to criticize and debate ideas as a way of encouraging the generation of new ideas. Managing conflicts is a key management competency to maintain a healthy working environment.  Consistently, and based on Kolb’s experiential learning theory, we elaborate on the abstract concept of managing team conflicts and attempt to apply the knowledge in a real situation. More specifically, we preview an experience with a team that was meaningful to me that had either extraordinarily good or bad experience. Then drawing upon Kolb’s learning styles model, we reflect on it, conceptualize upon it using critical thinking skills to get a deeper understanding, and identify ways we can actively apply the knowledge acquired in a similar experience in the future. 

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Concrete Experience

When working as a team, discrimination can be a source of heated conflict and potentially end up jeopardizing the productivity of an organization. Conflicts based on discrimination can arise from personal prejudices on the part of employees or perception of mistreatment by employees. In my team, one particular individual had joined the team and was not as experienced as the rest of the group members. As a rule, and in the spirit of teamwork, the worker was assigned the work alongside one experienced team member to guide him in his work. Consequently, due to the nature of our job, it is important that a new member learn the loops first because a mistake can be fatal. Unfortunately, the employee was not happy as he viewed the member as a supervisor who constantly corrected his mistakes. Slowly, the member began harboring resentment against the team member and eventually started lashing out through decreased productivity until one day he verbally attacked the member. Resolving the issue required sitting down with the whole team and discussing the way tasks are assigned and the importance of working together. It was also a moment to let the new member understand that he was not being treated differently; rather it was just one way of taking precautions due to the nature of the job. From a personal view, although resolving this was challenging, it was also a good experience showing employees the importance of teamwork and getting their views. 

Reflective Observation

Conflicts often arise from differences and occur when people fail to agree over their values, perceptions, ideas, and desires. According to Segal  & Smith (2018), sometimes, the differences may be trivial, but when a conflict arises, the situation can trigger strong feelings and a need to solve the problem at the center. Various theories of conflict attempt to explain the way individuals within the society interact based on conflict. Unfortunately, despite the magnitude, no single theory exhaustively explains conflict. Nonetheless, within teams, conflicts are a natural part of the team process and usually arise from different sources. People sometimes may confuse about other’s position, personality differences, and hidden agendas among others. Virtually, the biggest challenge lies in determining the source of the conflict and knowing whether it is healthy for the team or an underlying symptom that is likely to cause trouble (“Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict,” n.d). Sometimes people view the conflict from a negative perspective, but there are several benefits when it is managed the right way. From a negative view, conflicts have the potential to create strong negative emotions and stress among members of the team.  On the brighter side, conflicts encourage teams to explore new methods to solve issues, encourage the generation of new ideas, and motivate people to understand things better. Conflicts highlight problems that have been ignored and encourage members to debate and generate new ideas on ways to resolve the controversies. Reflecting on the experience, taking the conflict positively enabled it to handle it appropriately. The new team member was justified to harbor resentment and lash out at the team members. Talking with him the importance of teamwork was the best experience.

Abstract Conceptualization

Depending on their social relations, the specific situation, and the individual personality, people use several approaches to resolve conflicts. According to “Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict” (n.d) conflict resolution can be based on two dimensions; distribution and integration. Conflict can be resolved by either being assertive or cooperative and showing concern to everyone involved. The two dimensions can also be applied using five different approaches to conflict resolution. The first approach is avoidance, where the issue is ignored, and team members assume that it will go away on its own. The second approach is accommodation, where members may choose to give up their position to avoid a conflict. The approach is likely to deny the group value for their ideas or opinions. The third approach is the confrontation method, where team members aggressively try to solve the conflict by leaning towards one side. The fourth method is the compromised approach, which involves attaining a balance between individual goals. The last method is the collaboration where both sides search for a solution that will satisfy everyone. Based on the concepts of conflict resolution, the most appropriate that identifies my way of resolving conflicts is the collaboration, compromise, and accommodation approaches. Virtually, resolving the issue demanded to make difficult decisions to improve the situation and not escalate it. It was also important to engage the team members collaboratively, encourage them to accommodate each other’s opinions, and compromise where it was necessary. Notably, it was not easy to implement the proposed change, as forces for change were pitted against the forces resisting change from the new member. Nevertheless, applying the Force Field Analysis made the task easy (“Force Field Analysis: Analyzing the Pressures For and Against Change,” 2016). Using the five steps outlined we were able to describe the plan, which involved changing the employee’s attitude towards the other team members. In the second step, we identified the forces for change and the forces against change. In this case, we wanted the employee to get integrated into the system of teamwork and accept correction where need be. The forces against change included resistance from the new member of the team. After this, we analyzed the influence each force has and assigned scores. The last step was to analyze and apply the change by discussing with the employee on the importance of teamwork and motivating him to accept correction and change. 

Active Experimentation

Conflicts at the workplace and among teams are normal. Teams often ignore or avoid conflicts instead of addressing them, which allows them to grow, and sometimes affects productivity. As a leader, the conflict resolution concepts provide a solid foundation for me and a better approach to address conflicts in case they arise in the team. The knowledge gives me a proactive approach to identify and manage conflicts. The information will also help me nurture an environment that supports constructive controversy so that disagreements can be addressed appropriately. 

As a military personnel overseeing the electricians and production personnel, my work is mainly centered around ensuring teams complete projects efficiently and effectively. The team consists of individuals from various cultural and ethical backgrounds. Besides, working together will always bring up some misunderstanding, however small they may be. Understanding how to manage conflicts and resolve them amicably is important to ensure continued productivity. The concepts outlined in conflict management provide a conceptual framework to understand the various approaches that be used to resolve conflicts among teams. 

References

“Force Field Analysis: Analyzing the Pressures For and Against Change.” (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm

“Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict.” (n.d.) Sage Publication. Retrieved from: http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/54195_Chapter_7.pdf

Segal, J., & Smith, M. (2018). Conflict resolution skills: Building the skills that can turn conflicts into opportunities. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/conflict-resolution-skills.htm

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