Team Conflict Resolution

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Team Conflict Resolution Essay, Research Paper


Team Conflict Resolution


A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the requirement for the degree

Master of Arts

Human Resource Development

Table of Contents

Page 3 Purpose and introduction

Page 4 Acknowledge that conflict exists

Page 5 Identify the real conflict

Page 7 Hear all points of view

Page 7 Together explore ways to resolve the conflict

Page 9 Gain agreement on, and responsibility for , a solution

Page 10 Schedule a follow-up session to review the resolution


Conflict in teams is inevitable, proper handling of conflict

can enhance a team?s performance. Team members deal with conflict in various ways. Some evade it, some face it objectively, and others let emotions take over! When members in the same team use a blend of these reactions, the outcome may be unfavorable and in most cases it will deteriorate the teams productivity. This work will address ways to effectively resolve conflict.

Team Conflict Resolution


The purpose of this work is to demonstrate how groups

can benefit from conflict. Teams need to recognize that conflict exists. Find out what is the real issue. Listen to all points of view from all involved. As a team explore ways to come to a decision to resolve the conflict. Gain agreement on, and responsibility for implementing a solution. Schedule follow-up meetings to review the progress of the resolution.

Human beings deal with conflict in various ways. Some evade it, some face it objectively, and others let emotions take over! When members in the same team use a combination of these reactions, the outcome may be disastrous to the team. In most cases it will deteriorate the teams productivity. ?Current trends toward downsizing, flatter hierarchies, teams, quality, and multiple responsibilities are intensifying the interdependency between employees. Most organizations inadequately equip their staff to effectively negotiate work relationships in these challenging times.? (Mediation Training Institute International http:

?The following six items will help you build a mastery for team conflict resolution.

1.Acknowledge that conflict exists

2.Identify the real conflict

3.Hear all points of view

4.Together explore ways to resolve the conflict

5.Gain agreement on, and responsibility for , a solution

6. Schedule a follow-up session to review the resolution.?(The Paragon Generation, May, 18, 1999. Teamwork. Paragon Supercharged Tips. WWW.PARAGON.COM)

Conflict is often viewed as something teams should avoid. When we picture conflict, we often think about arguing, combative situations, and unpleasantness. Conflict is frequently viewed in negative ways, there are many positive paybacks conflict can generate for teams. To obtain these paybacks, a team must be ready to tackle conflict. Dealing openly with conflict has many benefits for the team and its members. The benefits are improved problem resolution, productivity, positive organizational changes, and personal development.

Conflict can help the team in producing better solutions because conflict will force groups to confront potential short comings in a solution. Conflict can help group members examine the details of the group?s goals, procedures, solutions to guarantee that the best choice for the group is selected.

?Managng conflict helps reduce the amount of time consumed on solutions that are not as effective and that might have a negative effect on the group’s productivity. By avoiding conflict, group members are more likely to become separated from the group and begin to slack off having an adverse effect on group productivity.? (The Paragon Generation, May, 18, 1999. Teamwork. Paragon Supercharged Tips. WWW.PARAGON.COM)

Conflict aids in categorizing possible problems resulting from responsibilities, assignments, and procedures in teams. By allowing conflict to crop up in a group, the group might find that the specific regulations, protocols, and procedures for doing tasks might not be best suited for the teams operation. Permitting conflict will allow a team the chance to change itself to obtain a better working team.

Conflict teaches folks what types of conflict styles are appropriate in an assortment of conflict situations. By dealing with conflict, team members can begin to learn how to use conflict styles to produce solutions to team conflict issues.

Addressing conflicts permits team members to vent their emotions, release stress, and tensions. By facing conflict together, team members have the potential to draw closer to other team members, which has a positive effect on the team.

?There are a number of helpful techniques that allow groups to identify the real conflict among their members. These include A straw poll, A go-round, small group discussions, and a fishbowl.

A straw poll is a non-binding vote on a proposal to determine the level of agreement of the individuals within the group. Straw polls have various drawbacks: it might cause group thinking to occur, suppress viewpoints that are in the minority, provide the sense of discord, or cause others to feel exclude from the group. Often, straw polls work best AFTER the group has discussed concerns of the proposal. When conducting a straw poll, individuals should not be counting who is for or against a specific proposal.

A go-round is designed to allow everyone in the room a moment to speak. In a go-round, each individual is yielded the floor to discuss the topic at hand. In a go-round, each individual states a position and explains their reasoning behind their position. Go-rounds are very effective for allowing equal time to all individuals in the group. This is especially beneficial for hearing the opinions of quieter group members who often refrain from speaking in an open, unstructured discussion.

Depending of the size of your group, sometimes it is beneficial to break the group into small group discussions to allow individuals to express their ideas and concerns. A small group discussion is beneficial when a group is large, pressed for time and wants to explore the various views of the group. After small group discussion occurs, a member from each group summarizes their discussion to provide the larger group with an understanding of the various positions and ideas within the group. Small group discussions allow for a group to generate various positions available on a topic and help to lead discussions about the various concerns and issues rose by group members.

After various positions from group members have been identified, a fishbowl can be used to explore the ideas and concerns related to each position. In a fishbowl, representatives for each position are chosen to represent and explain their position and answer any concerns related to this position. A fishbowl is arranged to avoid repetitive arguments from appearing and to expedite the discussion. A fishbowl is beneficial because it allows all positions to be discussed without having to have everyone in the room overlap their ideas with everyone else. A fishbowl allows for a condensing of discussion of an issue but does not sacrifice the quality of the discussion.? (Donald Bodwell. (1996- 2000) High Performance Teams (On Line)

Make sure the team hears all points of view. All group members do not need to be present when every decision is being made, it is important for the group to determine which group members are essential for dealing with a specific problem. A general rule of thumb is to make sure that those individuals that are affected by the decision are present when the decision is being made. Make sure that all team members have input and have a chance to express their viewpoint on the issue. By having all members express their viewpoint and input into the resolution the team has ownership in the solution. ?When people become involved in the problem, they become significantly and sincerely committed to coming up with solutions to the problem.? (Stephen Covey)

As the team explores ways to resolve the conflict, focus on a win-win solution. Two ways to resolve a conflict are, compromise, and collaboration.

?In some cases, it is not possible for the goals of all the members to be met. The needs of the team and the task-related goals of the members may both be important, but not vital, to the participants. In such situations, a compromise is one way in which the conflict can be resolved. A compromise is characterized by give-and-take on the parts of all members. Participants may give in on one point in order to gain an advantage on another.? (Donald Bodwell. (1996- 2000) High Performance Teams (On Line) http://rampages.onramp. net)

Compromising involves negotiation, trade-offs, and a high degree of flexibility. ?People who can’t admit they are part of the problem, will never be part of its solution.?(Kenneth Kaye)

The team members in a compromise situation each get a little bit of what they want, but may not agree with the finished result and or product. In order to get what you want, you have to give something up in the process. ?This approach has a medium degree of focus on the task at hand, and medium focus on the personal relationships and feelings of the people.? (The Paragon Generation, May,18, 1999. Teamwork. Paragon Supercharged Tips. WWW.PARAGON.COM)

?There are two forms of compromise: firm and flexible. A firm orientation to compromise involves a competitive negotiating posture–while willing to compromise, the communicator still tries to maximize their gains and minimize costs. With a flexible orientation, the communicator adopts a cooperative negotiating posture, trying to insure that everyone gains as much as possible of what they want.? (Donald Bodwell. (1996- 2000) High Performance Teams (On Line)

Often, compromise produces a result that is less than ideal for the group. At other times, a compromise is the best a group can expect to achieve especially if individual team members are more committed to their own agendas than the teams agenda. Team members often view compromise as losing. Even though compromise requires a loss of specific elements of each person’s position, a compromise solution can still approximately resemble an ample portion of an individual’s primary position.

When the task, inter-personal and group well being are all important to team members they may choose to collaborate in solving the conflict facing them. Compromise is the most time consuming of the methods because it requires that team members debate the issues involved in the conflict and arrive at a solution that is acceptable to all. The purpose is to find a way to resolve the conflict so that the goals and interests of all of the team members are met. ?The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.? (Albert Einstein)

Collaboration is usually thought to be the best, but most difficult, way of handling conflict. A collaborative arrangement attempts to bring about a climate that will allow each team member to explore and comprehend the other team member?s position. It identifies areas where agreement exists and where there are differences assessing alternatives and choosing solutions that have the full support and commitment of both sides. This approach has a high degree of point of convergence on the task at hand, but with an equal accent on personal relationships and the feelings of the team members involved.

?One of the keys to emotional intelligence and emotional awareness is the ability to understand the difference between validation and invalidation. To validate someone’s feelings is to accept, understand, and nurture their feelings. To validate is to acknowledge and accept one’s unique identity and individuality. Invalidation, on the other hand, is to reject, ignore, or judge their feelings, and hence, their individual identity. When we validate someone, we allow them to safely share their feelings and thoughts. We are reassuring them that it is okay to have the feelings they have. We are demonstrating that we will still accept them after they have shared their feelings. We let them know that we respect their perception of things at that moment. We help them feel heard, acknowledged, understood and accepted. Sometimes validation entails listening, sometimes it is a nod or a sign of agreement or understanding, sometimes it can be a hug or a gentle touch. Sometimes it means being patient when the other person is not ready to talk. A few keys to validation are: Acknowledging the other person’s feelings, identifying the feelings, offering to listen, helping them label the feelings, being there for them; remaining present physically and emotionally, feeling patient, and feeling accepting and non-judgmental.? Mayer, J.D., DiPaolo, M.T., & Salovey, P. (1990). Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: A component of emotional intelligence. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54, 772-781.

After, all members of the team have participated in the first four steps. Gain agreement on, and concur upon responsibility for a solution. Then the team assigns responsibility to members to ensure that the solution is implemented.

Failing to plan sufficiently on how to implement and measure the value of the chosen solution is a trap that many teams fall into. After a long or difficult debate on the positions and concerns, group members become too exhausted to participate in a vigorous discussion of how to evaluate and implement the solution. The evaluation of the solution needs to be based on a set of pre-determined metrics developed by the team. Implementation needs to be planned, managed, and monitored. There needs to be resources available and used to implement the solution. Without taking the time to properly evaluate and implement the solution, the entire process of developing a solution is useless.

The team needs to set up follow up meetings to evaluate the progress of the implementation of the solution. One successful method is to chart and post your metric?s and update at predetermined intervals. This allows all team and non-team associates in the organization to see the progress of the solution.


(Bodwell Donald. (1996- 2000) High Performance Teams (On Line)

(Davis-Stitt, Carene Ph.D. Mediation Training Institute International

Mayer, J.D., DiPaolo, M.T., & Salovey, P. (1990). Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: A component of emotional intelligence. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54, 772-781.

?(The Paragon Generation, May, 18, 1999. Teamwork. Paragon Supercharged Tips. WWW.PARAGON.COM)

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