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Strategies for Resolving Team Conflict

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Strategies for Resolving Team Conflict

Strategies for Resolving Team Conflict

Dealing with conflict is always a challenging situation, which requires team members to be integrated into a single, organized unit (Bolger, 2003). Conflict among teams is bound to occur no matter how much one tries to avoid it. While resolving all conflicts is not possible, these conflicts can be dealt with using the correct methodology. To address team conflict there are five methods: Accommodate, Compromise, Enforce, Explore, and Postpone (Bolger, 2003).


Bases for using the accommodation strategy occurs when working together to accomplish goals are far more important than sorting out personal differences. This means that individuals or teams decide to go along with another’s point of view or decision. This strategy can be chosen when there is a subject matter specialist present who has more expertise in a given discipline or when a team has greater ownership of the issue and the outcome or result is not as important (Sessa, 1996). The accommodation strategy reduces group disagreement and helps an individual appear reasonable by submitting to another person’s point of view. In many, situations this approach provides good will for bargaining at a later date. However, caution should be exercised, because if this strategy is overutilized the team will assume that individual is weak. Conversely the team will consider that individual unreasonable if accommodation is overutilized.


Compromising occurs when individuals or teams agree to yield their positions on certain issues in order to meet each other half way; however, this means that no one individual will have his or her needs met. With this strategy, the team feels ownership towards achieving an agreement or positive outcome, and it builds commitment which diminishes adverse feelings. Some of the limitations of this strategy are that team members may try to personally benefit from others trust and openness. However, this objective is generally thought to be the best approach in addressing conflict since the goal is to reach consensus (Barker, et al., 1991).


To enforce is to take what ever steps are required to back a non-negotiable mind set. In many cases this mind-set occurs when an individual feels strongly about ones point of view and takes a non-compromising stance on the issue. This strategy should be used to assume a firm position; for example when there is not enough time to conduct an ongoing discussion about a given subject. However, in the event that this strategy is used excessively, some team members could consider themselves losers and try to retaliate. Additionally, it is also possible that team members could become too frustrated to voice their points of view or will no longer even try to participate (Fisher, et al., 1991). If this strategy is under used, one may be perceived as lacking assertiveness or be seen as being vulnerable.


The Explore strategy is used when team members or other teams develop and investigate new ideas together. This approach produces a high level of satisfaction since the group feels a large amount of pride in ownership and accomplishment by all their needs being met (Miles & Mangold, 2002). The Explore strategy is also beneficial because solutions are discovered that had not been previously considered by the team (Bolger, 2003). The concerns presented by this strategy are that it consumes a great deal of time and is dependent on good communication skills and an open-minded mentality. In addition,

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