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Conflict Management Within Teams

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Essay title: Conflict Management Within Teams

Conflict Management within Teams

Conflict within teams or in the workplace is inevitable and could happen on a daily basis. How you manage or resolve these conflicts could improve team relationships and enrich the team’s productivity. Everybody has their preferred style of dealing with conflict, but individual approaches will vary depending on the conflict at hand. However you deal with the conflict you should try to find the balance between satisfying your concerns and satisfying the concerns of others in the team.

Conflicts exist in our teams for several reasons: there are personality clashes, we have to cope with aggressive personalities or we experience role conflict from high expectations. We can categorize the many sources of conflict into three terms of external factors, internal factors and the behavior of others. External factors are those conflicts that surround and impact the team such as equipment not working properly or deadlines that need to be met. Internal factors are conflicts that exist within the team such as working extra hours (flexibility) or different core values. The behavior of others within a team such as disrespect, judgmental comments or offensive language can lead to major conflicts.

There is neither bad nor good conflict, but how the team deals with it can be constructive or destructive. Destructive conflict is when teams constantly complain, have loud arguments amongst each other or behavior that causes hostility. This could be a very bad thing especially with the potential to disband the team permanently. Constructive conflict is when everyone voices their disagreements openly without reprisal. This type of conflict can make your team stronger. Teams use constructive conflict to their advantage will work well together because members of the team no matter what your group status is, whether you are an Executive or an Office clerk, you can voice your opinion without fearing losing your job. (Littlejohn & Domenici, 2001, pp. 94-103)

To resolve many conflict issues within a group any member will choose a style that will best suit the situation. Situations will change from day to day and so will the solutions depending on the team member facing them. There are five conflict styles to use when defusing a conflict situation. The first is avoidance where a team member may not want to help the team accomplish its goals. Other team members may act like there is nothing wrong and no conflict exists because they do not want to bring up a controversial issue. Avoidance is usually unproductive because it refused to address the issue and will not go away until it is addressed. It can be appropriate at times when you need to walk away to think the problem through to avoid blowing up and causing more conflict with in the group. Accommodating is another conflict style in which you give in to the other members wants and not worry about there own. This is not the best way to resolve your conflict because it will have you perceived as a member who has no voice in the group and just going along for the ride. Accommodating is a good approach when you understand that you were wrong or thought differently on the subject and to preserve the team’s harmony. Competitive conflict style is the opposite of the accommodating style in which the member is more concerned with their own needs verses the team’s needs. When used the wrong way this style will cause hostility within the team and reduce the members into winners and losers. Doing this will damage the team members relationships within the group. Competitive style is used best when the team is doing unethical or illegal activity. The compromising conflict style speaks for its self in which team members will compromise on goals to be achieved and all members will suffer some type of lose in exchange for something else. Compromising is not the best way to resolve conflict because everybody had to give up something to meet the team halfway and therefore the team is only partially satisfied.

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