A misunderstanding or any form of dispute may be coming from two individuals or from group differences. This situation is especially true in a team. More commonly though, team or group conflicts occur in a workplace situation. If the group or team members work together in resolving conflicts rationally and effectively, conflict management is a lot easier for similar situations in the future.
However, with individual differences and diversity among the individuals, some team conflicts require extra efforts to reach a negotiation for a common resolution. Being able to resolve any disagreement is the key objective in the nature of conflict, not showing off who is better and who is stronger.
How can team conflicts be managed well? The help of managers or those in the higher position will be effective since they will act as leaders and representatives for each party. Mediation is also an effective approach.
Consequently, team conflicts get easily resolved with the assistance of a mediator because this person acts as the facilitator or supervisor of the situation at hand. Though not the one to impose decisions, at least the group’s emotions are within control and most especially the way they deal with conflict through the help of the mediator.
Managing Diversity in a Team
Speaking of diversity in the team, we are talking about difference or dissimilarities in age, social status, gender, race, education level, and even personality. But these diversities must not be taken as hindrances and even in facing conflicts. In fact, a more efficient result will be rooted from a collaboration of efforts considering the individual differences.
Organizational teams need diversity to create a meaningful and interactive environment, breaking free from typical routines and dullness. Just imagine if every team member has the same personality and the same viewpoints. The organization will find it hard to become dynamic in its processes.
Diversities cause conflicts. But without conflicts, the team activities will create an uninteresting and dull atmosphere. There will also be slow pace of growth and development among the members. Being flexible towards your colleagues will help you easily modify yourself to such differences.
Conflict Management Strategies
There are different strategies or methods in dealing with team conflicts such as competition, collaboration, compromise, accommodation, and avoidance. These conflict styles by Thomas and Kilmann may be used in team conflicts depending on the nature and intensity of the conflict.
Competition is best used when an instant decision has to be made or when some group members are attempting to exploit the situation selfishly. It is usually manifested through factors like power, influence or persuasion, rank, and experience.
Collaboration aims at attempting to bring together the needs and interests of the individuals to attain the best resolution.
Compromise is useful when the intensity of the conflict is increasing, making it difficult for the team members to gain ground. This results in a half-baked or partial resolution.
Accommodation is like a selfless strategy in aiming to resolve the conflict because the some of the team members gives in to the other’s needs and interest. This is used when the issue has a more significant importance to the other members or when peace matters more than winning.
Lastly, avoidance is probably best used as a strategy for conflicts that seem impossible to resolve, when the issue is trivial, and when the team itself is not in the position to come up with a resolution.
Interest-Based Relational Approach
This approach is one of the theories of conflict resolution and it is based on the supposition that giving due respect to individual differences while keeping the people from being too focused on a fixed position will easily resolve a conflict.
In using this approach, an organization needs to follow a set of standards or ground rules. The first rule requires the groups to make sure that good relationships are the first and key priority. Team members should build mutual respect and treat each other courteously. The next rule is to keep the people and the problems separate. Focus on the viewpoints and not on the person. Third, pay attention to the interests of the people or the group. You will understand why the group is entrenched on such position.
A very important rule in this approach is keeping communication open and must be a two-way process. Listening and talking must be a reciprocal process. When one group member voices out ideas, the rest of the group should listen. Another guideline is to set out the “facts” or gathering information and necessary details and then establish a proposal. The last rule in this theory requires the team to explore the options together and must reach a common ground.