Conflict management

1.   Introduction

This paper will describe methods for developing a team that are creative and innovative.  This will particularly describe how to develop skills for both the team members and the leaders that will allow both incorporate into newly formed teams and become effective members as quick and as efficient as possible.

To accomplish the purpose of this paper, this paper will discuss first what characterizes productive teams that will produced effective and efficient teams members and in relation this paper will also mentioned some of the relevant causes of failure to have productive teams.  This will be followed in how to form a team which will be involved choosing the members and leaders, orienting said members, training such members and removing members in certain cases.

2. Analysis  and Discussion

2. 1  What characterizes productive teams?

Just like anything that will require something to produce the desired effect, there are characteristics of productive teams that will produce effective and efficient members.  Knowledge of these characteristics will lead to better discussion of the other points of this paper. First, productive teams often display team goals are as important as individual goals.

This means that the members are capable also of recognizing when a personal agenda is interfering with the team’s direction thus each member will see that the achievement of the team’s goals will lead to achievement of separate goals of each individual in a group. Each believes in the strength of working together.

The team knows and understands the goal and it is committed to achieving the same and this would have the effect of making everyone willing to shift responsibilities if only the team’s goal is to be attained (Thomas,2001).  The team climate in the group could be characterized as comfortable and informal where people feel empowered and individual competitiveness is subordinated or made even inappropriate.

Communication is open and  spontaneous and the same is shared among all members regardless of  diversity of opinions and ideas are encouraged (Thomas,2001).   In fact the latter is encouraged since the members since  diversity of the group prospers more under the circumstances where  everybody will necessarily  have  a share that will be important for the team.

Another characteristic of a productive team is the presence of respect where open-mindedness and collaboration are high while members seek win/win solutions and build on each others’ ideas (Thomas,2001).  This is important s although there is a leader, since a member’s contribution is acknowledged on the table and if they have to discuss before accepting, the members would be wiling the respect the difference in opinions of each member.

Because of this open communication, trust replaces fear, and people feel comfortable in taking risks since they work on the assumption that each is given  the freedom to implement what was agreed by the group as will lead to accomplishment of the team’s goal (Thomas,2001).

In case there are conflicts and differences of opinion, the same would be considered as opportunities to explore new ideas with the emphasis on finding common ground. The spirit of working together is just felt by each member and that the accomplishment of group will be the accomplishment of each member as each will benefit in a way that is understood by each member.

The third characteristic is that the team works on improving itself by constantly examining its procedures, processes and practices, and experimenting with change.  This would have the effect of having to rotate leadership in order to allow every to have the chance to know more the role and responsibility in certain situation and would make the members more mature and responsible in the process (Thomas,2001).

The fourth characteristic is the presence of  a democratic framework being applied in the team subject to certain conditions that may be laid down by the higher management in an organization. In relation to this, decisions are made by consensus and the same will have the acceptance and support of members and this would make the implementation easier.

2.2 What causes of team failure

In relation to what characterizes productive teams, it is relevant to discuss also on what to avoid as causes of failure. Some of the most common reasons in failing to have productive team are hereby discussed.    First, the structure of the team is incompatible with the hierarchical organizational structure. Organizing a team requires belief in group efforts.  If the organization operates under an organizational structure that is highly hierarchical, organizing a team that requires a flat type of relationship may immediately raise some concerns  on whether management is serious about the team creation. Thus management must really be serious in the need to have the team accomplished its goal by empowering the same.

Another cause of failure is when the team lacks the lacks the visible support and commitment from top management. This means that what is being done is a just for show and definitely it will end in a failure as the teams would be powerless to achieve its goals and target.  Another cause of failure is when members lack self-discipline and do not want to take responsibility for their own behavior and actions.  This means that team members do not believe in what each can do for the group and they are type that would rather follow an order and initiate what is beneficial to the group. Another factor is the team has too many members and lacks the strong structure necessary to deal with a large team.

Although working together in a team would produces better output than working individually, a certain point could be reached in terms of number that will lack the proper coordination and necessarily will become misguided or unguided to attain a targeted purpose.  Another cause is the team has experienced poor leadership within and/or outside the team.  This experience of inconsistency may have played some problems in the minds of the members of the team already that would bother each as to behave in the same manner.

2.3. What are the basics of a functioning team?

After knowing the requirements or characteristics of successful or productive and knowing those things that must be avoided, this paper is now ready  to form a team.   The first step in forming a team is of course to define the team’s goals  based on the subject or problem to be examined.  It is necessary to identify expected deadline and the interim steps, and to specify the key questions to be answered.

This would keep the team guided since the goal would control the success of the team.  In certain cases, the team may be allowed to define its own goal but the same must be consistent with what management really wants to happen.   Theoretically,  nothing wrong could be attributed with this latter approach, but it could mean a longer time to get on specific tasks compared when the said goals had been done already by a steering committee initially.

To get started with team building, the  key activities will now be described where  the team is expected to undertake, including specific objectives to be achieved or strategies, recommendations, or analyses to be performed.  This would normally require the preparation of work plan, charts , reports, and presentations if necessary to make the teams properly guided in the process of achieve objectives on a per stage basis.

This would be followed by identifying the results expected of the team, including the team adviser, subject-matter expert or the one who knows the thing more than the other members and the  single point of contact of the members who will keep them aware of what is happening and what has been accomplished so that they may be guided properly.

This would be followed by identifying the type of frequency of reporting and the communication that would be expected from the team, including the details on who should receive copies of team minutes and any interim reports.

There is also the need to identify any non-negotiable requirements of rules of the team.  It in this part where compliance is a requirement since this would serve the members to avoid the pitfalls or the critical causes that could cause it to fail as described earlier.  The members are expected to adhere  and to be aware on these  rules to be properly guided.

Afterward, it is now possible to  identify the skills and abilities necessary for the team to accomplish its tasks. This would mean breaking the jobs to what will fit each member chosen for the team after considering the special skills and talents of each.

This will be followed by the need to identify the authority level of the team.  This refers to making known what may or may not be made as decisions with descriptions of limitations of the power given.  In relation to this, member’s roles and responsibilities can now be discussed within the team.  During team meeting in forming the team and while the team functions, there is a need to have facilitator from the team members.

2.4 How to determining the level of authority?

As the team is created to perform a specific task to deal with a specific issue, it is a requirement to orient clearly the members about the level of authority by defining the limits on cases where autonomous decisions are possible.  The team could choose from several authority options.  One option is to look into the problem and provide all the details while allowing others to decide what to do. This may mean identifying all the possible alternatives including the pros and cons of each and have others to decide which to select. This could be followed by a recommendation of a course of action for others’ approval.

Another authority option is to report what the team intends to do to management which requires management approval before proceeding with the decision. This however may remove the unique characteristic of team to have the required autonomy to make decisions along the way.

Another option is just for the team to report what the team intends to do and doing it in unless told not to by management. This would appear to be desirable as way to giving trust to the team to accomplish its purpose.

2.5  How to establish team membership?

Choosing the right people for the team may sometime be the more critical part as it is these people who will determine the success since they will be the one to make decisions.  A team can comprise a complete working unit as in the case functional teams or can include people from throughout the organization, including hourly staff and top management.  Given a choice if possible, seeking qualified volunteers is preferable than arbitrarily putting people in the team who may lack the needed commitment to the team process. The attitude to those compelled to join will undermine the team’s progress (Salas, Bowers and Edens, 2001).

To include and exclude members is a critical issue that must be done especially in the context of prospective members on team beginning to flaunt their special status while possibly creating employees not on teams to be left behind to do the real work that could generate resentment.  Fairness must be exercised as not to create unnecessary problem in the organization and guide  that the team will just have to attain some specific objectives  for the meantime (Salas, Bowers and Edens, 2001).

2.6 How to determine the optimal team size?

The optimal size will depend on the goals to be accomplished, the complexity of the tasks and kind of skills required for the job.   A small team of about 7 to 13 members including the leader will be most effective if team’s goals and tasks are complex ones and where considerable skills are required.  If tasks take are redundant, the team size can be adjusted to something sufficiently large to provide something meaningful to manage.  It the task requires a lot of technological know-how, the team size should be large enough to include people and do other management jobs as in the case of  a cross-functional team.  Generally, the team size must be based on how willing members are to help the team function smoothly  (Salas, Bowers and Edens, 2001).

2.7   How orient new members and remove some members.

Orientation of new members should be done by the team, not by the new member.   To shorten the start up time for a new member, the latter must be properly oriented to the team, its members, and its work to date.  Orientation should occur within not longer than one month from decision to include the member in the team. A training specific to the team should be done by reviewing the history and purpose in forming the team and all pertinent information should be made with a discussion of the roles and responsibilities agreed to by the team (Rosen, A. 2004).

A time will come when there is a need to remove a member from the team which the team must handle with care and as effectively as possible (Veilleux, and Petro, 1988). This is done only when the team has determined that a team member is not working effectively where a procedure that basically follows a democratic process should be allowed and management’s approval.

 3. Conclusion

This paper has demonstrated how to create effective and efficient teams that would accomplish the purpose for which the team was formed. Indeed aside from accomplishing the team objectives,  there are other benefits that could derive from working through teams. This include among others, having a highly motivated environment, better work climate, shared ownership and responsibility for tasks and faster response to technological change.

However, as a precaution there are some drawbacks that must be remembered such as its being  time consuming and sometimes not leaving enough time for regular work for  employees who would become team members.   The critical thing in making use of a team is in accomplishing the purpose and the same must be dissolved upon completion and accomplishment of the said purpose and bring back the members to their regular jobs.

References:

Rosen, A. (2004) Effective IT Project Management: Using Teams to Get Projects Completed on Time and Under Budget, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn

Salas, E.  Bowers,  C and Edens, E.  (2001), Improving teamwork in organizations: applications of resource management training, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Thomas,S. (2001), Successfully Managing Change in Organizations: A User's Guide, Industrial Press Inc.

Veilleux, R. and Petro, L. (1988), Tool and Manufacturing Engineers Handbook: Manufacturing Management : A Reference Book for Manufacturing Engineers, Managers, and Technicians, SME