Running head: conflict resolution in teams

Thesis Statement Whenever teams are formed, conflicts emerge. Conflicts if managed well through utilization of conflict resolution strategies can benefit the organization a lot. Unless conflicts in teams are well managed, job performance goes down, as well as employee morale and motivation.

Introduction Organizations exist to accomplish certain goals and objectives, organizations are structured in a way that enhances job performance, communication and division labor. The success or failure of an organization can be influenced by several factors such as; technology, competitor activity as well as the business environment. However, of all the factors which influence the performance none is as important as the human resources. A well motivated team enhances job performance.

There is a need for management to form functional teams which aims at getting things done in the right way. Conflicts are bound to emerge in teams yet this does not mean that teams should be discouraged. When conflicts emerge, it is an opportunity for the teams to unify and produce that synergetic effect which makes teams important in an organization. To address the conflicts, organizations must have conflict resolution strategies in place to deal with the conflicts so that the organization benefits from the conflicts.

Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, (2005) notes types of conflicts as; lose-lose conflicts in which all conflicting parties give up their interests and position to gain for the sake of the team and the organization. Win-win conflicts refer to the kind of conflicts whereby, members of a team resolve conflicts in a manner which really benefits all the parties. A win-win conflict results into agreements and a stronger team where all members’ concerns are resolved.

The other types of conflicts are known as win-lose conflicts which happen in cases whereby for one member to gain, another has to lose. This is common in situations whereby members jostle for positions in the team and there is competitiveness. Mostly it is common in authoritative leadership.

Conflict Resolution involves several processes which are initiated by teams or individuals with an aim of resolving disputes which arise in the execution of the day to day activities of an organization (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005) further notes the common causes of group conflicts as differences resulting in conflict of opinions regarding an issue. This is common in teams or groups whereby team members are let free to contribute ideas and brainstorm issues with each member and therefore are free to voice their independent opinions on matters affecting a group.

Differences in convictions can also result into conflict. In a free environment where, members of a group are let to express themselves, differences are bound to arise depending on members’ convictions on issues. Differences in perspectives are also a common cause of conflicts, which can arise in teams.

All the above sources necessitate different strategies and approaches of conflict resolution. Usually there is no single fit-all conflict resolution. Therefore, choice of the most suitable conflict resolution strategy depends on the nature of conflict, suitability of the conflict resolution strategy depending on the nature of the conflict as well as company policies and procedures.

It is important for the managers to appreciate the importance of conflicts in establishment of healthy and functional teams. A healthy environment in a team results into the members opening up, which results to innovativeness, a wider pool of ideas, as well as diversification of solutions all of which lead to hybrid solutions to problems.

The importance of proper conflict management styles is underscored by the fact that, if not well resolved, conflicts can affect organizations negatively causing job performance to go down, morale of workers to diminish and eventually big losses to an organization.

According to (Cranny, Smith, & Stone, 1992), teams are formed in order to enhance performance. Conflicts therefore need to be resolved well so as to ensure that an organization utilizes all its resources and maximizes profits.  (Cranny, Smith, & Stone, 1992) suggests four types of conflict resolution strategies aimed at managing conflicts in teams, these include; Avoidance, collaboration, compromise, accommodation as well as authoritative command.

Other causes of conflicts in teams are communication based. If there is a barrier of communication in a team, frustrations file up, something which results to conflicts. The business environment has also been found to be a leading cause of conflicts in organizations. Lack of effective communication channels can lead to a buildup of tensions in employees which ultimately results into conflicts.

For an organization to meet its goals and objectives, it must put in place good conflict resolution strategies which can stand the test of interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group and organizational differences which often occur in business organizations (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). Therefore, organizations should encourage and set up a feed back system in which team members can give input and expect their concerns to be addressed in a timely and effective member.

Sources of communication in teams which results into conflict may include; language barriers, cultural differences, interpersonal relationships, assumptions, perceptional errors, as well as unhealthy competition for leadership positions in the team (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). Therefore, for conflict resolution to be effective, all communication concerns in the team must be addressed well.

Conflict resolution is only effective whereby; all efforts bear in mind the sources of conflicts in teams such as, unresolved conflicts, frustration in team members, which all reduce the effectiveness of teams (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). In terms of value, it is important to align team members’ values so that they are in agreements with organizational values. This ensures that employee behaviour is in conformity with organizational galls and objectives. This is important and where individual goals are in conflict with organizational goals the latter should take precedence.

Collaboration and problem solving is an effective way of handling conflicts in teams. Collaboration calls for the team members to brainstorm the source of conflicts so as to come up with effective solutions to the emerging problems. Members are allowed the freedom to decide on the best solution to the problem which is task oriented (Cranny, Smith, & Stone, 1992). Collaboration calls for a give and take attitude in which team members can compromise their opinions and ideas for the success of the team.

Collaboration allows room for all teams to work together in harmony with resolutions to conflict being suitable and in line with team’s interests. Collaboration as a conflict resolution strategy is ideal for teams in that, it leads to the participation of all team members in the decision making process (Schermerhon, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005).

Avoidance is another conflict resolution strategy, which is very central and important to teams. Avoidance as a strategy is based on the belief that some conflicts arise out of petty and minor differences which are to easy to resolve as long as employees are willing to sit down and act as groups for the common benefit of the organization (Tajfeh, & Turner, 1979).. Avoidance as a conflict resolution strategy is based on the understanding that, human beings are different and therefore differences are inevitable. Where conflicts are solved well, teams regain and strengthen trust in each other as well as trust in the organization.

Avoidance strategy therefore advocates for forgiveness in order to achieve slow healing of differences. Avoidance requires conflicting members of a team to engage in less physical contact in order to allow individual differences to heal (Spector, Fox & Van Katwyk, 1999). Therefore, avoidance of the source of conflict is an effective means of strengthening interpersonal relations in teams.

Authoritative command has been found to be an effective conflict resolution strategy. Authoritative command assumes that, team leaders can effectively solve the differences between employees or team members. This is an easy and faster way of resolving conflicts given the fact that, this conflict resolution strategy is the very fast and does not involve a lot of deliberations which may be time consuming. Given the fact that leaders have authority, arbitrating becomes easy hence speeding up the conflict resolution process.

Unlike the collaboration approach, authoritative command does not leave room for brainstorming of issues and decisions are left to the discretion of the team leader (Tajfeh, & Turner, 1979).

The other common conflict resolution strategy is accommodation method. Accommodation is especially useful in resolving conflicts resulting from individual differences. It involves team members giving up the possible gains in a conflict situation to accommodate opinions of other team members (Fox, & Spector, 1999). This method is useful in building effective teams based on mutual understanding. Finally, comprise is also a conflict resolution commonly used by teams to resolve conflicts.

Compromise as a conflict resolution strategy calls for the team members to settle for less, for the sake of the team and the organization. In a compromise situation a team member may accept to suffer in order arrive at solutions to challenges and for the sake of the survival of the team (Cranny, Smith, & Stone, 1992). Compromise is useful in situations, which threaten the very survival of an organization.

Conclusion Team building takes a lot of company resources and conflicts should not be left to bring down the team spirit. To ensure the survival of teams in organization calls for a good understanding of the nature, types, causes and resolution strategies. Whereby conflicts are resolved well, teams move from strength to strength and the organization achieves goals and objectives.

References Cranny, C, Smith, P. and Stone, E. (1992). Job satisfaction. New York: Lexington.

Fox, S and Spector, P. (1999). A model of work frustration-aggression. Journal of organization at Behavior. 20.

Spector, P., Fox, S., and Van Katwyk, P. (1999). The role of negative affectivity in employee reactions to jobs characteristics: Bias effect or substantive effect. Journal of occupational and organizational Psychology, 72.

Schermerhon, S., Hunt, J., and Osborn, R (2005). Organizational behavior. 9ed. John Wiley $ Sons Inc.

Tajfeh, H., and Turner, J. (1979). An intergroup conflict in W.G.Austin & S. Worchel (Eds). The social psychology of intergroup relation. Monterey, CA; Brooks/Cole.