Assignment 1: Discussion
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Do the following when responding to your peers:
- Read your peers’ answers.
- Provide substantive comments by
- contributing new, relevant information from course readings, Web sites, or other sources;
- building on the remarks or questions of others; or
- sharing practical examples of key concepts from your professional or personal experiences
- Respond to feedback on your posting and provide feedback to other students on their ideas.
- Make sure your writing
- is clear, concise, and organized;
- demonstrates ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; and
- displays accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Assignment 1: Discussion
- Identify the causes of excessive conflict. When describing how excessive conflict can arise, please give an example a team or a group you have worked with that has fallen victim to the causes of conflict you identify in the discussion question.
- Explain the potential negative outcomes of unhealthy agreements and how you can avoid unhealthy agreements.
Module 5 Overview
Teams are built with the intention of reaching common goals. In this module, you will continue to explore team-building strategies and analyze factors that hinder progress.
You will explore various challenges of team building such as lack of communication, unhealthy agreements, and excessive conflict. You can lead your team to the highest levels of performance by building healthy communication channels and working relationships. In this module, you will explore communication issues within an organization. You will examine steps leaders can take to ensure the adopted communication improvement or building strategies do not diminish the efforts toward building an effective team.
Furthermore, you will identify and analyze the debilitating impact of unhealthy agreement including the Abilene Paradox and Groupthink on team building. Finally, you will examine issues related to excessive team conflicts. Through this exploration and examination, you will view the steps to uncover the causes of conflict and the potential strategies for managing them.
Lack of Communication
Communication plays a major role in building strong and productive teams. The challenges of communication include a lack of communication and struggles with inappropriate interpersonal communications.
In the textbook Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance, the authors discuss the issue of “over communication.” Team members who over communicate feel the need to voice their thoughts or ideas excessively to stimulate their own thinking. Vociferous and garrulous team members may not have any malicious intentions, but they do not allow other members to voice their opinions or enrich the conversation with additional perspectives. Furthermore, if the communication is dominated by one member, the other team members do not have the chance to verbalize their thoughts and ideas.
One way to solve this problem is by establishing strict communication guidelines or protocols for the team. Nowadays, organizations have established mechanisms for communication and rules for utilizing these mechanisms. For example, many businesses now have rules for instant messaging. Questions arising while implementing these mechanisms include: what types of information should be communicated through instant message? When should you use e-mail? If a person is frustrated with a fellow teammate, should he or she voice the feeling through instant message, e-mail, or a face-to-face meeting? Teams have to grapple with these decisions.
Team leaders have to take necessary steps to define these parameters and build appropriate communication channels to aid the team building process.
Unhealthy agreement happens when team members are unwilling or unable to disagree with one another and subsequently learning is held in abeyance. Let’s learn more about two examples of unhealthy agreement—Abilene Paradox and Groupthink.
Abilene Paradox: This paradox refers to a story where a group is traveling to Abilene. After reaching the destination, they discover no one really wanted to go to Abilene. All the members made the trip reluctantly, because no one spoke up. The Abilene Paradox can exist in organizations. For example, teams may work hard to attain some goal, only to find out later that either the team had emotionally abandoned the goal or the strategy chosen for goal attainment was no longer favored by team members. By refusing to voice their concerns, teams spend time and energy focusing on areas which are distant from their preferred goals.
Groupthink: William H. Whyte introduced the concept of Groupthink in the 1950s. This phenomenon occurs when members of a group avoid promoting ideas or viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking of the group. The group members consider this strategy as an effective means of avoiding conflict and maintaining the group’s balance. Groupthink prevents people from making potentially innovative suggestions or expressing ideas because they want the group to maintain a consistent or comfortable perspective.
Both the Abilene Paradox and Groupthink have the potential to diminish group output and creativity. You may even argue unhealthy agreement is more dangerous than excessive conflict. Excessive conflict is typically volatile and stands out in the group; thus requiring a response. Unhealthy agreement can go on for years and continue to diminish both the group’s output and team members’ individual creativity.
Now, take a moment to search for a presentation regarding the benefits of healthy conflict.
Power Dynamics and Social Influence
Power dynamic and social influence may have the ability to change a planned course of action due to the interactions between team members. Team dynamics are those unconscious forces that influence the direction of team’s behavior and performance. Therefore, social influence can be seen through team’s behavior in the processes of compliance, leadership, socialization, etc. It can usually affect a person’s behavior, thoughts, or feelings. Team dynamics can have an effect on performance, especially in areas such as task enjoyment, job satisfaction, sense of empowerment, and decisions to remain on jobs. Power dynamics and social influence can be very important attributes in the productivity and effectiveness of teams because team members are dependent on each other for success.
Conformity: This often exists because of a sense of wanting to belong. Conformity can be a result of social influence as social influence is a powerful tool that can affect the way people believe and behave. Conformity does not necessarily mean the team will have greater productivity. Teams will often use peer pressure to encourage members to conform and several members will go along with it even though they may feel that it might be wrong. However, it is important to understand that conformity can be either positive or negative. When team members conform for the effectiveness of the team, it can generate cohesiveness.
Power bases: A power base can exist because of two factors. There can be a power base because of personal power or position power. A team member’s power can be based upon his personality or characteristics while position power is based upon an individual’s position within the team or organization. Teams are apt to be more effective when they rely on personal power since personal power can often be based upon expertise and members are more apt to be responsive to this than to threats.
Interdependence: Teams that share interdependence in their culture are usually high in performance. These types of teams have members that rely on each other to do their part of the task. Interdependence can really assist teams in generating synergy through collaboration. These types of team have high levels of information sharing and high team cohesiveness. Interdependence in teams can actually influence their performance and increase productivity.
As you discuss potential challenges to team building, you must also evaluate the strategies to combat excessive conflict. As a leader, you must consider causes of conflict and discuss potential strategies to diagnose and manage conflict.
Conflict has existed in our tribes or groups throughout the history of humankind. Interestingly, the causes of conflict have not changed a great deal despite the evolution of human beings. There has always been a sacred bond between the leader and the led. The leader agrees to accept the responsibility of creating a culture promoting success. The led agree to trust the leader in leading them to realize their professional goals and maintain personal well-being.
In present times, members of a group or team must trust the leader, and assume their individual and professional well-being will be considered as the leader navigates the direction of the group. When this sacred trust is violated, conflict ensues. When the led have expectations of the leader and those expectations are not met, fear and conflict arise. Suddenly, uncertainty enters the equation and the led question their personal wisdom of following the leader. The led can also feel violated about their relationship with the leader.
Sometimes, a leader may feel let down by the behavior of the led, making him or her question many aspects of the relationship. To avoid conflict in team building, it is essential for both the leader and the led to work diligently to avoid violation of agreed upon expectations. To reduce instances of violation, it is important for the leader and the led to communicate mutual expectations and perceptions, which guide actions of the group and the leader. Taking steps in this direction will ultimately lead to goal attainment and efficient conflict management.
The following are areas of consideration when dealing with conflicts:
Personality: The differences in personalities can often cause conflict and one of the problems with the existence of conflict is that it can have a negative effect on productivity. Conflict drains energy and prevents the team from maximizing its efforts. Therefore, when conflict exists in a team the whole team suffers.
Diversity: Different perspectives can be introduced as a result of the differences among team members, such as differences in levels of experience, education, ability, and skills. Members can also become irritated with other team members that may have differences in personalities. Even the most diverse team will be unable to develop innovative activities and foster creativity when its members sense that diversity is not welcomed.
Goal confusion: Teams can have conflict because of disagreements over task-related issues and goals. Ambiguous goals can also cause confusion and conflict and one of the factors that initiate this confusion is that goals and situations often change over times. Common purpose vision, mission, and goals that all members understand can help to reduce goal confusion.
Managing Team Conflict
Managing team conflict is essential to the success of the team. Being able to manage conflict can have a direct positive effect on team cohesion. Conflict can exist when a team member is trying to do what is best for the individual as oppose to what is best for the team. All too often conflict is suppressed which can be very damaging over the long run because it does not go away.
Prepare and Facilitate: The scope and agenda for dealing with conflict has to be made clear to all team members along with the ground rules as to how activities and projects will be approached. In preparing and facilitating the resolution of conflict, a leader must know what to ask of the team and how to ask for support/compliance, in order for the resolution to be successful.
Module 5 Summary
Through this module’s online lectures and assigned reading, you discussed issues related to team building and the challenges leaders have to face to prevent some potentially negative influences on team building. You learned how unhealthy agreement may be more harmful than excessive conflict. Just as excessive conflict can be devastating to attempts of team building, it is also quite dangerous for a group or team to have a degree of unhealthy agreement.
Here are the key points you covered in this module:
- The communication styles of the leader and the team can significantly impact team building. Negative traits such as over communication can diminish team-building efforts. Team members who talk excessively prevent other members from voicing their opinions and enriching the conversation with additional perspectives. Leaders should establish strict communication protocols to resolve this problem.
- Organizations must guard against two types of unhealthy agreement: Abilene Paradox and Groupthink. A team suffering from Abilene Paradox is unwilling to share its concerns with the other members. Therefore, members spend time and energy focusing on areas which are distant from their preferred goals. The Groupthink phenomenon occurs when members of a group avoid promoting ideas or viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking of the group.
- Leaders must deal with the debilitating impact of excessive conflict. There can be varied causes of excessive conflict and leaders have to use intelligent strategies to successfully manage this dynamic. Conflict management is an important component to the success team cohesiveness.
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