Conflict is bound to occur in an organization or a group due to disparities in beliefs and values. Tubbs (2012) explains that a conflict is a desirable occurrence in a group since it eliminates the likelihood of groupthink and propels social learning. In the absence of conflict, the relationships, behaviors, and attitudes will remain the same way throughout, thus, discouraging growth. In an organizational setting, conflict is essential in building team cohesiveness and reveal problems that require intervention. It is, however, up to a group to use conflict destructively or constructively. This paper uses workplace examples to discuss the issue in a group setting at the workplace.
A Scenario of Conflict of Feelings in a Group at the Workplace
While I was working at a Technology firm during the summer holiday, I witnessed a workplace scenario whereby a team of workers conflicted over the accomplishment of a project. The group of four members was assigned a project that required them to undertake background research on the available Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in the market. Notably, the project manager had given them only two weeks to conduct the study and submit a comprehensive report. Unfortunately, the team members could not agree on the best approach despite receiving some tips and guidance from the supervisor. A contributing factor to this problem was the fact that the project manager picked the four members from different departments to minimize incidences of groupthink and promote creativity as well as diverse opinions.
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It was, however, the start of a series of conflict as members failed to understand each other and work together. One of the workers, Linda, was termed as lazy while others were viewed as aggressive. They stated that Linda could not accomplish even the most straightforward task, thus, dragging everyone behind. Even the aggressive members had weaknesses. In particular, Joe was considered insensitive to other people’s feelings which made him cross path with many of his team members. These differences caused the group to start the assignment late, conduct poor research due to limited time, and submit an unfinished report to their manager. The leader ordered the team to repeat the research since he was disappointed with their work.
The team members experienced a conflict of feeling since they had different personalities. These individuals could not understand each other and work as a team since they were sourced from various departments. Additionally, these workers did not have sufficient time to understand each other’s traits and find ways of working together without hurting their feelings.
Blake and Mouton’s Conflict Grid
This group exhibited two styles of conflict. At the beginning of the project, the members adopted the 1, 1 (avoidance) and 1, 9 (accommodation) styles of conflict. According to Tubbs (2012), a group can avoid conflict by maintaining neutrality. In this case, the four team members tried to maintain neutrality so that they could accomplish their goal. As the days progressed and the situation worsened, the members shifted from avoidance to accommodation. They were not willing to let the manager know that they had issues within the group since they needed to complete the project. However, the situation became uncontained as the deadline approached yet they had not accomplished a lot of tasks. At this point, the 9, 1 approach, also known as “competing” was effected. Tubbs (2012) explains that this method is even worse than compromise since people attack each other verbally, use any tactic to have their way, and cause an absolute stalemate on work progress. It was during the second week that members started quarreling and made attempts to work alone. The aggressive members eventually reported the case to the manager stating that they needed change since there was little progress due to frequent conflicts.
Recommendation for Conflict Resolution
The team can only achieve results while at the same time ensure that every member is comfortable and feels appreciated through collaboration. Tubbs (2012) states that the collaborative style allows members to address any issue that arises without blaming anyone. Additionally, the group avoids uttering harsh words that may hurt the feelings of others, thus, lowering the morale of the team to work in unity. An effective team should comprise of committed members who are willing to maximize success not only for themselves but also for others (Johnson & Johnson, 2006). Therefore, the four members could have identified the source of conflict as soon as they observed, and worked towards addressing the issue without focusing excessively on the weaknesses of each member by setting team norms. This strategy could help the team to put their differences aside and work together towards the achievement of their goal.
The collaborative approach reflects the biblical principles of conflict resolution which emphasize on the need for leaders to provide hope and encouragement for their team as well as ensure that every individual is responsible. The Bible requires leaders to help the weak, encourage the meek, be patient with everyone, and warn the idle. This approach rekindles hope and motivates the group to work diligently (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15) (The Bible: NKJV, 1982). Notably, the Bible teaches Christians to be responsible for their actions by understanding that every decision its consequences.
Conclusively, conflict resolution in a group requires teamwork. The members should admit a problem exists, identify its roots, and find possible solutions without blaming or victimizing any person. The team should also be able to establish norms that define how members relate to each other and the role and responsibility of each member in ensuring that they meet the set targets within time.
Johnson, D. & Johnson, F. (2006). Joining together: Group theory and group skills (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson A & B.
The Bible: The New King James Version (NKJV). (1982). The Bible. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Tubbs, S. L. (2012). A systems approach to small group interaction (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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