Conflict and Negotiation
Conflict defines the feeling a party has when they are under the impression their sentiments are not shared or criticized negatively by others. Since the 1990s, people have argued that certain levels of conflict may be beneficial, since the reexamining of assumptions, creates energized workplace debates. This results in improved responsiveness to the external environment hence increased team cohesion. Task conflict arises from disagreements on the methodology of accomplishing tasks. This is in contrast to relationship conflict, which implies conflict arising from differences in personal values, concerns, personalities, and individual styles. In the present organizational setup, conflict may arise from structural or personal factors.
For a manager, various methods of conflict resolution at the workplace exist, with different outcomes, hence suitability. When problems are not entirely contrasting, collaboration is the best method to use. This is because trust exists between the parties, and sufficient time for sorting out the intricate matters is available. The only shortfall is that a party may exploit revealed information for personal gain. Force is best applied when parties are deeply convinced their stance is accurate and quick solutions are requisite. In case the method is applied, opposing parties should exploit the cooperation of their nemesis to settle the scores amicably. It should be noted that this method always impacts long-term relationships, depending on the outcome (McShane, Olekalns & Travaglione, 2006).
Avoidance always results in frustration since it does not provide solutions for existing issues. This method works best when the conflict is emotionally charged, and the resolution process will cost more than the forthcoming benefits. Conflict can also be resolved by accommodation. It should be noted that this option may yield imperfect solutions due to increased expectations. It is best utilized in case one of the constituent teams holds an advantage in the negotiation process (McShane et al., 2006). A party may employ this method as a strategy, especially when the issues at hand are more pertinent to their counterparts. Compromise is best realized when parties have equal abilities, lack trust, and hurried solutions are desired. It should be noted that the process may result in sub-optimal gains where mutual solutions are attainable. It is noteworthy that negotiation entails a process where divergent ideas are harmonized by redefining levels of interdependence. It requires a steady balance between cooperative and competitive character traits. It is influenced by several factors including the influence a party wields, restrictions on the negotiators, the physical setting, and the nature of the negotiation partner (McShane et al., 2006).
This refers to the process by which information is relayed and perceived by two or more persons. Effective communication implies the successful conveyance of the intended meaning to the recipient. Communication helps in monitoring employee well-being, coordinating work activities, and promoting organizational learning and decision making. Communication may be improved through encrypting and decrypting messages, provided both parties share similar cipher codes (McShane et al., 2006). Both parties should bear the motivation and capacity to correspond through the said mode. Analogous mental models of the communication context are also required in addition, to the sender’s experience in conveying the message theme.
The emergence of web-based communication has introduced a new dimension to the process. Blogs allow the creators to post their personal sentiments online, with the provision of reactions from readers and other respondents. Wikis enable collaborative creation and archiving of documents while electronic magazines facilitate the rapid distribution of news. The emergence of social networking sites has increased the quantity of information exchanged between persons. In the organizational setting, these inventions have increased the amount of information flowing in the corporate scene. It should be noted that social networking sites pose a threat to the integrity of company information due to the low-security measures established by the site (McShane et al., 2006).
Electronic communication forms the best medium of communication between the clientele and staff members. While it may be argued that some instances require personal contact for messages to be conveyed accurately, clients will provide information of higher accuracy over a communication medium as opposed to facing them in person. It should be noted that electronic communication has evolved into the most preferred for coordinating work since it accommodates higher volumes of data and reduces selective attention biases. Some of the notable shortcomings of the email include; reduced politeness and reverence, poor conveyance of emotion, and unsuitability for conveying ambiguities and complexities in data. It is noteworthy that social networks bear similar characteristics. The company can minimize the noise in the communication process by establishing multiple direct access channels between customer service executives and clients. The integrity of information is also preserved in the process.
Media richness is realized when the selected channel has the capacity to transmit multiple signals. The channel opted for should enable reception of timely feedback and allow customized messaging (McShane et al., 2006). Since this channel is used when the schedule is straight forward, richness should allow the transmission of complex symbols.
Teams and Groups
Teams comprise assemblies of two or more persons and are popular in organizational settings because they tend to outperform individuals. This is because they utilize talents better and are more innovative. They are more flexible and responsive to environmental changes hence form an effective method of democratizing organizations hence increasing motivation. The several types of teams in existence include; departmental teams, production leadership teams, self-directed teams, advisory teams, taskforce teams, virtual teams, communities of practice, and many more. Non-traditional teams include; self-directed teams, virtual teams, cross-cultural teams, and cross-functional teams. For a functional problem-solving team, constituent members require adequate training to enable them to identify and investigate problems before they can develop suggestions and present them to management (McShane et al., 2006). Later, these teams are to execute solutions made by the management and monitor the implementation process.
Informal groups are formed as a result of social interactions with voluntary members. Formal groups are formed in response to challenges within the firm. Non-traditional varieties of teams include self-directed teams, cross-functional teams, cross-cultural teams, and virtual teams, just to mention a few. Self-directed teams are the most common since they are formed at workplaces in order to execute different tasks (McShane et al., 2006).
Virtual teams use computer technology to unite physically dispersed members in a bid to realize similar goals. They are characterized by limited social contexts and their ability to overcome time and space constraints. Team members require the ability to adapt quickly to new technologies and superior team participation skills. They should be flexible, with high self-motivation. In addition to facilitating meetings and training team members, virtual team leaders are required to state explicitly all norms and expectations. They should be able to identify early signs of dysfunction and enforce corrective action. It is imperative for them to establish personal contact with members and partake of team meetings, in addition, to reviewing team progress at regular intervals (McShane et al., 2006). In spite of their small size as compared to other teams, virtual teams are suited for structured tasks due to their moderate interdependence. They boast of creative combinations of communication channels, which ensure proper communication and cross-cultural skills among the members.
The success of a team is quantified by a collection of issues, including low interdependence with other teams and high interdependence within the team. They should also have the autonomy to synchronize their work schedule in addition, to bearing responsibility for their work process. Some of the most common challenges they face include cultural differences among team members, which makes it hard to enforce several factors in certain cultures (McShane et al., 2006). Employee training is always exorbitant, and complications brought about by trade unions are often unpredictable. Virtual teams employ computer technology to network people in various locations into a pool, in a bid to realize an established goal. Members should have quick adaptability to new technologies and flexibility for changing assignment varieties. Self-motivation is a necessity.
Homogeneous groups consist of comparable persons with familiar traits, including age, gender, education level, and many more. They share cultural backgrounds and poses related abilities and skills. On the other hand, heterogeneous groups consist of people with dissimilar values, with respect to the above-cited examples. Homogeneous teams record faster team development rates and perform better on cooperative tasks. They have better coordination hence highly satisfied team members. This guarantees that lesser conflicts will arise in the course of duty. Heterogeneous teams take a longer time to develop, but provide better solutions for compound problems, due to the abundance of creativity in the team. They have high-turnover rates as compared to homogeneous teams (McShane et al., 2006).
At times, teams may experience social loafing when persons expend diminished endeavors during collective tasks, as opposed to working individually. It comes about after employees are subjected to routine uninteresting tasks of low significance, hence low collective value (McShane et al., 2006). It can be minimized by enhancing performance visibility by, creating lesser teams, evaluating individual performance, and specializing tasks. Increasing employee motivation by enhancing responsibilities allocated, opting for motivated employees, and instituting sanctions may also bear significance.
Cohesiveness refers to the magnitude of desirability felt towards the team by constituents, and their willingness to abide by the established regulations. Cohesiveness evokes the desire to remain in the team by creating strong interpersonal bonds. Conflicts can be resolved effectively due to the willingness to share information with team members (McShane et al., 2006).
In conclusion, managers need to reign in an unproductive team and group members in order to guarantee maximized output. Some of the methods they can apply include the introduction of punishments or rewards in a bid to hearten or chastise for lofty results. Alternatively, they may consult the section leaders and prevail upon them to influence the attitude currently held by their members. In addition, managers may initiate functional conflicts hence healthy competition among the employees with the aim of increasing productivity. Ultimately, the managerial staff may decide to restructure the entire team at their discretion. It should be noted that this may be slower at achieving the desired result.
McShane, S. Olekalns, M. & Travaglione., T 2010. Organizational Behavior: on the Pacific Rim, 3rd ed, New York: McGraw-Hill.