Team Cohesiveness, Diversity, and Conflict Management

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Introduction

The Green Team is having differences, and this is derailing its productivity. However, if all the team members have similar levels of education, professions, and experiences, the team would develop solutions without comprehensive probing. For the differences between members to produce positive value, cohesion must be nurtured. This paper is about the strategies which the Green Team can implement to produce the kinds of forces that pull the members closer together and thereby enable them to realize their common goal in time.

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Problems with the Formation of the Green Team

When a diverse group of individuals forms a team, relationship issues and communication challenges could arise (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, pp. 243-244). For the Green Team, these issues and challenges have been triggered by a poor working environment and lack of leadership. The representatives based in the Czech Republic and India complain that their time preferences are not taken into account, and this undermines the virtual working environment. The Green Team seems purposeless mainly because strong and decisive leadership is lacking. Consequently, the team morale has diminished, and the members in South Africa have opted to work with other parties who are not part of the Green Team. The prospects of establishing an environment where cooperation can thrive are minimal.

The poor working environment is causing frustration and stress, and members in various locations have reverted to their methods of working. They see their old working arrangements as having a higher probability of success than they can achieve with the entire team. There are no indications of attempts to compromise, and the fact that the objectives were not clearly explained in advance makes striking a balance difficult. There is evidence of inadequate preparation before the team formation.

Mistake Made by the Executive and the Solution

The executive is late in rallying the Green Team around a shared sense of purpose. The proposed reward system might reawaken the eagerness to come up with resource-saving ideas within the stipulated period. Teams work exceptionally well when the members are intrinsically motivated (Norman, 2017, p. 27). Some of the members may not treasure the cash price as they treasure the realization of the environmental sustainability goal. Therefore, the Green Team’s leader must focus on other factors besides the promised reward.

Transparent structures facilitate the understanding of what particular individuals are expected to do. This is not the case with the Green Team since specific roles are lacking. That being so, the process of distributing and linking tasks together cannot be completed. Had the executives appointed an interim leadership, duties, and responsibilities could have been determined with relative ease (Schubert and Tavassoli, 2020, p. 272). The leadership would have also cultivated trust amongst the members, particularly if they proved to be focused on the team’s success.

Team identity is absent, and it is the role of the leader to encourage the members to embrace mutual accountability. This would enhance attendance in meetings as well as the level of participation by the representatives. The team leader must distribute the tasks fairly. If some of the members get overworked, they may get stressed up. On the same note, those with little work to do may become bored and/or even feel underestimated (Kim, 2017, p. 1257). As a result, their capacity to contribute could be impeded, and hence weaken the entire team’s productivity.

Factors Influencing Team Cohesiveness

Cohesiveness refers to the level of closeness between the members of the team. It is demonstrated by how strongly the members desire to stick with the group and commit to seeing it realize its objectives. The compatibility of goals that the individuals have is the most significant influence of team cohesiveness (Espey, 2018, pp. 8-9). High compatibility makes the alignment between the individuals’ and team’s goals possible, and it strengthens the members’ shared aspiration to continue working together.

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In cohesive teams, the members tend to have strong social and emotional bonds. It is these bonds that prompt them to carry on with their efforts to achieve the shared aims. This is why Excel Pro ought to have selected people with similar values and attitudes. Such individuals would most probably hold compatible beliefs, opinions, and morals; and hence their codes of conduct would correspond (Schubert and Tavassoli, 2020, p. 280). The size of the group matters too, and this is because an expanded group of people further increases the diversity of values and attitudes. A small team is easier to manage than a large team (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, p. 250). With 18 members though, the Green Team is of appropriate size.

Plan for Meetings

The amount of time that the members spend together is of the essence. The observed closeness between the members increases proportionally with every extra hour they spend together. Nonetheless, meetings should not exceed 10% of the number of work hours in a week. Otherwise, they may prevent the members from completing their duties in time (Norman, 2017, p. 28). Because that translates into 4 hours, the Green Team should settle on 3 meetings a week, with each lasting up to an hour.

Considering that the representatives from the Czech Republic and India have complained of timings, it is imperative to plan meetings in time and to avoid last-minute rescheduling. The agenda must be consistent and concise, and should always be agreed upon at least 6 hours in advance. Taking these measures would help the team to keep time, and also avoid sidebar conversations once the meeting has ended.

The Executive’s Support for Team Development

Ordinarily, the behavior of the executive tends to influence the team’s cohesiveness. By offering cash rewards, for instance, the Excel Pro’s executive is aiming at facilitating solidarity. Cohesiveness may, nevertheless, be undermined if the management initiates close relations with the representatives based at the headquarters. Indeed, such concerns may have prompted the stakeholders from the Czech Republic and India to perceive favoritism. The executive should, therefore, allow the members to bond with minimal interference (Schubert and Tavassoli, 2020, p. 280). The general atmosphere of the team should be one where the members feel free of undue external compulsion.

Members of cohesive teams tend to be more satisfied and complain of tension and anxiety less often than those of a discordant team. They are encouraged to participate in joint activities, and therefore, there is a significant improvement in decision-making processes. The individuals are always looking forward to pursuing new goals after the original ones have been fulfilled (Kim, 2017, p. 1268). This underscores the need for the Green Team to cultivate cohesion. However, the members must always maintain a professional distance, and this is because excessive closeness could limit the free expression of the individuals.

Employee Motivation and Conflict Resolution

Incentives are influential in motivating and engaging the team members. They could also lead to unintended consequences, such as triggering resentment and rivalry. Nonetheless, some measures could be taken to ensure that incentives serve their rightful purpose and help the team to remain focused on the goals (Espey, 2018, p. 18). The points plan is a form of peer review, and it can facilitate the kind of information needed to help the team improve.

The points plan may enable the Green Team to enhance its productivity. For this to happen though, it should be carefully structured and the identified performance gaps must be addressed in time. This kind of reward system avoids the risk of having the level of employees’ performance being determined by one individual (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, p. 248). Some of the team members may, however, become anxious about hurting the feelings of their peers (Schaffer and Manegold, 2018, p. 223). In case such worries become prevalent, the points plan should be dropped as it might discourage team cohesion.

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The Role of the Management in Conflict Resolution

Excel Pro’s management must appreciate that conflicts do occur, and opposing viewpoints are important for they bring forth new thoughts about completing the work at hand. Conflicts that are brought to the attention of the executive, nonetheless, tend to have become harmful (Norman, 2017, pp. 28-29). Therefore, they must be discussed and resolved on a timely basis. Excel Pro’s management must start by getting the whole story, and this necessitates the consideration of the perspectives of everyone involved.

There should be a virtual training session with an authoritative facilitator. The facilitator should brief the team on how to identify conflicts when they occur. The leader has the responsibility of interacting with those most aggrieved, and such a meeting can happen without the involvement of the entire team. If everyone is involved, there is the risk of having them pick sides (Schubert and Tavassoli, 2020, p. 275). In addition, the facilitator should train the members on how to make compromises without attempting to compel an individual member or certain representatives to change their views in the absence of reciprocity.

Conflict Resolution Using the Thomas-Kilmann Model

Individuals have natural inclinations to resolve conflicts, and two predominant dimensions of these orientations are the foundations of the Thomas-Kilmann Model. How conflicts are resolved depends on the team members’ levels of cooperativeness and assertiveness (Schaffer and Manegold, 2018, p. 228). Cooperativeness refers to the extent one tries to satisfy the concerns of their peers, while assertiveness is the effort one is willing to employ in favor of their view.

Out of the two dimensions arise 5 modes of handling conflicts including avoiding, compromising, accommodating, and competing. Avoiding is where the team members sidestep the issue at hand. With compromising, the stakeholders seek to arrive at a suitable settlement, where the concerns of everyone involved are satisfied only partially. Accommodation is where the concerns of others are satisfied at the expense of one party. Members compete when each has a goal to satisfy their private concerns irrespective of the aspirations of others (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, p. 248). None of these modes is suitable for the Green Team.

The most effective way of resolving conflicts and sustaining a team is collaboration. This is a win-win approach, and the goal is to satisfy the views of all individuals involved. Each of the members is persuaded to cooperate, while still being assertive. Nevertheless, a collaborative team may only be formed by individuals who share beliefs and are willing to work towards the realization of the common goals (Schaffer and Manegold, 2018, pp. 230-231). The Green Team must spend adequate time exploring what they look forward to accomplishing, and both individual and team goals must be set in line with the shared vision.

Types of Diversity at the Workplace

Diversity can be classified into 4 major dimensions including external, internal, world view, and organizational. External diversity includes the level of education, familial status, socioeconomic status, and experiences. These characteristics are learned and/or acquired, and an individual can control them. Internal diversity is influenced by factors such as age, race, gender, mental and physical abilities, and ethnicity. Organizational diversity is influenced by the job groups, departments, and the kind of work one does as a routine. World views are the issues people observe, experience, and feel (Norman, 2017, p. 27). This is why world views often refer to someone’s political inclination.

External diversity is influenced by the choices individuals have made in the past, and the decisions they make about their futures. For example, an individual can decide to refine their skills by taking refresher courses and seeking opportunities to acquire new experiences (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, p. 251). World views are easier to change than organizational workplace diversity. While organizational diversity is influenced by the management who has the authority to appoint, promote, and assign/reassign duties, an individual is free to change their beliefs about the world (Espey, 2018, p. 15). The understanding of the types of diversity, therefore, helps in determining what each member of the team can do in their endeavor to accommodate their peers.

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If the conflict has been determined to emanate from internal diversity, it means that the team members’ differences may not be resolved. Supposing the conflict is based on organizational diversity, the problem would be far beyond what the representatives can do to resolve it (Schaffer and Manegold, 2018, p. 225). It would necessitate the intervention of their superiors, and hence cause delays in realizing the team’s objectives. However, conflicts triggered by external and worldview diversity can be resolved with ease.

Advantages of a Diverse Team

While integration across a diverse team of representatives is difficult, there are several benefits of a diverse team. Diversity inspires creativity, and it also helps in sustaining innovation. Furthermore, the insights which come from such a team enhance the levels of productivity. Diversity is a good opportunity for professional as well as personal growth. Therefore, the representatives in the Green Team should embrace their roles and appreciate the fact that they represent the convergence of a diverse pool of talents.

Someone’s background influences their view of the world, and hence an international team inspires the colleagues to perceive the world and their workplace differently. The multiple personalities, voices, and perspectives are what bring about unusual but beneficial solutions. It is a significant boost to the problem-solving capacity of the team (Kim, 2017, p. 1263). If the Green Team embraces diversity, the resource-saving ideas aimed for will be within reach.

Diversity stimulates and nurtures curiosity, and hence individuals working in a diverse environment have the chance for learning and growth. It is a meaningful experience that does not only enables an individual to learn from others but to also dig deeper into their cultural background (Schaffer and Manegold, 2018, p. 223). For the benefits to be realized, diversity must be about embracing the uniqueness of others, and not focusing on how different the individual team members are.

Challenges Associated with Leading a Diverse Team

Among the most common challenges facing diverse teams include communication problems, numerous opinions, and inadequate time to consider all the views. Not all members of the Green Team may have English as their first language. Therefore, there may be miscommunication, which may heighten frustrations (Lauring and Villeseche, 2019, p. 246). The solution to this problem is to agree on the language that everyone can understand. Alternatively, Excel Pro should appoint bilingual individuals to such teams.

When there are numerous opinions, it becomes increasingly difficult to arrive at a consensus. Another challenge is that innovative solutions could remain obscured within the overabundance of irrelevant ideas (Schubert and Tavassoli, 2020, p. 281). The Green Team may fail to meet tight deadlines, and this is why a diverse team must set ground rules and have a clear scope. Irrelevant ideas should be dropped as soon as possible to focus on what can facilitate the achievement of the desired objectives.

Conclusion

The success of a team is primarily determined by the strategies taken by its members towards achieving cohesion. Individuals collaborate with ease where goals are clear and concise, and when everyone was adequately involved in devising them. It calls for collaboration rather than competition, or even avoidance like China’s representatives are doing. The team leader must embrace the role of building trust. In case conflicts arise, they must be resolved right away. The bottom line is to make everyone feel valued and to make them believe that the team is on the right route.

References List

Espey, M. (2018) ‘Diversity, effort, and cooperation in team-based learning’, The Journal of Economic Education, 49(1), pp. 8–21. Web.

Kim, M. (2017) ‘Effects of team diversity, transformational leadership, and perceived organizational support on team-learning behavior’, Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 45(8), pp. 1255–1270. Web.

Lauring, J. and Villesèche, F. (2019) ‘The performance of gender diverse teams: What is the relation between diversity attitudes and degree of diversity?’, European Management Review, 16(2), pp. 243–254. Web.

Norman, D. (2017) ‘Design, business models, and human-technology teamwork’, Research Technology Management, 60(1), pp. 26–29. Web.

Schaffer, B.S. and Manegold, J.G. (2018) ‘Investigating antecedents of task commitment and task attraction in service learning team projects’, Journal of Education for Business, 93(5), pp. 222–232. Web.

Schubert, T. and Tavassoli, S. (2020) ‘Product innovation and educational diversity in top and middle management teams’, Academy of Management Journal, 63(1), pp. 272–294. Web.

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