Team Building and Communications
Conflict is an inevitable part of human nature
It emanates from interaction between two or more entities that are working towards achieving their objectives. Modern organizational environment is characterized by a discontinuous change that aims at improving competitive positions and introducing innovations. Therefore, dealing with conflict effectively is crucial for receiving advantages from conflict as a driving force. Conflict can be defined as an “interactive process manifested in incompatibility, disagreement, or dissonance within or between social entities (i.e., individual, group, organization etc.)” (Rahim, 2011, p. 16).
During the team formation, there are two important aspects that should be considered and delineated: content and process. Content in teams refers to objectives of the work group. Process appeals to the dynamics of relationships between team members. “An effective team-building effort will improve both the work interrelationships and the actual work output of the work” (Norville, 1993, p. 172). There can be distinguished several factors that have a significant impact on the performance of a work group: (1) the level of cooperation with other elements (departments) of an organization, (2) understanding and devotion to team objectives, (3) clarification of individual roles, and (4) the quality of human relationships among members of the group. According to Norville (1993), an effective health care work group should have the following elements: (1) appropriate leadership of the team manager, (2) suitable membership (members of the work group must have professional skills), (3) commitment to the team, (4) concern to achieve (understanding objectives of the team by every member), (5) clear role of every member, (6) well-organized team procedures, (7) positive group and intergroup relations.
Team building stages should be differentiated from natural behavioral stages
There are five behavioral stages in the process of team building: formation, disequilibrium, role definition, maturity, and maintenance (Norville, 1993). A thorough understanding of these stages may be a key to understand communication barriers between team members. As a rule, communication barriers emerge during the first two behavioral stages – formation and disequilibrium. During the formation stage, devotion to work is ambiguous, and communication among team members is limited. The disequilibrium stage results in the emergence of potential conflict as different views of individuals encounter. As a result, communicative protectiveness may appear. To avoid communication barriers, it is advisable to come to the third behavioral stage as fast as possible. During this stage, when roles and responsibilities are defined, teamwork becomes more successful and communication is more open. At this stage, team receives a common goal which is another stimulus for cooperation and open communication.
In resolving and preventing conflicts in a team where members have different roles, it is important to set ground rules. This presupposes creation of certain behavioral patterns that a group is obliged to follow. Another strategy that will assist in resolving a conflict within a group is the agreement of all members on actions in case a conflict arises. Furthermore, the nature of conflicts in team derives from the lack of understanding of a common goal or personal roles. Therefore, it is pivotal to explain these concepts to the team at the initial stage of their work. It is also advisable that this information is repeated all the time. This would guarantee that there will be fewer conflicts of a functional nature.
With a variety of departments in big organizations, it is important to construct strategies that would prevent conflicts between them. Therefore, measures should be taken on the organizational level. It is an approved practice that big organizations construct and implement policies to keep work ethics and conduct on the highest level. Organizational culture should be popularized through constant communication with employees in the form of trainings, internal media or live workshops. Through these means, organization will inform employees about expectations in terms of ethics and decrease the possibility of any kind of conflicts.