Over the semester, we have covered several elements of teaming and team decision making. All of these elements come together, allowing teams to field group conflict. Lencioni (2002) discusses that conflict is necessary within a team for development and decision making. Unfortunately, the word conflict has a negative connotation; however, groups thrive amid healthy conflict.
As we look back at my original team scenario, we can apply several of the concepts we’ve discussed. As Kahn (2009) explained, teams must begin by discussing the reason for the team’s formation. Knowing the “why” will help establish a foundation for the team and provide direction. For this team, a discussion would not have been the most helpful as trust was absent, according to Lencioni (2002). This absence of trust is evident by Traci and Daniel choosing to discuss Chloe and Anthony’s lack of performance with other individuals on the team as opposed to them individually. Lencioni (2002) recommends using a team effectiveness exercise to assist in the establishment of trust between team members.
To solve their conflict, it might be helpful for all team members to understand their TKI conflict modes. Understanding where you fall on the index can be useful in understanding and addressing group conflicts. As a compromiser, Daniel could have been the voice of reason to help the group address their concerns to have a productive conversation as he would have the ability to see conflict as an opportunity to find a middle ground. He would have brought the group together to find a way to ensure Chloe and Anthony had time to complete their other tasks but also be able to contribute to the overall completion of the team task. In this solution, Chloe and Anthony would be giving up some of the time they would be devoting to other projects, and the rest of the team would be adding additional work to their workloads. This is the essence of compromise as each team member would be giving up some of their wants to achieve the goal.
Understanding and utilizing the TKI conflict modes among individuals is one way to assist; another way would be manager or leadership intervention. In the scenario, the team’s manager was extremely hands-off and gave the group a fair amount of autonomy. Bolman and Deal (2017) discuss that excessive autonomy and loose structure on a team can allow people to go astray. This was true of the document approval team as they had little direct oversight. The team manager could have also taken steps to put in perspective how the additional initiatives Chloe and Anthony were tasked with, played into the team’s overall mission. In doing this, the manager can create a common goal for the team, helping them reach a collaborative mindset instead of seeing them as competing tasks. (Eisenhardt et al., 2015)
These potential solutions allow us to analyze the team’s conflict on an individual, interpersonal, and team level. Throughout this course, we have learned to explain our role as leaders individually, as members of the team, and as leaders on a team. This holistic approach to understanding leadership will allow us to make better decisions regarding teamwork, leading to our desired outcomes.
Bolman, L. & Deal, T. (2017). Reframing organizations. Jossey-Bass
Eisenhardt, K. M., Kahwajy, J. L., & Bourgeois III, L. J. (2015). How management teams can have a good fight. Harvard Business Review.
Kahn, W. A. (2009). The student’s guide to successful project teams. Routledge.
Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team. Jossey-Bass.