Dynamics and Conflict within a Team Essay

The team concept is not an unfamiliar one. We are surrounded by teams from the time we take our first breath until the time we leave this Earth. Doctors, nurses, aides, dieticians, housekeeping, and others all exhibited a collaborative effort to ensure our arrival into the world was a safe and successful journey. Our adventures throughout grade school were also brought about by teamwork. Sports, movies, ballet, politics, business, higher education and several other parameters of life as we know it are the epitomes of teamwork, well-choreographed representations of the adage that states “Two heads are better than one.

Tasks achieved through teamwork are anticipated to be more thorough, more effective, more elaborative, more multifaceted, and more successful than those tasks carried out by one. Individuals comprising a team contribute intrinsic skills and intuitive knowledge to the whole of the team, each member making up for what the other lacks. The result is a balanced load of all the skills necessary to complete the assigned task with proficiency (Morris, 2005). The ultimate success of the team is strongly influenced by the member’s ability to work together in a cohesive state.

Team dynamics” encompasses any and all ways that individual affiliates interact with their counterparts en route to the common goal. The overall characteristics of the assigned task, along with the inert skill of each member may also have an impact on the team’s success (Morris, 2005). However, the focus here is more concerned with the interpersonal relationships within a team and strategies to employ in an effort to avoid conflict or to utilize should conflict arise.

The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science and Medicine defines team dynamics as the following: Often referred to colloquially as ‘team chemistry’; the patterns of interaction among team members that determine team spirit, harmony, cohesion, and morale. Some coaches believe that team dynamics are beyond their control, resulting from the unpredictable mixture of the personalities. Others believe that one of the most important tasks of a good coach is to create the best possible team dynamics for success (Oxford, 2005). The concepts behind this definition can apply to all types of teams.

The team’s ‘chemistry’ is a dominant factor outlining the success of a team. If team members cannot work together effectively, then completing their assigned project is a more difficult goal to achieve. The virtual team is presented with quite a few more discrepancies to overcome than those teams centered in real time. Before they are fully able to work up to their potential, the virtual teammates must establish some kind of rapport with their fellow constituents, lay down mutual ground rules ensuring each member has a designated responsibility, and everyone must strive to meet the team’s common goal, no matter their differences individually.

Of these aforementioned qualities, the neutral rapport is the most difficult one to render effectively. Unfortunately, personality is often misinterpreted or lacking in full in the virtual team environment compared to those real time teams, where the member’s personalities are vividly displayed. Physically present interaction allows one to pick up on the visual and unspoken cues that contribute to a person’s character. Body language, voice inflection and intonation, the nodding of a head, or firm handshake are just among the few effective communications present in the real world, but lacking in the virtual realm.

One has to rely on their own interpretations of their affiliate’s written accounts and then come to a fair-minded conclusion. “When it comes to teamwork, a person’s ability to build relationships, work with others, and communicate effectively can be more important than his or her technical expertise” (Dawson, 2005). This concept is crucial if an online team is to be successful. If one member does not have the ability to communicate their own thoughts and ideas online, how will the rest of the team incorporate that member’s contributions into the project?

The need for team dynamics is understood after the team is formed, when the individuals work collaboratively toward the common goal. The precursor to team dynamics is (or should be) thoroughly contemplated prior to assigning each member to the team, according to the task at hand and the skills of each member. If the team consists of those most knowledgeable in marketing an idea, for example, and the project calls for a team of post-marketing surveyors, then (obviously) the team would not know how to go about getting the job done, and so their dynamics would be hindered.

Team members need to trust each other as well as trust each other’s expertise. They need to feel confident that the other members are doing their share, so that when the team finally pools their ideas together, a multifaceted solution results. Teaming is a collective responsibility; every member is held accountable for their individual contribution, as well as the timely completion of the collaborative effort. In 1965, Bruce W. Tuckman developed a model of five stages for developing teams: “forming”, “norming”, “storming”, “producing” and “ending” (Bookman, 2005).

At the “forming” stage, dynamics are important because this is where things begin. At this point you need the chemistry to see how to set up the group according to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You need to feel confident that all of the members are willing to do what is required for the good of the team. The “norming” stage is where the group comes together. Dynamics are important here because decisions need to be made and rules need to be set. The team needs to decide who will do what.

Expectations, both of the group and of each individual, will also be determined at this point. The team also has to decide what will be done regarding conflicts, lack of participation of a member, and lack of , or insufficient, contributions. If the group dynamic falls apart here, the group will fall apart. If a problem is going to exist, it usually makes itself present during the “storming” stage, which now comes into play. Strong dynamics within the group can help resolve potential problems before they become major issues.

As long as the group can communicate well, they should be able to resolve any conflicts. Next in line is the “producing” stage, where good team dynamics start to pay off as the team is now producing high volumes of quality work. At this point, if there are problems with the work, a strong team dynamic will ensure the issues are resolved. Finally (and appropriately titled), we come to the “ending” stage. The team itself has completed their task and is no longer required or just one member could be departing as their individual task is complete, marking this point.

If the team as a whole terminates, a good dynamic can ensure each member walks away with a positive outlook, especially if there may be another opportunity to work with the same team. However, if the ending is due to a teammate’s departure, a good team dynamic will make it easier to carry on without that member’s presence (Bookman, 2005). Improving team dynamics is actually a learning experience. Each member has to learn to develop or improve upon their ability to trust, be dependent upon, and work with each of their partners.

One way to do this is through challenge programs. Challenge programs are initiated away from the office, and are not specifically job related. The people involved will face physical or mental challenges with only the other members of their group to rely on. The team’s success will depend on each member’s ability to trust, guide and accept guidance, assist and accept assistance from their colleagues. When it comes to teams, and the team dynamic, the success of the team is dependant on the success of the individuals (Steinfeld, 2005).

Another concept, if a physical challenge program is not an option, is an on-line training program. According to the “News” section (2005), Personnel Today mentioned that the BBC used an on-line training program that showed that the majority of participants learned a ‘significant amount’ by participating in the program. The basis of this program was to show that teams can be more successful when the leaders use more of a teaching / coaching approach rather than a command-and-control approach. Yet another option to improve team dynamics, and have a successful team, is found in Kenneth E.

Holtman’s (2005) “The 10 commandments of team leadership. ” (Training 101: It’s a team effort). The abstract is a follows: The first requires them to stick to their mission and vision, which guide teams in creating and using more precise strategies and plans. The second commandment obligates team leaders not to tolerate undesirable behavior, which can only undermine team morale and performance if not addressed properly. The third commandment insists on the eschewal of self-interest to dominate over mutual interest, which helps avoid resentment, competition and conflict.

The other rules require preventing fear to influence team behavior, fighting cliques which can affect team dynamics, dealing with conflict, refusing to recognize luck of trust as an excuse, encouraging risk taking, sharing information and managing processes carefully. Although this article refers to the leadership role, it can also be a guide to improve the team dynamic at an individual level. Even an individual, is a leader, when it comes to their part of the project. In summary, team dynamics are important because dynamic or ‘real’ teams have clarity of purpose.

Everyone understands the team’s objectives, as well as own intrinsic roles in delivering them. Other key characteristics include a focus on quality, support for innovation, and the ability to work creatively with potential conflicts” (Agnes, 2005). Time Management . . . A concept we should all thoroughly master. In our present lives, though, managing time seems to be an insurmountable feat. We have goals whose obtainment is so far in the distance that we tend to lose sight of them, put them off to satisfy the initial moment, and lose ourselves in the process. We all have so many things going on in life these days.

We all wear so many hats, working valiantly to meet up with the demands of each one. In doing so, we put too much pressure on ourselves to please the masses, not focusing on which one should come first or which ones can be eliminated to better suit the more prospective accessories. Prioritize! Analyze your collection of hats, keeping in mind that God only gave you one head because you are only one person. The two hands He blessed you with are more suitable for delegating the tasks by passing down or throwing out the hats which do not measure up to the high priority coverings.

Don’t waste time finding time. Each and every day seems to begin with focusing on the fastest route from point “A” to point “B,” like those deluded souls you may see driving around forever in a crowded parking lot simply to get a closer space, when they could have been in the building faster if only they had taken the first available slot. We put too much time-consuming thought into those misconstrued notions held dear to our “get rich quick” “instant gratification” society. Success does not happen overnight; it never will.

Honest achievements are the result of dedication, blood, sweat, tears, pain, anguish, mental fatigue, still persevering in light of all these constituents. Do not delude yourself to the “get something for nothing” ideal. In all matters of simplicity, it is just not going to happen. Instead, spend one day planning out your entire journey en route to destination, “My Ultimate Goal,” mapping out your daily trek so that you know the steps required to make your arrival at your future locale a realistic ambition.

Once the plan is made, we tend to start off by flying and then realize we find more pleasure in the up close and personal (although more time-consuming) scenic route. Do not focus on the negative concept of the ultimate goal being so far away, rather focus on the here and now – the positive reinforcement and instant gratification that makes itself present, daily, through climbing and conquering each individual cliff on the way to the your mountain’s pinnacle. If you have chosen to spend your time griping to others about how unfair life can be, then you have the time to realize the actions required to change it.

If you have the time to criticize others who are happy with their lives, then you have the time to determine what you need to do to satisfy your own, putting those realized actions into motion. Do not succumb to your past negative experiences that have defined your life up to this point. Reflect and eject or define and redesign! Recognize and get rid of those experiences not applicable to your present life. Or, acknowledge those hindrances and transform them into positives. We only become strong by being willing to overcome.

Once we overcome the negatives in our past, we can then view them as a present and future positive, in retrospect. Do not allow present or future obstacles to terminate your journey. Push them aside, jump over them, steer around them, or do whatever you have to do to find your way back to the path you once initiated. If the obstacles are applicable to your future and you must bring them along, simply take them under your wing and walk, instead of flying. More time will be required to reach your destination, but at least you will be continuing in the right direction.

According to Carol Carter, Joyce Bishop and Sarah Lyman Kravits (2002), “When you set goals, prioritize, and manage your time effectively, . . . you can develop the kind of focus that will help you achieve . . . ” Individuals and the whole team can utilize this strategy to enhance their own time management skills. Time management can be accomplished at the individual level by assessing one’s daily schedule. Write a list of wanted accomplishments, and then prioritize. Be realistic when compiling a daily schedule, and do not list more than can be effectively achieved by sundown.

Take control of goals and stay on task. Learn how to say “no” to keep control of your schedule. If unforeseen deviations do occur, simply get back on track as soon as possible. Times saving techniques are also helpful with effective time management. Take a few minute each day to plan the events happening that day, or schedule known appointments and other obligations occurring days, weeks, even months away, and then regressing to mark progress thus far. Day Runners, calendars, date books, PDAs and computers are some of the many tools available for using time wisely.

Place items in “urgent” and “non-urgent” categories as the list is compiled. (Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants Principle). Schedule within a reasonable time frame. Allow for relaxation breaks so that the focus is heightened once back on task. Incorporating critical thinking into our daily lives and daily routines will help us to use this technique in many areas of our lives and make more effective decisions. As the day starts, think through your day and look over your daily list to see in any adjustments need to be made. Again allow for flexibility.

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