When working in a group setting, often times conflicts are going to occur, therefore, strategies for conflict resolution are needed. This paper will take a long look at conflict management to get a better understanding of the offect of specific conflict resolution strategies on group outcomes.
All throughout our school days, and even on up through our careers, we will be instructed to work in groups. Group projects can be fun and run very smoothly, or they can lead to a great deal of frustration, as oftentimes the members chosen can not manage to work together as a team. One of the main purposes of group projects is to learn to work well in groups, considering most career paths will require some level of group work. This is where conflict resolution strategies come into play.
The Role of Conflict Management in Team Outcomes
Previous research suggests that a process for managing conflict can help to reduce the negative impact of conflict by restoring fairness, process effectiveness, resource efficiency, working relationships, and satisfaction of parties (E.G. Thomas, 1992). Team conflicts often show themselves as conflicts in the form of passive-aggressive behaviors such as power plays, blaming, tardiness, or withholding information (Edelmann, 1993; Wall & Callister, 1995). There is a growing number of evidence to show that the actions and reactions groups have to performance outcomes and evolving group dynamics leave teams prone to conflict (Ancong & Chong, 1996). If teams can not effectively manage conflicts that arise, the group will spend more time reacting to the conflicts, rather than the tasks at hand.
The conflict resolution process encompasses a wide range of activities including communication, problem solving, dealing with emotion, and understanding positions (Brett, 2001; Pondy, 1992; Putnam & Poole, 1987).
Conflict Resolution strategies effects on Team Performance
The purpose of this paper is to look at conflict resolution strategies in groups to better understand their effects on the group outcomes. Task conflict is a disagreement over differences in ideas, viewpoints, and opinions pertaining to the groups task (Amason & Sapienza, 1997). When faced with a task conflict the strategy that seems to be most successful in resolving that conflict is the discuss/debate strategy. This strategy helps the members to consider both sides of the opinions, and solutions for those differences in opinion; therefore, coming to a concensus. Relationship conflict is a disagreement resulting from incompatibilities, which includes feelings of tension and friction when faced with a relationship conflict the strategies that need to be used are confrontation, punishment, or taking actions to avoid future reoccurences. For example: if a team member is rolling his eyes at another team member, then he would be asked to leave the room and docked for his lack of participation. Process conflict is conflict about dividing and delegating responsibility and deciding how to get work done (Jehn, 1997: 540). When faced with a process conflict, the strategy that seems to be the most successful is the compromise strategy. For example: instead of assigning tasks according to a group members expertise, then the team would assign then a task according to their interests.
Steps to follow when working on group projects
To get the most benefit out of group projects there are some simple steps that can be followed to make the process run more smoothly.
• Clarify the goals and tasks to be accomplished by the group.
• Work together to break the project up into separate tasks and assign people and due date for each piece.
• Communicate with other members of the team.
• Leave enough time at the end to pull all the pieces together and to make sure everything is done.
Throughout our lives weither in a grade school or a graduate school group project, the group will more than likely incure some conflicts. The conflict resolution strategies defined above will help to deal with those conflicts in a more productive manner.
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