The principle of effective group management and interaction is embodied in Orison Swett Marden’s (1850-1924) statement about cooperation. Marden affirms that “No employer today is independent of those about him. He cannot succeed alone, no matter how great his ability or capital. Business today is more than ever a question of cooperation.” Such wisdom from a business tycoon asserts the notion that the success of a group in dealing problems relies on effective teamwork.
Theories in leadership development and team management often emphasize the synthesis of rational thinking and diplomatic skills in handling conflicts; taking into account the situation at hand and the voice of each individual member. Effective team management is not a just the result of an immediate response to resolve conflict but it is also a unified action to achieve development. In order for a group to reach a consensus, they must be able to mobilize themselves to agree to a common goal and work as one unit (Stangor, 2004).
Cooperation in a team could be seen as a system wherein every action is underscored through the willingness of its members to compromise and arrive at a common solution. This is the ideal manner that groups are expected to act but as thinking individuals, problems still persist in uncooperative settings and more often than not, a third party is brought in to resolve the issues. It is therefore necessary for members to be familiar with each other’s approach in problem solving and assess their strengths and weaknesses to arrive at a workable solution (Stangor, 2004).
This essay will discuss the process by which group interaction and management is observed in my current employment at the Allstate Insurance Company. It will bring to light the steps and techniques that my team has experienced in response to any conflicts that we had encountered.
I am presently working at the Allstate Insurance Company, where its main business concerns handling personal lines insurance to private citizens and businesses. I work as an arbitrator staff for the company under the Medical lines section which caters to unpaid medical bills. I have been serving the company for 20 years and have gained much professional insight in dealing with clients and work colleagues within that time span.
I work in a team of three wherein my role is a negotiator between my team and our respective clients. We basically argue over the percentage of the unpaid bills of our clients, which is a lot of work but working on a team makes it much more manageable. I am at ease with the team that I was assigned to in our department as we deliberate on every client issue with tact and efficiency. Being able to fully understand what our job entails helps our team to deal with the tasks at hand.
I chose my work as the setting for my discussion on group interaction simply because I spend most of my time at work and I have a good grasp on the people that I work with and the working environment that I have been accustomed to.
Strengths and Weaknesses
My team has a great working relationship as we respect each other’s knowledge abilities in performing our duties in the company. Great team effort relies on the ability of its members to coordinate with each other in a professional manner and be able to handle conflicts tactfully and this is how our team copes with day-to-day stress. A great working relationship does not signify a rift-free interaction as we do have disagreements from time to time but we know how each member operates in terms of conflict so we can anticipate the action necessary to get things running smoothly again.
Our strength lies in the cohesiveness of our actions in dealing with difficult clients and the demands of our supervisor to put out more numbers every month. I am very thankful that our team leader, Steve, is flexible enough to handle the pressures from our supervisor as well as the shortcomings of our team on certain client matters.
His conflict style leans toward compromise as he always wants to find a middle ground whenever we disagree on something. My other co-worker, Jane, is the force that keeps us alert as she is perceptible enough to identify potential setbacks and faulty calculations. Her conflict style is more on collaboration as she painstakingly gives us a run-down on the possible solutions that we can offer the client.
My role as the negotiator helps the team gain the trust of the clients we handle as well as our supervisor in following through with the company’s policies. My conflict style is the same as Steve as we both would like to include the input of the client and the company in our final computation. Together, our team moves as one as we come up with an immediate response to the dilemmas presented to us by the client.
With regard to weaknesses, the only thing that I have observed to be the group’s waterloo is our difficulty in agreeing on a criteria or set percentage rate for unreliable clients as there were times when we needed the advice of our superiors in our disagreements on calculations and legal conditions under the state law. Still, I see it as a learning experience so I believe that the guidance of outside parties is necessary to enable our team to grow and to learn from our mistakes.
Conflict Management Techniques
Our team’s disagreements are usually about substantive and procedural issues since we rely on the company’s policies in executing our clients’ medical bills. Oftentimes, we struggle to arrive at a solution as our individual understanding of the clients’ situation is quite different. In the midst of conflicts, the team employs the 4Rs Method. Steve usually makes an outline of the client’s usage details, in which case Jane and I are encouraged to point out our main concerns on how to go about the calculations.
If we arrived at an impasse, the next step was to apply mediation, in which case we ask the help of our supervisor in determining what we should decide on. After the consultation, we review the statistics of the bill and come up with a final computation. When a number has been reached, we contact the client and send them the report for their inspection (Engleberg & Wynn, 2006).
Each member of our team has a specific role in constructing solutions to please both our clients and the company. Being aware of our position in the group keeps us motivated and bonded as we act in a professional manner.
Group Decision-Making Skills and Problem-Solving Techniques
Both the decision-making style and problem-solving techniques of our team consists of the 4Rs Method, Mediation and when necessary, Arbitration. These methods of conflict resolution keep the group from making any rash decisions and brewing resentment towards each other as we learn to work as one unit. Knowing what makes each member tick saves the group a lot of time in dealing with unnecessary issues that are not work-related (Engleberg & Wynn, 2006).
The concept of Group Cohesion encompasses our team’s ideals in creating an environment where each member’s participation in the decision-making process is recognized and supported. As a result of this, our team has won numerous awards that gave credit to our ability to follow through with our clients’ medical accounts (Engleberg & Wynn, 2006).
Group management and interaction revolves around the ability of members to work together cohesively in a manner that creates a common attitude toward a specific goal. It is also important for groups to maintain respect for its members as well as providing them with support and recognition for their contributions.
My experience with the team that I work with in the Allstate Insurance Company reflects the assumption that the key for a successful group interaction is efficient communication and active participation. Learning about the different conflict styles and techniques in handling problems and observing how that could be seen in the way my team handles conflicts gave me much insight into how I operate in a team and the progress that my team has achieved over the years.
Engleberg, I.N. & Wynn D. R. (2006). Working in Groups: Communication Principles & Strategies. (4th Ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Stangor C. (2004). Social Groups in Action and Interaction. New York: Psychology Press.