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People live and work within the framework of some kind of organization, a context that provides written and unwritten, formal and informal rules and guidelines about how its members should conduct themselves. Individuals belong to different families and each family has distinct religious beliefs that differ from another family. This paper is anchored on the theoretical viewpoint of Bruce Tuckman referring to how groups are formed whether these groups can be seen in formal or informal organizations and set-ups of all kinds.
This is especially applied on the teamwork and/or teambuilding.
Tuckman introduced his theory of how groups emerge and better known by the concepts that he ascribed to the stages. His theory arose out of years of scientific observations and research in various types of groups (Tuckman, p.1).
The forming stage is described as consisting of orientation, testing, and dependence that are usually present in almost all of the groups studied. The second phase or stage is more seen by the type of characteristic behaviors or attitudes manifested by the people or individuals of a particular group where concepts such as conflict and polarization arise which in the process characterize more the resistance that is being experience by the group’s immediate scope of influence.
This second stage is called the storming stage (Tuckman, p.2)
The third phase is known as norming when eventually most of the conflicts and/or resistance has been resolved giving way to an “in-group feeling” or “group cohesiveness.
More often at this stage, individual members are more open, expressing themselves more and have shed their guardedness (Tuckman, p.2).
The fourth phase is called the performing stage which is more known by the characteristic traits manifested by individual members where they become more yielding to the roles and they become more cooperative to the functions whatever they may be. In addition they also are able to let their energies be directed to the tasks that are supposed to be responded to in the first place (Tuckman, p.2).
The last stage is an addendum or an additional stage to the four stages mentioned, which is adjourning and is described as the implied achievement or attainment of goals (usually) where dependency is at a minimum, where the tasks were already completed and the roles are no longer necessary and functional hence the group most likely must be dissolved (Tuckman, p.2).
Understandably, before teamwork is effectively put in place and in operation, the first three stages or phases should have taken place. People adjust to new things and new situations and as Tuckman describes it, it is inherent in the process that progression from non-cohesiveness to more cohesiveness; which also implies that people cooperate less and then if the norming is achieved, will exhibit cooperativeness among themselves. This is also the process of teambuilding.
Sadly, many organizations have not manifested teamwork or have not acgieved the performing stage where tasks become important to everybody but not only that, all contributions from all members are crucial and necessary. What are the salient factors within the first two to three stages that need to be addressed?
Disagreements with how one sees life situations are just a few of the reasons that conflicts happen so ordinarily. Just as conflicts are also integral parts of daily existence so does negotiating through them (Amason, 1996; Amason, Thompson, Hochwarter, & Harrison, 1995). Studies reveal that there is “no one size fits all” when it comes to navigating the disagreements and weather through storms where conflicts are concerned. However, there are principles that are observed when successful conflict management has taken place.
Managers, group leaders or any person who handles a team must have the abilities to handle people problem before this proceeds or develops into a team problem or before this affects performance. Conflicts therefore must be confronted and understood at the individual level where a person experiences inner personal struggles at varying degrees. However, this short study tackles in detail a much larger picture as it attempts to provide a succinct look at conflict resolution strategies in the area of team dynamics by examining, describing and explaining various concepts as to the understanding of these significant concepts.
Individual personal conflicts are inevitable occurrences that are usually taken for granted because of its “ordinariness.” Unless people undertakes a formal study on conflict management, he/she goes through life hitting and missing (at most) at ways of resolving issues and inner conflicts and in all probabilities, somehow manages to escape conflicts. The following important features in team dynamics are specifically indicated and described because these are crucial points in developing effective management of conflicts and developing efficient team dynamics.
Defining conflict, it is the “state of disharmony brought about by differences of impulses, desires, or tendencies” (Rayeski & Bryant, 1994, p. 217). There are benefits as to the presence of conflicts but definitely when these are worked out.
Working teams in relationship to conflict resolution strategies provide benefits including personal and team growth as team members acquire insights with relationships and how these relationships are utilized to better reach worthwhile goals. In addition, working teams have optional choices rather than solitary attempts at confronting conflicts, such as higher possibility arriving at the solutions of the problems, promoting cohesiveness among the team, and increasing the involvement or participation of members.
Based on the study presented by Johnson (2005), few researches actually “describe how to identify conflict.” There are seven types of conflicts depending on “who is in conflict with whom” (Fisher et al, 1995; in Johnson, 2005). These are:
~an individual with inner conflicts totally unrelated to the team but whose best performance for the team is not achieved due to the personal problem, thus influencing the whole team
~two distinct members are in direct conflict with each other
~one against all members
~all against one member
~a lot of members against a lot of others as well
~one whole team as against another team
~all of the team as against one person not a part of the team.
Another type of conflict focuses on two kinds of conflict existing in a team: task (Jennsen et al., 1999) and affect (Amason et al., 1995) types of conflict. The first type is usually beneficial as it relates to objectives and goals that are to be achieved essentially in a group. The second involves relationships which entails personal preferences and the like. Most conflicts boil down to the level of affect type and more difficult to deal with especially when people really do not want to cooperate. This can also occur at the same time.
Since conflict and disagreements are integral to the growth and performance of teams, it is therefore necessary that individual members and as a group, go through an education process to understand the nuances of conflict. They necessitate the learning to distinguish what healthy debates are, brainstorming and normal exchange of ideas which are important to team achieving corporate goals (Johnson, 2005). Studies by Tjosvold and colleagues (1999) show that when disagreements are brought into the open and talked about, conflicts are minimized and feelings of frustration, anger and doubts or suspicions are abated.
The presence of a team facilitator can help prepare people in conflict in confronting their fundamental disagreements and/or prevent conflicts to escalate at alarming levels. A good or excellent team facilitator can be the team leader, supervisor or an outside who knows very well the dynamics of conducting team resolutions. He/she aids everyone involved into the process and assists them to air out their grievances in a careful, non-violent manner much like in a healthy debate (Bens, 1997).
Team agreements start off with ground rules to be able to achieve or attain at something. Coordination in any given work must take into careful account that everyone starts at somewhere and concur at a particular set of guidelines to direct the group to definite goals. Uncoordinated teams will still definitely go somewhere but perhaps not where they or someone in charge of them would want them to be.
What are involved then in team agreements? Team agreements develop, protect and help preserve unity and the aspects this specifically takes on are the responsibilities and expectations, communication, participation, decision making and problem solving, managing those disagreements, conduct of participants or “cooperators” during and between meetings and consequences. The baseline agreements like these are different when management of conflict is the issue. Research reveals that whenever teams utilize this strategy, difficulties and even conflicts are reduced to a minimum (Davison, 2003).
Preparation to any eventuality tops the list when it comes to coming up with a solution to conflict. This means that understanding of the whole gamut of team dynamics including potential destructive behavior is important and essential to preventing and providing solutions to conflict. Skills by any member towards conflict resolutions, facilities to allow participants to express or ventilate themselves without threat or fear of censure are also vital. Of course, per advices by experts, those techniques and approaches that increase enhance task-related conflict and reduce affect-related conflict help reduce the presence of conflict and even remove its threat from the group. Effective planning is also a good strategy as it minimizes the conflict from escalating to a point that it becomes hard to manage already. Employing a conflict checklist can be an excellent ingredient as well in resolving and minimizing the incidence of conflict.
Organizations in whatever form or state thrive fundamentally on communication. Inherent in the understanding of progress, development and growth of any institution is the reality that in order to be ahead, its members should be able to know what its goals are and are united towards accomplishing those goals. As expected, team communication is a must for this to occur. It is very important that communication is always flowing and open to everyone involved. Without effective communication, an organization as teamwork, like a human body, will experience atrophy at some point and eventual deterioration of the whole system if the problem is not addressed early on.
However, overdoing the system of communication or doing little for crucial areas can also become detrimental for the overall organizational health (Guffey, 2003). It is then important to consider the (1) Nature and timing of communication, (2) the Methods or technology necessary for implementation and effectiveness, and (3) the Various functions or placements of individuals and team members within that communication network (Kimball at http://www.groupjazz.com/pdf/matrix,accessed Feb.15, 2007).
Many more can be added on the list except that these three are the most important when it comes to building a strategic structure on team communication. It is precisely through this rationale that a team is able to survive or flourish in the context of a bigger organization. When its individual members have highly developed communication skills then the whole team will enjoy the benefits of its resources which include the achievement of its goals.
This means firstly, that the team leader knows what he needs to communicate. It is to establish a clear goal or inspiring purpose statement that can jumpstart as well as sustain all team members in the process of achieving the team’s overarching objectives. Bear in mind also that constant change is the only thing that anybody can expect in this technology – oriented society.
The team must be constantly updated and able to cope and compete in such a milieu. Because of this a sensitivity to change is a must for a leader and for the rest of the team to be on the cutting edge and never waning in the process of time. Again, what is crucial here is the identification of who will be involved, what are at stake, what limitations should be imposed so as to provide focus and measurable steps for the team (Kimball at http://www.groupjazz.com/pdf/matrix,accessed Feb.15, 2007).
To develop a communication strategy, the determination of different kinds of work need to be dealt with at the outset and constantly reinforced so as to align and create an effective network of team players. This portion precisely gears toward the understanding of the nitty gritty of the whole system. Details of the job become easier to comprehend and implement when every member is placed strategically based on their known skills, abilities and interests.
There is of course, a need for apparatuses or tools other than the human resource that are provided to enhance and speed up the process. Also important is the classification of what is routine, what are the usual problems encountered on a regular basis, and also whether there are new patterns that come into view and perhaps need to be addressed in the soonest possible time (Kimball at http://www.groupjazz.com/pdf/matrix,accessed Feb.15, 2007).
In a sports game like basketball, the positioning of players is critical to the winnability of the team. It is not to be taken for granted. The accurate placement of the players’ capability and ability ascertains, to a large extent, the possibility of the team’s becoming the champion in the duration of the game.
The coach does not leave to chance their aim to win the game; rather, he sees to it that his team is positioned to such a degree that winning is not only a probability but a surety. On the other hand, imagine that the players are all misplaced. A supposed “guard” has been placed to the center role, and the center player plays as a “forward”, the latter then plays as a “guard.” Obviously, this kind of team is a total mess. Being in that position guarantees the team a loss and not a victory.
The human resource is unpredictable and complex. Effective communication strategies between and among team players on their specific functioning on how they perform and relate should be made and reinforced constantly. According to Lisa Kimball, “The nature of communications among the team about different parts of the work – including the frequency, the volume, and the degree of interactivity – is different depending on where that work falls in the matrix” (Kimball at http://www.groupjazz.com/pdf/matrix,accessed Feb.15, 2007).
As stated above, to avoid information overload, there should always be only a right measure of communication because to overdo it will diminish the interest of team members either to listen or to communicate.
Vital to the life and continuity of a team or organization is the proper dissemination of information. This includes enough knowledge of those things and people that are involved in the whole set-up. When team communication is prioritized, teamwork is enhanced and the achievement of goals is within reach. There are many more qualities that can enhance team communication; nevertheless, this paper limits its approach to only three strategies. However, the smallness of amount of strategies in this thesis does not mean lack of comprehensiveness in dealing with the need for effective communication. The points herein discussed are generic and therefore applicable to any given situation and can be expanded to cover other details necessary to secure good communication in a team.
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