Strategies for Resolving Team Conflict
Many organizations, including colleges and major corporations, have begun the process of implementing work team systems. Teams present a greater diversity of knowledge, ideas, and experience than any one individual can offer. This diversity often helps to improve quality, create collaboration, enhance information exchange, and provide a sense of community and support to the team members (University of Phoenix, 2004); however, it can also foster conflict. Conflict is a part of everyday life and is generally caused by individual opinions and differences. “When individuals work in teams, differences in power, values, attitudes, and social factors can all contribute to conflict” (Kerr, 2005, para. 2). Avoiding conflict completely is impossible; however, the resulting outcome does not have to be negative. Using effective strategies to manage conflict can present positive consequences as well.
Prevention is usually the best cure for most problems. When all members participate in setting rules and guidelines, open communication and mutual understanding is created within the team that may defuse a conflict before it becomes a problem. “It is, after all, easier to agree on guidelines and processes everyone believes are fair when things are going well, rather than when the team members are in the midst of conflict” (Porter, 2003, p. 2). When the team makes these decisions as a group instead of receiving direct instructions from an authority figure, they are able to take ownership in the decision made and enforce it more effectively. In addition, various training courses and workshops are offered that team members can take advantage of to build awareness and acquire skills which could reduce or even prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. Some of these programs include team building, diversity...