Continuing on the journey of individual differences, leaders and managers face an increasingly diverse workforce. Not only are diverse individuals working side-by-side in organizations, many people are working virtually with teams from all around the world. Teams are not just groups of people sitting in a conference room but individuals who come together via technology; each individual attending a team meeting can join in from an office or cubicle potentially located anywhere in the world. In such a virtual environment, there is always the possibility of conflict due to the diverse nature of the meeting participants.
Consider the aforementioned aspects, and using the module readings and the Argosy University online library resources, research the challenges, benefits, and impacts related to teams or groups. Then, respond to the following:
By the due date assigned, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through the end of the module, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses.
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
What happens when a group of people comes together? This simple question is often answered in less than desirable ways everyday in organizational group settings. As people come together, individual differences may manifest in ways not conducive to preferred behaviors. At times, in order to avoid conflict, people may simply not say anything or go along with the crowd in what is termed groupthink, which will be discussed later in the module.
In other scenarios, the Abilene Paradox may play out, whereby members of a group agree to do something which none of the members want to do. Each member ultimately may feel uncomfortable with the action but no one speaks out due to believing he or she is the only one who is uncomfortable with the decision and action. Hence, a scenario plays out that in reality, no member wanted, which is a form of internal conflict that manifests to the entire group. Either way, the organization loses. So, the challenge appears in determining how conflict can be managed, even proactively, so that conflict is not destructive but constructive.
Rather than letting groups stagnate and stifle organizational initiatives, leaders and managers need to understand the mechanisms of group and team dynamics. By understanding these mechanisms, leaders and managers will be able to take a proactive instead of a reactive approach in managing individual and group behaviors that contribute to conflict.
These and other questions should be considered as you work through this module.
An organization is not made up of a single individual, as many people together constitute an organization. Large conglomerates have as many as ten to twenty thousand employees who work toward a common organizational goal. This commonality of thought is especially important even in instances of conflict or decision-making.
In an organization, very few processes or tasks can be handled independently. As a result, employees are divided into teams that are responsible for specific tasks within the organization. A team could be as small as a two-member unit, or as large as an army of fifty or more!
Although team members are selected based on their ability to work on specific areas of their expertise, many factors such as individual differences and improper understanding of the task at hand render decision-making tough or unproductive. A good example of this is the Bay of Pigs scenario where in 1961, a decision was made by President John F. Kennedy to launch an invasion into Cuba that had less than desirable effects and likely could have been avoided if Presidential advisors had felt comfortable in discussing and sharing what they perceived as flaws in the plan (O’Rourke, Thompson, & Gunther, 2008).
In this module, you will learn about various factors that affect the efficiency of teamwork, such as groupthink and organizational conflict. You will learn how to motivate people to work as a team, present ideas with confidence, and arrive at productive decisions. You will also learn about the effects of groups on individual performance, and understand the concepts of group dynamics.
Let us start understanding the importance of groups, teams, and teamwork. The application of this knowledge will aid in creating a strong, efficient, and productive change effort in your course project.
O’Rourke, J., Thompson, L. L., & Gunther, R. E. (2008). The truth about personal performance (Collection). Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.
A group will most likely comprise of various types of people who are informed but afraid of speaking out; who are not very informed, but bold and confident; who are informed and confident, and so on. When a team contains such diverse personalities, chances are that a healthy exchange of ideas may not always be possible. There will be many instances where members who are afraid or intimidated by other members of the group will refrain from giving voice to good ideas.
In the year 1952, William H. Whyte called such a phenomena groupthink (Arp, 2013). According to Whyte, more often than not, individuals in a team do not share their views on the subject being discussed for fear of ridicule or confrontation, or a feeling that their ideas are not relevant (Arp, 2013).
Such individuals also believe that the views and ideas being discussed have been agreed to by the entire group, without realizing that many others may have different opinions. The greatest fallout of groupthink is bad, irrational decisions that affect the performance of the team and consequently, the organization. Important decisions have to be made every day; so consider the implications of groupthink on a learning organization.
At other times, members will not hear ideas that are voiced by a member until another team member mentions the similar idea at a later date. There really is no clear reasoning for this but this is not done as a personal or pointed attack on a team member. This phenomenon is termed as a point of bifurcation in that when the idea was first mentioned, the team was not ready to hear the idea.
Another very similar concept is the Abilene paradox. In this scenario, a group of people collectively decides to undertake an activity despite the majority of people being against the idea. Originally, the activity was suggested just for the sake of saying something, rather than out of a desire to implement the activity. In a snowball type effect, the rest of the group agrees, even though they have no interest in the activity, but they believe everyone else does.
This illustrates a communication breakdown as members go along with the direction of the group even though they disagree with the direction. Each person believes his or her ideas or thoughts are counter to what the majority of the group members desire so he or she stays quiet and the group spends time and effort pursuing a course of action which no one wants.
Arp, R. (2013). 1001 ideas that changed the way we think. New York, NY: Atria Books.
Ben-Hur, S., Kinley, N., & Jonsen, K. (2012). Coaching executive teams to reach better decisions. The Journal of Management Development, 31(7), 711–723.
Stress is one of the main causes of conflict in an organization. As organizations are formed of people with different temperaments and attitudes, conflict is inevitable. However, is the existence of conflict in an organization bad?
Conflicts offer an organization the opportunity to consider different opportunities and perspectives to solve a problem. Conflicts can be good or bad. If team members are amenable to hearing each other’s views and can work together to develop innovative and unique products and services, the conflict is said to be productive, constructive, and therefore, good.
For example, consider a scenario where a department is under a great deal of pressure to hit production dates and volumes but is unable to obtain the needed parts in time from another department. This causes a great deal of conflict among team members as tempers become short and production goals are not met. Team leader one, who is in the department experiencing conflict, has a personal dislike for team leader two in another department. Team leader one will not communicate with team leader two regarding why team leader two’s department is not supplying parts on time or supplying less than the requested volume of parts. Instead, team leader one assumes this is simply an effort by team leader two to make team leader one look bad because they do not like each other.
In reality, on inquiry by a third party, team leader one has never attempted to contact team leader two to ascertain if he or she is aware that the late and short materials are causing undue stress and conflict, or even if team leader two knows that the products have not arrived on time and the numbers are short. The truth is that team leader two is unaware of team leader one’s department production deadlines and is also unaware that the numbers are short.
Since team leader two has never been informed of such issues, he or she assumes that everything is fine. Also, on inquiry, team leader two reveals he or she has no ill feeling or thoughts for team leader one, as the two have never even communicated or met. In short, the conflict being experienced throughout team leader one’s department could have been avoided had team leader one been amenable to communicating with team leader two.
Think about the following questions in order to channel organizational conflict in the most productive way in your learning organization:
Different styles of leadership and management are more conducive to managing conflict constructively in different situations. Being flexible and adaptable is important. Having systems in place to manage conflict is essential to sustainability and growth. Without conflict an organization stagnates. However, since conflict seems inevitable and necessary, leaders and managers need to be trained in recognizing conflict early and also in harnessing the power of conflict constructively.
People’s behavior and thoughts are influenced by the collective behaviors of the people they work with. Group dynamics involves the study of people’s behavior in groups. Most often, group behavior can influence people to take actions that they would otherwise never have taken as individuals.
Every group has a leader, who is selected officially or unofficially. The other members consider the leader as the mentor and generally follow his or her lead. All members of the group have an inherent desire to feel like they belong to the group and therefore, most people are in agreement with each other over most issues and there are no conflicts.
Once the group is established, competition and conflict begin to arise. At this stage, it is important to look at the conflicts as opportunities, and use them to solve problems. Therefore, it is important that not only leaders and managers have conflict training, but also the group members.
Once this is achieved, all group members begin to understand and accept each other and look toward one another for help, suggestions, and perhaps more importantly, value the input of the other members. At this point, the group is better equipped to deal with problems. Even the absence of a few members does not affect the working of the group. Every member is willing to accept leadership roles and work as one to achieve the organization’s goals.
After winning any team sport, the first thing players often say is: “We did it!”
People come together as teams when they have to achieve a goal that cannot be achieved single-handedly. This is why people form teams of like-minded people and work together to achieve that common goal.
Here are some of the requirements for successful teams:
A team is able to work harmoniously when all members recognize and appreciate the importance of teamwork and acknowledge the contribution of each team member. Such efforts will likely guide the team to becoming a fully functional, high-performance team, and in the global organizational context, perhaps even lead to self-managed teams.
Consider the following as you develop your course project regarding a change effort.
In this module, you were afforded an opportunity to learn about groupthink and some similar concepts such as points of bifurcation and the Abilene Paradox. Conflict was discussed in a manner that aligns to the central premise of AI, which perceives conflict as an opportunity rather than a problem. Group dynamics were discussed as was the element of trust. As group members begin to trust and value one another, conflict within the group can become constructive. This is highlighted in the discussion regarding teamwork. All the areas discussed in the module need to come together in order for a team to become fully functional.
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