January 10th, 2018
Interpersonal Conflicts in Teams – Outcomes of Conflicts in Teams
In most cases, conflicts could be viewed to have negative outcomes on a team’s functioning. Since conflicts affect cohesiveness and positive interdependence among team members, they lead to the development of a tense environment that adversely affects team performance (Pillai & Williams, 2004). A tense environment, for instance, limits effective communication between individual team members and effective communication is needed to better team performance. Outcomes of conflict in teams could thus influence individual members’ actions in a group or influence interpersonal relationships between the team members thus affecting the overall team performance. Interpersonal conflicts are aggravated when there is perceived unfairness towards particular members due to their cultural orientation (Seymen, 2006).
For individuals, conflicts could lead to their increased anger and hostility towards other team members (Wall & Callister, 1995). This promotes negative emotions that enhance frustration, which could ultimately result into an individual quitting the team or the organization (Wall & Callister, 1995). With increasing conflicts, the team’s functions would be curtailed if their outcomes are to lead to a high member turnover. High turnover in the team would mean that the team has to incorporate new members frequently in order to fill the function that the leaving member has vacated, which would have negative implications for cohesiveness of the group (Pillai & Williams, 2004).
On the other hand, in respect to interpersonal relationships, conflicts affect the trust among the team members thus curtailing intra-team communication (Wall & Callister, 1995). Limited communication, in this context, may manifests in members avoiding one another thus eventually reducing the commitment of members to team goals (Wall & Callister, 1995). When these conflicts are due to unfair treatment based on members’ cultural differences, cooperation in the team would be adversely affected, which would curtail the team’s performance (Pillai & Williams, 2004).
On the opposing front, conflict is, at times, a driver of positive outcomes to a team’s performance. Positive effects of conflicts occur when disagreements that arise are based on the task to be performed (Chou & Yeh, 2007). Esquivel and Kleiner (1996) for instance argue that, “a positive outcome to work team conflict depends on the types of differences that lead to disagreements,” (p. 11). One of the types of conflict, the C-type, in this case, has the effect of enhancing openness and honesty towards the “team’s decision-making process while maintaining acceptance by team members and creating greater commitment” (Esquivel & Kleiner, 1996, p. 11). Arguments that some types of conflicts drive better outcomes on the team’s decision-making process and communication have however been contested on various grounds. Chou and Yeh (2007) for instance note that even a task-oriented conflict could interfere with consensus and deviate members’ attention from the team’s ultimate goal thus hampering effective team performance. As such, the outcomes of conflict on a team’s performance are predominantly negative thus the need for their effective management. In fact, the way a conflict is handled determines whether the conflict betters team members’ interaction afterwards or curtails such interaction. Effective conflict management within teams brings positive outcomes beyond the direct effect of resolving the conflict. Go to part 5 here.