Strategies for Effective conflict Management in a Team

The way the team, as a whole, and individual members handle conflict situations determines the type of outcome on team performance. Jehn and Mannix (2001) relate conflict management strategy to approaches that group members adopt towards reducing or eliminating conflict within the group. A theory of dual concern suggested by Pruitt and Rubin (1986) argues that the approach individuals take in conflict management is influenced by their high or low concern for self or others (cited in, Chou & Yeh, 2007, p. 1038). Such concerns have also been advanced to bear some association with cultural differences across the globe (Leung, 2008). Following such conceptualization various ways can be identified with respect to how people handle conflict situations.

First people who exhibit a high concern for both self and others tend to adopt a problem solving attitude towards a conflict (Chou & Yeh, 2007). With such a mind set then conflicts could result to innovative solutions that better future team relations. Secondly, individuals that regard others highly but have low self concern would tend to oblige to other persons desires (Chou & Yeh, 2007). Such acceptance may mean that the individual’s contribution to the team may be curtailed by an inferiority attachment to their contribution in comparison to those of other members. Thirdly are the opposite of obliging-type who view their will as the only possible solution thus imposing these on other team members (Chou & Yeh, 2007). Such orientation is related to high self concern but low concern for others and exemplifies autocratic leadership that would be detrimental to a team’s cohesiveness (Chou & Yeh, 2007). This could in fact amplify the conflict thus preventing its harmonious resolution. Another approach to conflict resolution is associated with people with low concern for both self and others thus tend to avoid or withdraw from the conflict situations (Chou & Yeh, 2007). When individuals avoid resolving conflicts consistently such could pile up that eventually it becomes impossible to continue working together thus leading to the collapse of the team. Finally unrelated to the dual concern theory is a compromising approach where individuals match others’ concessions in search for a common ground – win-win situation (Chou & Yeh, 2007). Though such may better team relationship it prohibits transformational team leadership since it assumes that nobody should be seen to have lost more ground than the other. If on a latter stage it is unearthed that one side of the conflict lost more ground, then such would be grounds enough for more grave conflicts to arise.

The association of these types of conflict resolution to different cultures means that just a culture differences are core causes of team conflicts; so are they in mediating resolution. Leung (2008) for instance notes that while western cultures tend towards individualistic perspectives of conflict resolution; collectivism cultures such as ones found in East Asia tend towards conflict avoidance. What then such implies is that effective conflict management in teams would incorporate aspects of transformational leadership that would recognize such cultural orientations. On such perspectives the need for leaders who approach team conflicts on a “problem-solving” perspective would better outcomes of conflict resolution in teams. It is such an attitude that has been advanced to promote innovative approaches towards conflict management (Chou & Yeh, 2007). And just as innovation is what ensures a firm survives the aggressive competition in the market; so would innovative problem solving approaches provide a tool for the team to members to wade through the murky waters of conflict and emerge unscathed. Problem solving attitude thus calls for transformational leadership that ensures a cohesiveness and self efficacy thus improving the overall team’s performance (Pillai, & Williams, 2004). Go to part 6 here.

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