Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution Strategies University of Phoenix ? Success in many areas of our lives, be it family, education, business, or leisure, is dependent on successful teamwork. Teams are “a number of persons associated together in work or activity…a group on one side”(Merriam-Webster, 2008). There are many types of teams, work teams, school teams, sports teams, families etc. “The fact remains that teams, because they are made up of imperfect human beings, are inherently dysfunctional”( Lencioni, 2002). This inherent dysfunction is more commonly referred to as conflict.
Working teams/groups need to be able to resolve conflict quickly and effectively in order to keep the team working well. Therefore, understanding and application of conflict resolution strategies is necessary to achieve success in any endeavor we undertake. Three often used and proven successful types of conflict resolution are negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Each has its own style and reasons that they are successful strategies for conflict resolution. The first “go to” form of conflict resolution in negotiation. Negotiation is bargaining- the process of discussion and give-and-take between two or more disputants, who seek to find a solution to a common problem” (The Conflict Resolution, 1999-2007). For simple problems negotiation is the key. “A negotiation will end in one of four possible outcomes: lose-lose, win-lose, win-win, or no outcome (no consequences, negative or positive). In most situations, the ideal outcome is win-win”(Stark, 2003). When a team gets together to discuss the positive and negative points of the conflict, a negotiation can be reached. Negotiating well means neither party need feel cheated, manipulated, or taken advantage of”(Goodman, 1991-2008). This strategy should make everyone involved feel at ease with the situation as well as the outcome. With the outcome to the liking of all involved a team will work better together then if one person makes all of the decisions. Though, the preferred form of conflict resolution, negotiation does not always solve the problem. If negotiation does not work, the next step would be to attend mediation. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement” (Association for Conflict, 2003). Mediation comes in handy when a team cannot seem to negotiate together to solve the conflict. A mediator is an impartial third-party, trusted by the team to remain impartial, who can help clarify different aspects of the conflict in order to help reach an agreement. “It’s the mediator’s job to make sure that everyone gets a chance to express all of his or her concerns”(Common Ground, 2008).
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It is important, within a conflict, that everyone is able to have their say. With mediation, “You have the flexibility of taking time to consider how a decision will affect your future. You can agree to “try out” agreements to see how they work, and make changes as you learn more about how these agreements work in practice” (Common Ground, 2008). Being able to see how different resolutions will affect the outcome of the conflict is always an important step in ending the conflict. This strategy allows everyone to make their point as well as understand the points of others.
Mediation helps teams come to a voluntary decision with the help of someone outside of the group. The next step, if an agreement cannot be made through negotiation or mediation, is arbitration. “Arbitration is a process in which a third-party neutral, after reviewing evidence and listening to arguments from both sides, issues a decision to settle the case”(Association for Conflict, 2003). The outcome of arbitration is legally binding. “Arbitration is the submission of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for a final and binding decision, known as an “award. Awards are made in writing and are generally final and binding on the parties in the case”(American Arbitration Association, 2007). Where negotiation is overseen by the team itself, and mediation is over seen by the mediator, arbitration is overseen by an arbitrator (this could be a retired judge or attorney with the qualifications). Arbitration is mainly for a more serious problem within a team. Most teams never make it to the point of arbitration. The process is held within a room that is similar to a court room. This is a process in which the disputes wave the right of a jury.
With the amount of conflict in this world, it is good to know different ways of solving the conflict quickly and professionally. Negotiation should most always be used at the first step in conflict resolution. It is the easiest strategy to implement, and has the benefit of keeping the conflict within the team. When a decision cannot be made, there are times that an impartial third-party needs to be involved. Mediation is the next step from negotiation and helps bring the opposing sides closer to, if not make, a final decision by the use of a “fresh pair of eyes”.
When the conflict almost gets to the worst place possible then arbitration is the strategy to use. Arbitration brings in the “big guns” with the use of the arbitrator. This decision is the end-all, legally binding, conclusion of the situation. In the end, teamwork is the best way to avoid conflicts. When a group of people successfully work together toward a common goal, while taking in everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, they become a team. “It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare” (Lencioni, 2002).? References
Stark, P. B. , & Flaherty, J. (2003). The only negotiating guide you’ll ever need: 101 ways to win everytime in any situation. , : Broadway Books. Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: a leadership fable. , : Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. The Conflict Resolution Information Source. (1999-2007). Negotiation. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from www. crinfo. org/action/browse. jsp? nid=2364 Association for Conflict Resolution. (2003). Frequently asked questions about conflict resolution. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. acrnet. org/about/CR-FAQ. tm American Arbitration Association. (2007). Arbitration and Mediation. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. adr. org/sp. asp? id=28749 Common Ground Divorce Specialists. (2008). Methods. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. nocourtrooms. com/methods/divorce_mediation. php Goodman B. , (1991-2008). Psychology Today. The art of negotiation. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. psychologytoday. com/rss/pto-20070116-000011. html team. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/team