One of the most critical, if not the most critical aspect of team dynamics is communication. Effective or ineffective communication can lead to a team being extremely efficient and successful, or inefficient and a terrible failure. “Ineffective communication can be a source of discontent in a team” (Newson, 2006). The purpose of team communication is to enhance team performance; therefore, it is each team member’s responsibility to ensure effective communication. Communication is an observable aspect of coordination, and insights into observable behaviors which predict high or low performances can be gained by team communication analysis” (Hutchins et al. 1999). Four crucial elements teams must possess to communicate effectively are a willingness to have open authentic discussions, active listening, willingness to confront conflicts, and understanding. There are several factors a team has to consider when creating the environment for open authentic discussions.
One of the key factors is determining how each individual on the team communicates, and to access each individual team member’s strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to clearly expressing their views and opinions. Once this information is captured, then members will have a better understanding as to how to get all team members to participate in discussing key topics related to team goals. It is important that team members who are more expressive do not use this as an opportunity to dominate a more introverted team member. Clear objective conversations should be encouraged.
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Team members should present information in a very black and white manner (factual). Open discussions are a great way to get to know your team members. These discussions will reveal thing about your teammates that will help in your team’s communication process. So, encourage open discussions, this will lead to team trust. When team members are having discussions it is necessary that everyone is being an active listener. Team members should show an interest in the information being delivered by the speaker, before responding or reacting to anything that was said by the speaker.
Team members should ask questions and/or summarize the information that was given to ensure understanding. Active listening can also be called sympathetic listening and it can be broken down into a four-step process. First, mimic the content. Second, rephrase the content. Third, reflect feelings, i. e. , understand the other person’s feelings as well as your own. Fourth, empathize, rephrase the content and reflect feelings (Christol, 2008). The goal here is to try to understand the person’s thoughts and feelings to gain a better understanding.
Asking questions such as “Let me make sure I heard you correctly…” or “Let me make sure I have everything…”, is an excellent sign that someone is actively listening. In class discussions are a perferct example of listening actively. While the professor is speaking the student is having constent conversation with the professor to ensure their understanding. Active listening can be taught and is a skill that needs to be practiced and incorporated into our daily communication. Being able to confront conflict within a team is also key to communication. There will not always be harmony within teams.
Sometimes when things are not made clear, conflict shows it’s ugly head. A team charter is an example to how to make things clear within a team, which should address specifics about exactly what to expect from team members in order to achieve the team’s overall goals (University of Phoenix, 2008). There will be times where team members will have to agree to disagree in order to resolve conflicts. Remember, a team consists of three or more people and each person is unique in their own way. Therefore, it’s not a matter of if conflict will happen, it’s a matter of when will conflict happen in my team.
No one likes to confront conflict by nature; however, we need to know how to confront it whenever it arises. Honesty is a great approach when confronting conflict. Team members will have a greater respect for you if you can approach them with honesty. This ties back to having those open authentic discussions. Although being open and honest may step on some toes, ultimately, it’s worth it in order to resolve the conflict. If things can’t be resolved among team members, it is ok to involve a mediator such as a faculty member, but beware.
Faculty members will revert to your team charter to determine what your team agreed upon as it pertains to conflict resolutions. Be sure your charter is very specific. There will be instances that will be unavoidable and uncontrollable when dealing with teams. We are human beings and life happens whether we want it to or not. Our children get sick, our cars break down, and family members pass away. These are just a few of the things we need to have some level of understanding when it comes to teams. Once again, here is where the charter will play a role.
There needs to be a revision in the charter that pertains to what if a team member is not able to participate on an assignment due to an emergency? How will this be addressed as a team? If the team has built a solid relationship, it will not be difficult for the members to step up in the absence of another member. However it is critical that the team member who is experiencing the emergency contact the other team members the moment it is known that he or she will not be able to deliver or perform the task the other team members expect them to have.
If this is done, this will allow the other team members to make whatever adjustments they need to their schedules to manage the unexpected added responsibility. Life happens, but with effective communication there is no challenge that cannot be managed. In conclusion, according to Jim Temme and Jeanine Katzel (1995, 14), involvement must truly be auspicious. Team members need to hear each other’s suggestions and act on them when needed. To participate authentically means all ideas are ok and good ones are rewarded with positive feedback.
When team members criticize each other’s ideas causes them to keep things to themselves. Team intimacy is achieved when there is open communication and no fear of making comments. Keeping in mind the authentic discussions, active listening, willingness to confront conflict and understanding are the keys to effective communication within teams. References Christol, T. (2008, May). Active Listening vs. Effective Listening. Tactical Response, 6(3), 60-62,65. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from ProQuest Central database. (Document ID: 1489166611). Newson, P. (2006, December).
Participate effectively as a team member. Nursing & Residential Care, 8(12), 541-544. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from CINAHL Plus with Full Text database. Temme, J. , & Katzel, J. (Jan 9, 1995). Calling a team a team doesn’t mean that it is: successful teamwork must be a way of life. Plant Engineering, 49, n1. p. 112(2). Retrieved July 22, 2008, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodId=IPS University of Phoenix. (2008). Week Two overview. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week Two, rEsource. GEN300- Managing Learning Team Conflict.