The rise of the global economy has created the need for greater efficiencies in today’s organizations. In order to remain competitive in the market, teams need to be dynamically adaptive in order to meet their organizations’ objectives. This paper investigates the characteristics of informal, virtual, self-managed, and formal teams to see how different teams handle work stress and how do they resolve group conflicts. We were a group in which members were from different types of team based group hierarchies.
When we initially discussed the topic of group dynamics, we all mentioned that conflict was an issue that occurs normally in all teams. This led us to agree upon focusing on the commonalities of conflict displayed in our related professional teams. Each member was assigned a type of team from the targeted four types of groups to investigate based upon what type of group we were from. In order to discuss how teams handle conflict it was determined that research needed to be done to help understand the multi-faceted dynamics of conflict in groups.
We decided to interview organizations we worked for or knew well. We used a set of guidelines formed from our discussions to help facilitate discussion amongst our learning group as well as teams we were to interview. We would then come up with a summary of these issues and then use research from current publications in order to come up with a best-case approach to handling these issues on our own. Concrete Experience: Ester’s experience As a software engineer, Ester routinely works on team projects, in a virtual environment involving members from other branches of her organization.
This led her to interview a project manager of a global financial corporation who has supervised several virtual group projects during the past five years. Since he was working in Australia most of the time, he had to fly between Sydney and Beiin frequently to manage their local office in China. Many of his projects involved bidding for contracts in China. Ester also interviewed one of his subordinates who had worked on a virtual project with him, but stayed in Beijin all the time.
Their experiences best illustrated the importance of group dynamics within a virtual team that facing both spatial and cultural dispersion. For example, one of their projects failed due to a conflict between the manager and the employee on the documents translation. The task seemed to be overwhelming to the employee in China. However, the group member in China did not take necessary steps to fully alert the manager on this issue. Miscommunication between the two resulted in a costly mistake. They lost the bid partly because of the low quality document translation.
To further understand virtual team dynamics, Ester interviewed a project manager from a global software company. The expert emphasized that a mechanism for open communication among virtual group member was the number one issue in his opinion. With an effective communication channel, it would be much less likely to cause conflicts among group members. Even when conflicts inevitably happened, it was much easier to solve them with smooth communication and transparent project management. Mike’s Experience Mike chose this topic due to his involvement in multi-institutional multi-disciplined medical projects.
The team Mike interviewed is a self-managed team at GAP that develops software for researchers to use in genetic epidemiology. In a recent project engagement, a few team members disclosed their dissatisfaction with the team’s progress direction. Mike discovered that two team members were dissatisfied and not motivated because their proposal for changing current development methodologies was rejected by their project manager. Although the product manager was receptive to their proposal, he felt their requests were currently not feasible for resource constraints.
This presented conflict between the team members and their project manager for different opinions they hold for group project’s development methodology. Not enough open dialogues between the manager and the team members resulted in two team members resigned their job unhappily. Michelle’s Experience Michelle works within her family’s business. Group dynamics is something that she often struggles in her day-to-day work life. Michelle explained that in her office there are several departments and several cliques within each department.
Being the new “kid” on the block, she expressed her anxiety in regards to being new, as well as being the boss’ daughter. She wanted to better understand how conflict affects these groups and ways to resolve these conflicts. As a manager, Michelle feels responsible for being attentive to conflicts within the office, whether or not they are work related. She wanted to be able to decode behaviors among her group members and promote positive group dynamics. With her objectives in mind, Michelle found that researching informal groups would be most beneficial for her individual situation.
After researching, Michelle found that informal groups are hard to define. Michelle found that informal groups are formed by nature in workplace. Just like in high school, cliques and friendships form within an office very quickly. Working with same people from the office at least 40 hours a week made it easy to develop friendship and bound within a department and/or office. Dealing with these informal groups can be just as challenging, if not more than formal defined groups. Office friendships are often exposed to “outside the office” dynamics that can potentially create many different issues.