In the article “How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight” (Eisenhardt, Kalwajy, and Bourgeois, p. 402), the authors wrote about how a healthy conflict can quickly turn unproductive if left unchecked. The same scenario happened in the group that Mike interviewed. Two of the team members wanted to introduce new ideas on making changes to the application code base. The product manager agreed with them but chose not to implement the suggested changes. This conflict was healthy by its nature if the manger could have done better job on explaining the lack of required resources.
Instead, the members left the meeting disenfranchised. The key to having healthy debates is to create common goals and visions. This ensures that people understand what they are trying to accomplish and promotes “buy in”. The second key is to create multiple alternatives to solve the conflict. This allows the team to alleviate conflict by reducing the amount of energy used on single perspective. It is also important to focus on commonalities when dealing with conflict.
According to Hauss’s 2003 article (“The Conflict Resolution Information Source”): “When conflict happens, it is possible to reframe the dispute and begin to find areas of common concern where joint action is possible. ” Within the group Michelle interviewed, many commonalities were present. All of the women worked for the same company. They were approximately the same age, and lived in the same area. They shared stories over lunches and shared entertaining emails, all of which they enjoyed thoroughly.
Hauss explained how groups had common bonds over many items such as interests, hobbies, personalities, similar lifestyles, children, spouses, and even pets. Because the commonality bond existed, the group was drawn to one another and made a stronger effort to resolve conflict. The groups’ commonalities led to trust and camaraderie, allowing the group to thrive. Within our project group, we also had many similarities. All four group members were approximately the same age and were from the same area. We were all part-time MBAs at Weatherhead with full time jobs.
We all had busy schedules and took the time to make this project a priority. We all shared the desire to excel in the class and trusted each other on being well prepared for all meetings. We were productive during our meetings and learned a lot about each other’s personalities and learning styles. During the comparison of our interview information, there were many times that team work issues were mentioned, especially around collaboration, consensus, and cooperation. We found that our experiences as a self-managed team were related to “Virtuality and Collaboration in Teams” (Gibson p. 325).
After we had our group formed for the project, we “established similarities across members” (p. 331) by making sure we had a common goal. To improve team member skills in collaboration, Gibson suggested to build “laterality” by becoming familiar with using “round-robin sense-making” where each member takes a turn telling what they know about a particular issue. Our group project greatly benefited by sharing each member’s working experience throughout the project. The group Rachael interviewed worked together on various research projects for many years. This was a team with mutual trust.
As pointed out by Gibson (p. 334), “The development of collective trust is critical yet difficult to establish. ” This research team was very lucky to have this valuable condition for them to work together. One of the key factors turned out to be that members of this group thought of themselves to be very similar to each other. Many of them had similar work experiences in the research field and had similar educational histories. This led them to possess similar skills. This also confirmed Gibson’s theory that “people tend to trust those whom they perceive as similar to themselves.
” (p. 334). Active Experimentation This project taught Ester many things about how to work and to manage a virtual group. Leading a virtual group is a challenging task. A group leader needs to be very careful on walking the fine line between over-management and hands-off. It is critical to find group dynamics by building trust and self-motivation. Ester found that a mutual agreement has to be established at the very beginning. Based on this agreement, the whole group will have a direction for future progress. As a group leader, his/her prime job is not to make decisions for its member.
Instead, he/she should do a good job on motivating its member and on empowering them in the process. 1. Good planning is the key to every success. It is very easy for a project involving members from different backgrounds or from different locations to lose track of everyone’s responsibility. With good planning, members as well as the external leader always keep their eyes on the big picture as a whole. Therefore, the whole project can make steady progress towards the finish line. 2. Motivating team member makes management a much easier task. This is particularly true when managing a virtual group.
Each member of the group needs special attention on his/her efforts contributed to the project. This needs to be recognized frequently with positive feedback. Letting members of the team feel important and appreciated is the daily job of a good leader. 3. Keep the whole project transparent with effective communication. If the project’s progress or member’s problems are not constantly updated on a platform shared by every member, a small mistake can quickly evolve into a major disaster. Failure of communication is often the first sign of failure of the project.
Doing a good job here helps eliminate many problems in the future. Commonality is also very important to any group, no matter what type. Whether it is having common personalities or having a common goal, it is important to share something significant with fellow group members. Along with communication, team work, and organization, having a common interest and goal creates great group dynamics. The key to finding commonalities in a group is sharing your interests and each group member revealing their real personality. If each group member is open and honest, trust builds and camaraderie develops.
Through working on this project, our group realized several commonalities. However, each time, our group met in a formal setting and only discussed the project. To develop our commonalities and friendships further, the group should have met outside of the school setting to experience each other’s personalities in a non-school setting. If we had done this, we would have found out more about our group members’ personalities and most likely found even more commonalities. It is important for groups to experience different settings and experiences, as new commonalities will always appear.
Organizations that are experiencing change need to take into consideration the necessity of promoting healthy dialogue in team settings in order to be effective in meeting the goals of the organization. This includes discouraging homogeneity with in groups, meeting regularly in order to build mutual confidence and familiarity, and to actively manage conflict. This creates frameworks that allows members to know how to interact with each other, prevents member micromanagement, the accountability and trust of one another, and “buy in” of their responsibilities. The following tasks are advised to deal with such issues:
1. Meet together and often 2. Encourage team members to assume all roles needed to make a decision. 3. Apply many minds to the problem and solution 4. Do not let conflict slip by. In the end, as a group we were able to produce the necessary outcome. Much of this was due to our positive group dynamics. However if some of the external factors could have been eliminated, we believe we might have produced a better project. And while our group did work well together due to our similarities, we would try to be aware of the danger that too many similarities can produce.
One recommendation would be to try making a more diverse team. Bringing individuals together based on their different levels of experience and skills could accomplish this. Creating a group based on interest is a simple way to create a group project, but it would have been more interesting to bring together groups that contained more differences among their members. Then there could have been a larger diversity of ideas and more innovation around projects. However we do not believe that this could have been effectively accomplished in our group project situation.
Considering that we experienced a short amount of time within which to produce this project, our commonalities and ability to collaborate effectively were extremely beneficial. Appendix A: Team Evaluation Our team did an excellent job on developing and implementing ideas for group dynamics. We chose conflict management since it was the common problem that each of us wanted to investigate. To achieve shared goal, our group started with a one-hour meeting in person. In the meeting we set our goals and scheduled our individual tasks.
We were very clear at the beginning on what and when we should accomplish at different stages. Integrating our interviews results and preparing the final paper is a challenging task. We were able to overcome this by using the code of conduct we had agreed on to avoid delay and miscommunication. We used emails, phone calls, ecollege to keep every one updated about our own tasks progress. We met in the middle of the process so we know where we fit in the big picture. Another challenging task was to adapt our materials to the project guidelines. There were times we were not sure if our on-going project meet all requirements.
We accomplished this challenge through formal group meetings and consulting the instructor for feedbacks. In general we were satisfied with our group performance. We delivered expected outcome while enjoyed working together. We learned from each other’s experience and made advancement in teamwork skills. All members made important contributions to the project. We completed our assigned work and provided essential feedback to the group. This created a positive group dynamics that motivated us to be creative and productive. During our final group meeting, we assessed our group performance to the original group plan.
We shared our opinions on what we had done well, what we could have done better. We felt that we could have collected more information from our interviews to research thoroughly on our project topic given more time and clearer instructions. Appendix B: Conflict Interview Questions Question to ask a manager: 1. Tell me about a time when you had some team members whom you dislike or with whom you have trouble working. 2. What did you do to make the relationship work so you could succeed for your organization? 3. Do ever encourage debate within your team?