The business workplace of the new millennium is filled with a wide variety of employees bringing together a myriad of personalities and communication styles. It is not uncommon to see multinational companies bring additional elements of differing cultures into the equation. The creation of such a dynamic workforce will often result in interpersonal conflict stemming from a lack of communication and misunderstanding between employees.
Companies expect a high level of performance despite a high level of interpersonal conflict and a lack of communication between employees. den Otter and Emmitt state (den Otter & Emmitt, 2007) “Developing a common understanding of effective communication in the team and using the most appropriate means for the purpose is a fundamental aspect of team performance.” (pg 408) To be effective a team must be able to communicate with each other and understand the actions of coworkers to work in harmony toward a specified objective.
Conflict arises during the Strong stage of team development. At this stage, the team is defining the group norms and the group leader. While a manager may serve as the leader of the group in title, the group may question their ability to effectively lead the team. In addition to the leader, the team is also prone to challenge the norms set by corporate structure. Without a strong leader having the ability to effectively communicate goals, objectives and norms to the team, conflict may quickly arise.
If the leader has the ability to establish himself as the team leader, other team members may struggle for position within the team. The resolve for this struggle is to provide the team with the tools necessary to communicate effectively with one another. This will also bring understanding between team members. This is significant in understanding of motives as the team is in the storming or developing stage. The leader may attempt to impose communication and understanding, however, den Otter and Emmitt state (den Otter & Emmitt, 2007) “Balancing team communication is a team effort and it would appear that a bottom-up approach to the management of team communication is required to improve effectiveness.” (pg 408) The greater concern for the team leader now turns to effectively creating a bottom-up approach of communication within his team.
It is up to the team leader to bring resolve to the conflict within his team and bring his employees to peak performance. By using team building exercises to increase communication and a better understand of interpersonal communication between members the team leader can effectively improve the teams performance. This type of activity would bring interaction between team members as den Otter and Emmitt state, this is key when they say, (den Otter & Emmitt, 2007) “Interaction is needed for common understanding of communication processes and can also function to stimulate the team's social development.” (pg 408) Interaction on this level can be seen at different times and in different setting as den Otter and Emmitt show by saying, (den Otter & Emmitt, 2007) “To reach these goals, face-to-face communication using dialogues, meetings and workshops are necessary.” (pg 408) As the team members use non-threatening team building activities, they are forced to communicate with each other to complete the activity. As the team members communicate more with their coworker, they learn to communicate more effectively to accomplish the task or to beat teams of other coworkers at completing the task. While this process is occurring, they begin to have a better understanding of their social environment resulting in a better understanding of their coworkers. Finally, den Otter and Emmitt support this resolve by saying, (den Otter & Emmitt, 2007) “With the increased promotion of collaborative working, partnering and integrated teams that rely on effective and efficient communication, there would appear to be an urgent need to better understand the interactions within design and construction teams.” (pg 408)
The reason ambiguous team building challenges work has in large part to do with the dialectic method involved in the solution of the challenge and presentation. In her research of groups solving ambiguous case studies, Harrison-Walker found that, (Harrison-Walker, 2000) “Although logically one might expect the two teams to come up with very similar approaches and decisions, that is rarely the case.” (pg 241) When two teams work diligently toward a solutions they are intrigued that another solution exists. The result is a dialectic discussion. Harrison-Walker goes on to state, (Harrison-Walker, 2000) “for any given case, students are exposed to at least two unique perspectives, reinforcing the contention that there is not one "right" answer, but rather different solutions depending on the priority given to various qualitative and quantitative factors.” (pg 241) The exposure to two different solutions creates dialog between team members resulting in open communication. The open communication brings a better understand of the other team members. Thus, the end result is achieved, better communication and understanding between team members as a result of added element of the dialectic method.
den Otter, A., & Emmitt, S. (2007). Exploring effectiveness of team communication. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 14(5), 408-419.
Harrison-Walker, L. (2000). A comprehensive pedagogy for dialectic team-based marketing management case analysis. Journal of Education for Business, 75(4), 241-245.