There are many things that could cause conflicts among team members. In most cases, conflicts arise from the approach that leaders take to solving problems. In his article ‘Getting Beyond Blame in Your Practice’, Manoj Pawar presents one of the most prevalent reasons that cause problems among team members. He does so by presenting a case in which the leader of a physicians team addressed the physicians regarding how patient access could be improved. However, there was a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling after the meeting, which constituted a major conflict. According to Pawar (2007), the conflict arose from the way the leader presented the data on the subject matter. He writes that the leader came prepared with ‘ammunition’ data that was geared towards ‘blaming’ the professionals for their misdeeds regarding appointment durations and times. Although the concerns may have been genuine, the mode of presentation made the employees defensive.
Although most people view conflicts as always negative, Flanagan and Runde (2009) suggest that conflicts are also opportunities for leaders. According to the two authors, team leaders should always anticipate conflict. This could be achieved through various ways. First, team leaders should facilitate the process of goal-setting. Second, they should come up with norms to be followed in the achievement of the said goals. Third, they should come up with mechanisms of solving some of the possible conflicts in the process of goals achievement. In times of conflict, leaders should take it as an opportunity to achieve better communication and move forward. Most importantly, conflicts within teams must advance the learning process for continuous improvement.
Why Was Communication Important to Resolving the Conflict?
Communication is an important tool in resolving any kinds of conflicts. Pawar (2007) writes that blame emanates from emotions. Therefore, it means that if people are not emotionally provoked, they are not likely to overreact; in the same way, if persons are able to contain their emotions, they are able to communicate effectively. Furthermore, effective communication is the key to solving a major conflict. Pawar advises that instead of asking “Who did this?”, “What part of the process contributed to this?” would produce better results. The former question would lead to self-defense on the part of whoever is asked the question. In solving the conflict within the team, the leader should have applied the question “What is happening?”. This leads to identifying the root cause of the observable phenomenon, as opposed to blaming physicians for something they were not responsible for. For instance, if the physicians are always frustrated while working, asking the above question would perhaps lead to the realization of the fact that the physicians did not always get enough supplies.
In most cases, effective communication lies in the ability of the people to suspend their emotions and clear any assumptions. This should always be followed by collaboration with others where self-interests are put aside for the sake of the common good. According to Guttman (2005), there is a need for team members to partner with each other in dealing with issues that affect them. During this process, there is a need for each party to be conscious of the non-verbal signs of appreciation or disgust on the part of the other person. Once team members partner, they are able to deliver better results for the company. This, according to Guttman, could lead to promotion to higher ranks. However, reward should not be the only motivation to do the right thing at work. It has been shown that to achieve harmonious teams, there should be a primary goal.