Building an Effective Team

in Conflict

TEAM CONCEPT

Individuals coming together to form a team lead to exceptional outcomes! Successful teams spend time getting to know each other; strengths, experiences, areas of challenge, passions, habits, mannerisms, goals, values and preferences for communicating, thinking and working to name just a few. Our ability to build positive relationships with each other leads to greater understanding and a higher level of trust.

Key Points:
1. Spend time getting to know each other on a deeper level (social, non-work related activities can be great strategies for team building).
2. Understand your contribution as an individual and consider how you contribute to your business positively on a daily basis.

BENEFITS OF WORKING AS A TEAM

There are six key benefits to working effectively as a team.
1. Collaboration: people wanting to work well together, identifying with the team
2. Communication: ability for information to flow in all directions
3. Application of Skills and Resources: individuals bringing and having opportunity to use and further develop their strengths
4. Decisions and Solutions: enhanced creativity with ideas leading to more effective outcomes
5. Commitment: people who feel empowered over decisions have a greater tendency to be committed and carry out the work required to achieve goals
6. Quality: concern for achieving accuracy and quality because of the feeling of personal ownership

ARE YOU FULLY ACHIEVING THE BENEFITS ON YOUR TEAM?

WHO PLAYS ON YOUR TEAM?

Every business has an organizational structure. No matter what you call your teams, each have roles and responsibilities which contribute to the organization meeting its' mandate. We do not work in isolation of other areas. Key to our success is recognizing how much we rely on each other day-to-day, respecting and seeking to understand what is going on with other teams and individuals. At times we may feel like there is a lack of service and "if they would only do their job it wouldn't affect us so negatively". If you can relate to this, seek first to understand. Are they going through staff turnover, have they simply made a mistake and forgotten to communicate, do they understand the process required (have you communicated effectively to them), etc. What is the barrier and how can you support versus judge?

Key Points:
1. Everyone relies on each other.
2. Our ability to engage the external customer depends on the effectiveness of internal players working together.
3. Seek first to understand.

Communication is defined as "transmit or pass on (information) by speaking, writing or other means". We communicate every moment through words, tone of voice and body language. A frown, rolling eyes, smile, confused look or crossed arms are just a few ways we share our feelings and thoughts without ever saying a word. Face to face, memos, phone, radio and e-mail are a few mediums used to express ourselves and share information. One key skill required of effective team members is climate. Climate consists of every team member communicating and treating each other with respect and trust. Team members must feel safe being open and honest without a feeling of repercussion, negative conflict or backstabbing. Three critical elements related to team communication (climate) are:

1. Be willing and able to communicate in ways that build openness, trust and respect.
2. Provide each other with feedback about performance (never as a joke).
3. Build each other up.

UNDERSTANDING INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION

Communication is a skill we improve with practice. Consider these strategies.

Seek to Understand
Everyone has a different preference or style of communication. Some prefer to deal with people face to face; others enjoy the advantages of e-mail. Some like facts and detail; others prefer to deal with emotions. The point is we are all different. Effective communicators recognize their personal preference and take time to understand preferences of others. They respect differences and recognize effectiveness comes from a willingness to adapt.

Example: I need to communicate with a co-worker who likes to ask questions and prefers face to face. My preference is facts with e-mail my preferred medium. My communication objective is ensuring my co-worker understands a new procedure. Respecting my preference and his, I adapt by sending an e-mail outlining the procedure with a request to meet face to face as his opportunity to ask questions. Effectiveness occurs when everyone takes a mindset of seek to understand the other. We demonstrate respect for differences while valuing our uniqueness.

CONSIDER SOMEONE ON YOUR TEAM YOU ARE NOT AS EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATING WITH. MAYBE YOU SIMPLY HAVE DIFFERENT PREFERENCES. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.

Dare to Step Out
We present and receive information about others and ourselves all of the time. Sometimes we choose to be completely open, other times we choose to keep information to ourselves (I.e., avoiding gossip, feeling uncomfortable to share until we know the other better, not wanting to hurt someone, withholding as a form of control, etc.). Performing teams work to move each member to a place where free and open exchange of information occurs. An increase in trust occurs as more information, particularly personally relevant information that each party finds useful, is shared.

ARE THERE AREAS WHERE YOU ARE HOLDING BACK INFORMATION WHERE SHARING WOULD HAVE A POSITIVE BENEFIT FOR THE TEAM?

Say It With Respect
The final strategy relates to how you say it. Respect is transmitted through assertive-responsive communication. This means sharing your thoughts and feelings about a subject, while asking questions to engage the other person to also share his thoughts and feelings. If you are communicating on a subject where there is disagreement, it means sharing how your behaviour might be affecting the relationship and what you are and are not prepared to do about it, and, asking the same of the other person.

Commitment is about shared leadership on a team and creating a sense of ownership. Team members have voices of equal strength, however, in some circumstances some members may have more influence than others due to particular skills or experience.

Commitment is directly associated with cohesiveness; the glue that holds a team together. In order to be committed one must first understand and buy into what a team is in place to do and how that team functions. A team may define its' way of functioning as valuing honesty, going to a person directly with problems, hard work, appreciating each other's contributions, etc.

Commitment is not just showing up for work on time and performing the basic duties of your role. Performing team members understand their actions and behaviours affect the overall team and the "bar of performance" is set at the lowest common denominator. When you are passionate about your team achieving its' best, you take respectful ownership and accountability to share areas that are holding the team back (whether it is with a peer or overall), offer solutions and are present in every moment to prevent missed opportunities.

1. What is your team in place to do for your business?
2. How does your team function? Do you have values and standards every member of the team understands and buys into?

CONSENSUS

Consensus is a skill enabling achievement of enhanced creativity with ideas to generate better outcomes, increased feeling of ownership (commitment) and empowerment. It is defined as "agreement to support a decision 100% in its' implementation". It is NOT the loudest or first voice on a team or the easiest decision. It is all players contributing and building off of each other. It is acknowledging and respectfully challenging contributions and being able to walk away with a decision made saying "this may not be what I thought should occur, but I recognize the process, understand this is the best decision and will support it 100%".

1. Building skills in consensus enables teams to solve problems and make decisions.
2. Using a team approach to problem solving and decision-making stimulates new and creative ideas and strengthens commitment.

ON A PERFORMING TEAM, THERE ARE NO SPECTATORS - EVERYONE PLAYS THE GAME!

CONFLICT

When you hear the word conflict, do you immediately shy away or think negatively? Conflict is defined as "a fight, a contest, strife, quarrel, emotional disturbance, to be at variance, to clash with, to struggle". It is no doubt that our first reaction isn't expectant or excited!

Conflict can be healthy. Even in relationships, there are times when disagreements occur. The performing team is made up of individuals who recognize who they are, what their collective goal is and how they are going to get there. They are engaged in a type of relationship and therefore times of disagreement are bound to occur. In fact, high performance teams recognize the value and growth capable of occurring on a team with healthy conflict. Conquer conflict to:
Energize
Examine new ideas, explore viewpoints and perceptions
Make decisions


Energize
Teams can get into a rut, to get comfortable with the current way of doing things. Healthy conflict can stir new visions or strategies, can lead to effective change or simply create an opportunity for team members to reflect on areas where personal contributions are no longer at performing.

Examine New Ideas, Explore Viewpoints and Perceptions
Have you ever been part of a discussion where someone seemed to dominate the conversation or heard the response "yes, but"? Healthy conflict in teams is demonstrated when members can positively challenge each others' ideas, build off each other, use creative brainstorming, actively listen without interrupting and seek to understand viewpoints. Next time you want to react with "we can't do that, yes but" or think negative thoughts, challenge yourself to change your mental talk: "how might we, yes and, let's explore that thought..."

Make Decisions
How does your team naturally make decisions? Is it the loudest voice wins, the first suggestion or the easiest decision? Performing teams are not afraid to be innovative, take risks and be leaders. They deal with tough stuff head-on and positively challenge the status quo. In the end, they come to consensus on the best decision and move ahead in a unified manner.

Here are tips to remember:
Be open and receptive to differing points of view.

Conflict is about issues, not personalities.

Search for alternatives and have a "what can we do" attitude.

Be present-oriented (it is not about digging up the past or throwing in everything under the kitchen sink).

Use the power of groupthink to create solutions.

Use "I" language to reduce the feeling of defensiveness and finger-pointing, occurring when we use the word "you".

Validate people's feelings and expect them to do the same for yours.

Use assertive-responsive communication.

ON A PERFORMING TEAM, CONFLICT IS CONSIDERED NATURAL WITH TEAM MEMBERS SKILLED IN ACHIEVING HEALTHY RESOLUTION!

CHALLENGE:

UNRESOLVED ISSUES OR SOLUTIONS ARE LIKE AN UNTREATED DISEASE. THEY FESTER, GROW AND INFILTRATE THE ENTIRE TEAM DYNAMIC, CREATING BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE. DO YOU HAVE UNRESOLVED ISSUES YOU HOPE WILL JUST GO AWAY? TACKLE THEM HEAD-ON SEEKING WIN-WIN!

WHAT IS CHANGE?

Moving from the predictable present (known and comfortable - may be effective or ineffective) to the fantastic future (unknown and therefore uncomfortable).

EFFECTIVE CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Here is some food for thought (and action) related to change:
1. Recognize CHANGE WILL OCCUR.

2. Identify individuals have different PREFERENCES for change. Here are four types of individuals:

Change catalysts: seek change and are quick to see the fantastic future.

Change supporters: ability to recognize the value of change and support its implementation.

Change neutral: take it or leave it.

Change resisters: why can't things stay the same?

A performing team doesn't strive to create change catalysts out of everyone but recognizes these preferences and the positive contribution each can make.

3. Identify individuals have different SKILL SETS. Performing teams are able to R.E.A.D. change (receptive, evaluative, adaptable and dedicated). Seek strategies to build skills.

4. Recognize the change process contains STAGES OF GRIEF. Individuals will move through the six stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, hope) differently depending on their perception of what they might be "giving up" as a result of the change, and their change preferences. Performing teams create strategies to recognize the stage a fellow team player is experiencing and to effectively move all players to the stage of hope.

5. Change requires PLANNING. To assist preferences, skills and stages, the change management process should include asking and answering who, what, when, why, where and how questions before, during AND after. Communication is key - open, variety of mediums, often, including follow up.

6. Finally, change requires a period of STABILITY. The process of change includes a period of stress or activity followed by a required period to recover, to build, restore and prepare.

CHALLENGES:
WHAT CHANGE(S) ARE YOU EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW? HOW CAN YOU EMPLOY EFFECTIVE CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES?

HAVE YOU BUILT IN A PERIOD OF STABILITY?

Author Box
Jayne Kowal has 1 articles online

Jayne Kowal, Director/Owner of Customer Service Works
http://www.customerserviceworks.com

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This article was published on 2010/03/26