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Conflict Resolution Strategies in a Learning Team

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Thesis statement

Teams will experience conflicts from time to time.  Team members should stay focused to the overall goal of the team.  Competing and avoiding strategies will not solve team conflicts while collaboration, compromise and accommodation will not only solve team conflicts but will also strengthen the relationship between team members.

Introduction

There are many advantages and challenges of working as a team in learning environment.  There is no man who is an island and even when you feel that you are competent, there is an extent to which you will need to work with others either for your benefit or for the benefit of the team members. Learning teams are important in as they prepare us to accomplish a task as a team later in our careers or even in the immediate learning environment. Learning teams are usually given a task to accomplish same as working team is given project to complete.  Learning teams are important since they prepare individuals for the challenges that would be faced later in the course of their life.  However, like any other team, learning teams are faced with conflicts since there are individuals who would be more interested in pursuing their interest instead of team interest. Maintaining team dynamic is very important in order to hold team members together to accomplish the task they have been assigned to.  Therefore effective strategies should be taken towards conflict resolution in any team. Competing and avoiding strategies will not solve team conflicts while collaboration, compromise and accommodation will not only solve team conflicts but will also strengthen the relationship between team members.

Conflict resolution strategies in a Learning Team

A team is a group of individuals who have come together or who have been put together to achieve a certain set goal.  A team is therefore a group of individuals working together to achieve a goal (Academic Leadership support, 2009).  Team dynamics are important since they facilitate learning by doing. For example they can be action based corporate training programs. The most profound results therefore emerge as the team develops effective teamwork, trust and the motivation for all members of the group (Mind Tools, 2009). An effective team doesn’t wait until they perform or wait for things to click when they matters.  They usually practice individual and team skills to accomplish the task at hand.

Team conflict can be latent or overt. Regardless of its status or description, the conflict will always manifest in form of process based conflict as a passive aggressive behavior by one or a section of the team members.  This may be in form of power games, blaming, tardiness, withholding of information, or many other forms.  The way members treat each other when the team is accomplishing a certain task is likely to determine the success or failure of the next task that will be undertaken by the team.  A conflict will always change the expectations for the next task which may alter group interaction, affect members’ satisfaction, and the willingness of the members to contribute to the task proactively.

Conflict resolution in a learning group occurs when the team dynamics for both individuals and non-individual are well understood in terms of their contribution to the team and the important role that they could be playing to hold the team together.  In order to have a clear understanding of what every individual in a team has to offer and the dynamics behind the contribution by each  member comes only when there is increased  sharing of information  within the team (Pree, 2009).  Every member of team must make their contribution and understand that every member of the team is very important. There has to be an understanding that individuals will always hold different opinion from others but this should not nurture conflict but should rather be used to harness the best solution to the problem that the team is addressing.  Empowerment of the team will occur only when each and every member is considered equal and important to the team dynamics.  The difference in opinions within the learning team should be used to list the different solutions that can be used to achieve the goal of the team.

Since there will always be a disagreement in a healthy learning team, the most important thing is for the leadership to discuss with the team members the  form of resistance that they have encountered, what cause the resistance, and the most important strategy that was used by the team to resolve the conflict. This is the foundation for any successful team whether involve in leadership or in academic work (Culberston, 2008).  There are important needs that have to be met within the team for the team to achieve the set goals.  This means that the  first step is for  the team to look into itself   to assess the problem that are face or are likely to be faced and coming up with the best strategy for the team.

To resolve conflict in the teams compromising, accommodation and collaboration are the best strategy. Competing and avoiding team conflicts will not help in resolving the conflict and may hamper the effectiveness of the team since it prevent others from expressing their views.¬† Collaboration is the most important principle since it calls for a win-win situation where all the members of the team serve their interest.¬† Collaboration helps the team to achieve its goals while at the same time maintaining team relationships.¬† The strategic philosophy here is that working through differences is important to achieve creative solutions which satisfy the concerns of both parties. ¬†On the other hand, compromise is based on the basic premise that winning something while at the same time losing is important. This means that everyone in the team bends. The main principle applied here is that¬† both ends or difference are placed in the middle¬† so that the team can have a¬† some¬† ‚Äúcommon ground‚ÄĚ which ensure that every party maintains their original position but the team gains from their¬† agreement.¬† (Culberston, 2008)

Unlike in other relationships where one party may have more interest than the other, learning team members have the same goals.  This means that they have an equal status and they are both committed to the achievement of the goals.  Since the teams are given a time frame within which to accomplish a given task, compromise will most likely save time for the individual and for the team (Shadow, 2008).  The goals set by the team are moderately important to all members and the success of every member in the team relies on the success of the team. This means that they should learn to put team goals ahead of the individual interests.

In instances where one member has more interest than the others, they should learn to accommodate the other (Faculty Club Directory, 2009).   The basic premise here is that working towards achieving a common purpose is superior to other peripheral concerns and advancing self interest at the expense of other members in the team may damage the relationship between the team members.  The strategic philosophy here is that the individual member should learn to appease the team through downplaying the conflict in order to protect the relationships in the team.

Apart from maintaining friendship and cordial relationships in a term, the team should also benefit from the conflicts that occur from time to time and the strategies that are used to resolve those conflicts (Culberston, 2008). The team should always learn new ways to deal with the conflict as they arise and perfect these conflict resolution strategies that work. Teams should have leaders who should have knowledge of the team members and how best to handle differences between them.

Conclusion

A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a set goal.   However it is not always that   there are smooth relationships in a team and there will be conflicts from time to time. Team should have leaders who understand every member in the team, their differences and the best way to handle differences between these members.  Three most important strategies to handle conflicts within a team include collaboration, compromising, and accommodation. Teams should always understand the conflicts they are facing and perfect the strategies that have succeeded in solving those conflicts.

References

Academic Leadership support, (2009). Conflict resolution menu. Retrieved 14th January 2009 from http://www.ohrd.wisc.edu/onlinetraining/resolution/stepsoverview.htm

Culberston, H. (2008). Conflict management strategies and styles. Retrieved 14th January 2009 from http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/conflict.htm

Faculty Club Directory, (2009). Tools and tips for resolving conflict. Retrieved 14th January 2009 from http://www.campus-adr.org/Faculty_Club/tips_faculty.html

Mind Tools, (2009). Conflict resolution. . Retrieved 14th January 2009 fromhttp://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_81.htm

Pree, D. (2009). Group conflict resolution. Retrieved 14th January 2009 from http://www.depree.org/html/whatwedoconflictresolution.html

Shadow, M. (2008). Conflict resolution strategies in college. Retrieved 14th January 2009 from http://www.quazen.com/Kids-and-Teens/College-Life/Conflict-Resolution-Strategies-in-College.229721

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