Team Conflict

QUESTION? Why do conflicts arise in a virtual team?

Conflict occurs in teams for many different reasons. Whether the team struggles with who’s in charge, a lazy teammate, individuals trying to get off task, a change in direction, or even not meeting deadlines, conflict occurs. In the end most conflicts that arise can be boiled down to due to two types of conflict.

Cognitive conflict involves problems with ideas, principles, issues, or even processes. A cognitive conflict is more targeted at the task and how it is accomplished. The other type of conflict is affective, which focuses on people, values and emotions. This type of conflict is directly linked to personal and the different personalities and background.

Most of the time poor communication is a cognitive conflict. When things are unclear as far as, goals, delegation, expectation, deadlines, quality, and even concept, a team will fall into conflict because of the lack of communication. To avoid this it is important for everyone to ask questions, and take time to make sure everyone is on the same page. It may also be wise to over communicate and have critical items in writing more than once. In the virtual environment it is even more difficult as there is not the visual cues to reinforce what is being said. Also technology does sometimes fail, and critical messages may never actually make it to their recipients.

Having unrealistic expectations is of an affective type of conflict. This is especially true when members of the team may not have as much experience or talent as they claim. Emotions run wild when teammates cannot meet expectations. Individuals in the team may become disappointed in coordinator, and try to take control of the team themselves. In contrast a coordinator my not be satisfied with the work of the finisher and create conflict with trying to improve the quality. Another issue almost every team experiences in this area, is when some members may not commit the same amount of time and effort other team members feel should be given. The conflict arises as the over achiever is irritated at the slacker and the slacker is annoyed at the push of the over achiever.

What ever the conflict is it is important to try to repair the breakdown, to make the unit function more effectively and not a repeating incident. Conflicts can either be resolved constructively or destructively. A constructive resolution would show growth and change from the conflict. It actually fixes a problem and the team is stronger because of the conflict. A deconstructive resolution is the worst way to resolve a conflict as no resolution is reached. It then divides and team and breaks down team moral. It drains the team of energy and vision.

AIO Lecture Week1