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Conflict Management and Effective Communication in Teams

The most critical factors for a successful organization are efficient communication and group dynamics. Effective communication is important because the good relationship between workers and their elderly generates a healthy team spirit and a positive attitude to the job. The organisations consist mainly groups, in order to accomplish the organizational objectives, workers operate as teams. However, the performance of the teams and groups also depends on the kind of management and the kind of power employed by an organization. At XYZ Technologies Limited, a global high-tech companies that operates in China, the U.S.A, Britain, and Japan, with retail outlets across the globe, the key problems that hinder effective communication and functioning of teams include cultural and communication differences, lack of morale to engage in teamwork, and technological equipment challenges. However, such problems can be overcome through such interventions as hiring employees from diverse cultural backgrounds to overcome problems associated with cultural differences, hiring experts in technology to overcome the technological challenges, and rewarding employees and engaging them in the decision-making process to ensure a motivated team.

Effective Communication and Conflict Management in Teams

Introduction

Effective communication in organizations is vital as it boosts the employees’ morale, who feel appreciated because their opinions are considered in the decision-making process and they are informed on the undertakings in the institution. Any organization that has a vision of working globally should train its employees on effective communication, to foster good public relations between employees and their clients by alleviating cultural barriers that lead to relaying of wrong messages among the workforce. This paper explores the major problems that hinder effective communication and cause conflict among employees at XYZ Technologies Limited, which include cultural and communication differences, lack of teamwork and technological equipment challenges; hence, the paper further seeks to identify solutions to the problems through a critical analysis of the key leadership theories, group dynamics and the importance of considering the organization’s internal factors to eliminate the existing challenges.

Leadership theories

Organizations must have leaders that use different leadership styles to succeed in their endeavors. There are several theories that guide the leadership concept, including the behavioral theory, the transformational leadership theory, the transactional leadership theory, the great man theory, trait theory, and contingency theory. The trait leadership theory argues that leaders are born with certain mental, physical and social qualities that make them successful in their leadership (Lussier & Achua, 2015). This however has been greatly criticized because some aspects like physical qualities cannot influence success in leadership. Another theory that argues that leaders are born not made is the Great Man theory. Men were the most successful leaders according to this theory and they came from a loyal class. They had qualities like courage, aggressiveness, and being able to command, which are elements that cannot be learned.

Moreover, transactional leadership emphasizes on the mutual benefit between the leader and the employees, whereby the leader rewards or punishes the employee for mistakes made in the assigned tasks (Lussier & Achua, 2015). This motivates the employees to work extra hard to perfect their strengths and outdo their weaknesses. On the other hand, the transformational leadership theory is characterized by interactions between the employees and their leaders to create trust that later strengthen the team’s relationship hence inspiring each other. Transformational leaders create an exemplary environment for the employees to emulate (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Further, the contingency theory is the most unique in that it claims that there is no best way to lead because the leadership success depends on the internal or external influences. The contingency theory, therefore, argues that leaders should utilize the most appropriate leadership technique according to the needs of the situation at hand.

Furthermore, the behavioral theory of leadership, which is a counter of trait theory that argues that leadership is learned or acquired as opposed to being inborn, defines the leadership behavior approaches (Humphrey, 2013). The behavioral response that a leader learns and acquires in the course of his or her employment determines the mode of his behavior in arising situations hence indicating leadership success or failure. According to the theory, leadership can take two forms, including the task-oriented form, where the leader is concerned with initiating, organizing, and collecting information, or the people oriented form, where the leader is concerned with the satisfaction and comfort of the employees by constantly encouraging, listening and mentoring them (Weller, 2014).

Tuckman’s Four Stages of Group Development Model

Organizations are made up of groups, both formal and informal, which makes it crucial for organizations to take into consideration group needs. According to Bruce Tuckman, there are four major stages of group development in organizations, which include forming, storming, norming, and performing (Waller, 2016). The forming stage is the initial stage where the employees are exited and anxious about the task ahead. Roles of each employees are not clear at this stage, therefore everyone strives to appear polite and at their best because they want to know each other. On the other hand, the storming stage begins when a major conflict arises in the group and in an effort to solve it; more problems arise, leading to stress among some group members. The objective of the team may be overshadowed by the conflict at hand because team members want to participate in solving the conflict while others may despair and give up. Here the leader may experience stress while trying to bring peace and understanding.

Further, the norming stage comes after the members start paying attention to each other’s ideas and try to come up with the solutions to the conflict at hand. They start appreciating each other’s weaknesses and strengths. At this point, the leader is recognized as the authority and he or she is respected and his ideas taken seriously. The team embarks on working on the objective, they socialize productively, and new ideas come up during this stage. The new ideas however may result to a relapse into the storming stage because some members may want to object these new ideas resulting into a conflict (Waller, 2016). The performing stage has no conflicts, as the team objective is now firmly established and each member is working towards its achievement. The leader has no much work at this stage and can delegate duties. Although group development majorly comprises of the discussed four stages, a fifth stage, adjourning or mourning, may arise where the group is adjourned when a project is completed or due to organizational restructuring. The group members may mourn because they had already established good and strong working relationships; hence, the thought of disengaging in these bonds and forming new ones may scare them.

Group dynamics can be affected by three main factors, which are either environmental, personal, or leadership factors. The external or internal environment in an organization affects teamwork. Personal factors for instance personality and character can make a group stand or disintegrate but the most vital factor in group dynamism is leadership (Oandassan, 2006). The leader is therefore considered as the controller of a team who should ensure the team functions effectively depending on his or her leadership style. Democratic leadership style works well in a team because each member gets to contribute in the goals of the team; hence, appreciating and embracing the goal, which leads to minimal conflicts in the organization.

Importance of internal environmental factors

The internal environmental factors are elements within an organization that affect the way it runs and progresses. They include cultural factors, language, political, and technological differences among others. The culture of employees determines how they behave towards their colleagues and seniors and towards work and how they behave towards their international clients (Weller, Boyd & Cumin, 2014). It is paramount to invest on educating employees on public relations so that they can relate fairly with people from other cultural backgrounds. For instance, an employee has to adapt to the standard way of communication that is formal and acceptable globally. This is vital for the expansion of the business in order to accommodate international employees and clients. Moreover, language is a major barrier to effective communication in global organizations. Organizations should focus on adopting the appropriate language when operating on a global perspective to avoid instances where employees do not understand each other or fail to understand the needs of their clients due to language barriers.

Technological challenges also affect an organization (Baranenko, 2014). For instance, when new ways of production and marketing are implemented, they may affect the organization positively or negatively. Where the technological change is abrupt and there was no sufficient communication during the change, the employees may remain adamant. This will affect productivity and worse still, the organization will not run smoothly hence creating a lot of conflict. On the other hand, technological change can improve an organization’s productivity and cut down production cost but all this has to be done with proper communication and teamwork. Technological equipments to be changed also require the employees to undergo training on using the new ones. All the employees need to embrace the technological changes and also input on the occurring changes where necessary to ensure smooth running of the organization.

Effective communication

Effective communication entails maintenance of an open system of relaying messages between and among the employees and their seniors either verbally or through correspondence and emails. Any information that has to be relayed should be done so in a respectful and convenient manner. An employee with good communication skills can relate well with others hence creating an ideal working environment. In addition, they can relate well with clients from the other parts of the world hence increasing the clients and investors base (Greenaway, 2015). It is therefore correct to say that effective communication is an asset to an organization. Poor communication in an organization creates confusion among the employees. A manager who makes decisions solely in an organization can be met with opposition from the workers who may feel that some decisions are unsuitable. It is therefore advisable to involve the employees in crucial decisions that result to radical changes in the organization so that they can be psychologically prepared for it (Austin, 2015).

Ways to communicate effectively in an organization include holding open meetings where everyone contributes towards the success of the organization and holding one on one conversations with individuals where an employee needs to be corrected or advised on something. Here, the manager has to use the appropriate tone, avoid unnecessary repetition, use gestures, and encourage feedback to know whether the message is understood. Communication can also be carried out in form of training. Resource persons can be invited or the managers themselves can train the employees. The theme should be focused on the message that you need to communicate. The managers also need to listen to the employees and vice versa. This enables the two to clarify unclear issues, solve conflicts, and relate professionally. Effective communication improves the employees’ morale, which in turn improves the productivity in an organization.

Solutions to the Identified Challenges

The major challenges identified at XYZ Technologies Limited include internal crises like lack of teamwork and effective communication that diminishes employees’ morale and cultural differences and technological challenges. Sources of power such as legitimate power, expert power, referent power, coercive power and reward power can be applied to solve these challenges. Where employees are selfish and unwilling to work as a team, legitimate and coercive power can be used on the uncooperative members. The employees should report the progress of the assigned task to their leader and the defiant members should be punished by reprimanding or being suspended. Referent power can also apply whereby charismatic leaders can be appointed to steer the group whose members will follow due to admiration and respect for them. Employees’ morale on the other hand can be alleviated by reward power. The employees that improve their productivity can be rewarded by salary increments and promotions. Technological challenges can be solved by expert power. The people with expertise in certain technological issues can assist those with challenges; hence, ensuring smooth running of the institution. Moreover, the company should consider hiring technology experts to overcome the current challenges experienced at the company. On the other hand, the company can overcome cultural challenges by hiring a culturally diverse team, which would lead to an environment where employees value and appreciate each other’s cultural backgrounds and values.

Conclusion

For any organization to be successful there must be an effective communication system. This will boost the team’s morale because once they are involved in the organization’s decision-making process; they will work towards the common goal. Furthermore, organizations should invest on training their employees on effective communication for good public relations with international employees and clients. Teamwork is also very essential for high productivity and faster accomplishment of goals in any organization. Moreover, investing in a culturally diverse team is crucial in overcoming cultural challenges that arise in organizations.

References

Austin, E. W., & Pinkleton, B. E. (2015). Strategic Public Relations Management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns(Vol. 10). Routledge.

Baranenko, S. P., Dudin, M. N., Lyasnikov, N. V., & Busygin, K. D. (2014). Use of environmental approach to innovation-oriented development of industrial enterprises.

Greenaway, K. H., Wright, R. G., Willingham, J., Reynolds, K. J., & Haslam, S. A. (2015). Shared identity is key to effective communication. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(2), 171-182.

Humphrey, R. H. (2013). Effective leadership: Theory, cases, and applications. SAGE Publications.

Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2015). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. Nelson Education.

Oandasan, I. (2006). Teamwork and healthy workplaces: strengthening the links for deliberation and action through research and policy. Healthcare Papers, 7, 98-103.

Waller, M. J., Okhuysen, G. A., & Saghafian, M. (2016). Conceptualizing emergent states: A strategy to advance the study of group dynamics. The Academy Of Management Annals, 10(1), 561-598.

Weller, J., Boyd, M., & Cumin, D. (2014). Teams, tribes and patient safety: overcoming barriers to effective teamwork in healthcare. Postgraduate medical journal, 90(1061), 149-154.

July 24, 2021

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