Team Dynamics - Appropriate conflict resolution strategies and styles of behaviour create friendly team atmosphere and enhance team productivity.

Team Dynamics
Appropriate conflict resolution strategies and styles of behaviour create friendly team atmosphere and enhance team productivity.

Abstract
Ability to work as a team member is one of today’s requirements for employees to meet. The task of every manager is to maintain warm atmosphere within the team. Nonetheless, it is not as easy as it may seem, because team members have different characters and life outlooks, which often provoke conflicts between team members. Conflicts occur during the process of communication between people, who spend most of their time at work, interacting with authorities or subordinates and socializing with collaborators and partners of the company. In such a tight working schedule people find plenty of reasons to argue with each other. However, nowadays there is considerable lack of elementary knowledge about team conflicts and ways of their peaceful resolution among authorities. Many managers forget about constructive ways of handling conflicts. This research paper sums up conflict resolution strategies, which not only solve disputes within a team, but also enhance team productivity. Besides, this research indicates differences between various types of conflicts, which require certain resolution strategies.


Sociologists have developed a vast variety of recommendations, which concern different aspects of behaviour in conflict situations and help people choose suitable strategies for their resolution. It is necessary to say that a constructive conflict resolution depends on the following factors:
? Adequate apprehension of a conflict and unbiased appraisal of personal intentions.
? Effective mixing with people and readiness to solve problems or propose certain conflict resolutions.
? Atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation.
? Understanding of the gist of the problem.
The most acceptable conflict resolution strategies demonstrate that there are five basic styles of behaviour: conformism, compromise, mutually beneficial cooperation, defiance and competition. The style of behavior in a definite conflict situation depends on person’s desire to assert their own rights by acting passively or actively, and satisfy interests of opponents by acting jointly or individually. It is important to make a detailed analysis of all the styles.
Competition
A person who possesses strong will and authority and strives for satisfaction of personal interests may choose this style. Nevertheless, a person should take into account that this style does not arouse any other feelings except estrangement. It is also not advisable to compete in case you do not possess enough authority.
Mutually beneficial cooperation
People, who have to take into consideration certain desires of opponents in order to achieve their own goals, can use this style. Such behaviour requires ability to sustain emotions and pay attention to what other people think. Many researchers emphasize that conflicts do not exist without emotions, but all people involved in a conflict should try to suppress negative emotions (Jones, 2001).
Compromise
This style is acceptable when people try to settle dispute by making mutual concessions. In this regard, it is quite similar to the style of mutually beneficial cooperation. However, a person usually applies this style on a more superficial level in comparison with cooperation. This style is considered the most effective, because on the one hand, both opponents try to attain the same thing, and on the other hand, they are aware that they will not accomplish success simultaneously. One of them has to make certain concessions. This style helps enhance the team performance and prevent serious conflicts (Conflict & Cooperation in the Workplace – Is Conflict Bad, 2004). For example, if two members of the team would like to take up the same position, they must understand that they cannot completely fulfill their ambitions. They should come to a mutually beneficial decision, which would satisfy both of them.
Defiance
A person is likely to choose this style of behaviour, if the problem is of minor importance, and there is no need to assert personal rights. Defiance is also recommended in those cases, when the opinion of the opponent carries great weight with authorities and it is groundless to dispute with them. This style, however, will not enhance team effectiveness. It will only suppress the conflict, but not solve it.
Conformism
Finally, the style of conformism implies that a person cooperates with their opponents, not attempting to defend their own interests. In relationship to the team dynamics, the style of conformism can maintain friendly atmosphere within the team, although a person has to sacrifice their own interests to the benefit of their colleagues.

Mediation
It is hard to say what resolution strategy is most suitable for all possible conflict situations. However, it is important to know what style of behaviour to choose according to the circumstances. As has been mentioned, not only directly involved people can attempt to solve the conflict. Mediator can also aid in problem solving. This conflict resolution strategy is widely used in the United States for different purposes. It aids in solving interpersonal disputes between collaborators. Mediators often accomplish the task of problem solving with greater success, than representatives of opposite parties. Moreover, a mediator can help team members avoid disgracing themselves. Mediation creates a curious psychological situation: if it is necessary to make concessions, opponents will address their mediator, avoiding interpersonal contact. In this way, the participants of the conflict express their readiness to cooperate with each other.
However, if a team leader wants to maintain effective functioning of the team and enhance its performance, it is not advisable to get involved into various internal conflicts, taking up the position of one or another party. The most reasonable way out is to maintain a neutral position. Nonetheless, the chief manager should avoid being too indifferent to what is going on in their team, because it makes the organizational process uncontrollable (Gahr, Mosca & Sarsar, 1995). The chief manager should at least create an impression that he is interested in interpersonal conflicts between their subordinates. Thus, the chief manager will play the role of a mediator. A manager must be capable to make a final authoritative decision. A successful realization of mediator’s duties will maintain friendly atmosphere and enhance team productivity. Mediation teaches collaborators to resolve conflicts on their own and avoid them in future. Avoidance strategy is acceptable in a great number of situations, though sometimes it is better to have a clear understanding of certain conflict situation. The most important thing is to learn from negatives. The very meaning of conflict resolution strategies is to help people learn from their own mistakes to prevent future conflicts. In this regard, negative experience can be very useful. Besides, people should know possible reasons of conflicts to be able to choose an appropriate style of behaviour.

Role conflicts resolution strategies
All team members have a number of expected behavioral stereotypes, which define their roles in the organization. These roles help analyze conflicts between collaborators. A conflict occurs when workers are dissatisfied with their roles, or when they fail to fulfill their role duties. These may be conflicts between the chief manager and the subordinates, or interpersonal disputes between collaborators. A situation when a person wants promotion to a higher position belongs to the category of role conflicts. It should be mentioned that high level of role conflicts leads to low job satisfaction and reduces team productivity. That is why company authorities should make sure that they understand true causes of certain role conflict. The choice of resolution strategies depends on the gist of the problem. Finally, it is common knowledge that people work more effectively if they realize their roles and understand perfectly well, what is expected of them.

Process conflicts
Unfair division of duties between team members causes process conflicts. The most acceptable strategy for such conflict is compromise. Managers must fairly distribute responsibilities, so as not to give unpleasant assignments to one person all the time. It is recommended to give assignments to the whole team. It will allow team members to distribute tasks among themselves according to their preferences, and it will surely prevent unnecessary conflicts and job dissatisfaction.

Constructive and destructive conflicts
A constructive conflict occurs when opponents exceed the limits of ethic norms and reasonable arguments. Such conflict originates from disadvantages of management. The resolution of the conflict strengthens the relationships within the team and palpably increases the team productivity.
Destructive conflicts, however, occur when one of the opponents firmly maintains that he is right and disregards interests of other people. Destructive conflicts cause dissatisfaction with job and team collaboration. It negatively influences the effectiveness in the organization. These conflicts are very hard to solve, especially if they involve managers and other authorities. It is hard to work in an organization, where authorities approach team members with aggression or indifference. These are often personalized conflicts, based on negative emotions towards opponents. It is almost impossible to solve the problem if people express negative feelings to each other and are not interested in the conflict resolution. That is why the only resolution strategy in this case is conversion of personalized conflict into substantive one. It will eliminate groundless accusations and improve the atmosphere that exists within the team.

Vertical and horizontal conflicts
To understand the problem it is necessary to distinguish vertical and horizontal conflicts. The first type occurs between people of different hierarchical levels, while the second type involves people of the same level. Participants of vertical conflict often choose avoidance strategy, being afraid to contradict people of higher hierarchical level (Brewer, Mitchell & Weber, 2002). The resolution strategy for vertical conflicts is fair treatment of subordinates. Fair resolution of conflicts improves relationships between people within the team, who will be satisfied with the results of the dispute. Before choosing one or another conflict resolution strategy, it is important to understand what type of conflict the team is dealing with. For example, if two workers argue about creative ideas, the conflict is most likely to be substantive. In order to maintain good relationships within the team, it is recommended not to defend own ideas too desperately (Robinson, 2004). Though sometimes it may be beneficial, in most cases it shows disregard to other people’s opinion. People should not forget that if they want to get respect, they must give some respect too. To form a true notion of the conflict, opponents should determine each other’s purposes and behavioral peculiarities.

Conclusion
There are many conflict resolution strategies, which help maintain a friendly atmosphere in the team. Conflicts may be both positive and negative, depending on the circumstances. Conflicts often lead to new ideas and improve organizational process (Bowditch & Buono, 1997). Teamwork has many challenges, but the results of such work surely outweigh any troubles. It is important to understand that conflicts are not as negative as they may seem at first. In many cases, people learn to listen to each other’s opinions, make concessions, find compromise and defend personal interests. Positive conflicts concern only purposes, values and interests, and do not contradict generally accepted norms of behaviour within the team. That is why positive conflicts improve organization functioning. This research shows the meaning of conflict resolution strategies and the importance to convert destructive conflicts into constructive ones.

References
Bowditch, J. L., Buono, A. F. (1997). A Primer on Organizational Behavior (fourth Ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Brewer, N., Mitchell, P. & Weber, N. (2002). “Gender Role, Organizational status, and Conflict Management Styles, International Journal of Conflict Management”, Vol. 13 ?1.
Capozzoli, T. K. (1995, December). “Conflict Resolution - a Key Ingredient in Successful Teams”. Supervision.
Conflict & Cooperation in the Workplace – Is Conflict Bad? (2006). Canada: Bacal & Associates. Retrieved August 24, 2007, from
http://www.work911.com/conflict/carticles/conflict.htm
Jones, T. S. (2001). Emotional Communication and Conflict: Essence and Impact.
In W. Eadie & P. Nelson (Eds.), the Language of Conflict and Resolution. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Robinson, D. K. (2004). Dealing with Creative Conflict within a Team. Retrieved August 24, 2007, from http://www.7nights.com/asterisk/archive/2004/08/creative-conflict-team