Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Five Reasons Why Team Communications Can Deteriorate

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groupconflict

Since leaders are dealing with individual personalities in the team environment, it is unrealistic to expect that communication will never break down. Even within the most effective and efficient team environment, issues and situations will arise that will cause an entire breakdown of team communication.

The breakdown of communication in the team environment often occurs when trust and respect are diminished or ignored by individual team members. Breakdowns also occur when chronic conflict has not been resolved within the team.

Another source of communication breakdown is when team members feel their personal interests are stronger than the needs and identity of the team. These individuals are motivated by their personal desires and will do anything to achieve them, including disrupting the team environment.

It is important for leaders to recognize that communication breakdowns will occur within the team environment. In the early stages of team growth, communication problems and breakdowns are more frequent, as individuals struggle to obtain position and retain power in a new and changing environment. However, in more mature and structured teams, leaders will find that the team itself will deal with the communication problem according to its defined boundaries, rules and standards.

Leaders should be aware that a breakdown in communication can have long-term ramifications on the structure and effectiveness of the team. Therefore, it is important for them to recognize potential problems and the symptoms in order to anticipate issues, such as those discussed below, before they occur.

Loss of Trust and Respect

If leaders allow problems to fester and lead to a breakdown of team communication, they will experience a corresponding breakdown of trust and respect among team members that can be difficult, if not impossible, to restore. These circumstances can be fatal to the team and might require the formation of a new team in order to overcome them. Broken trust requires prolonged periods of time to be reestablished. Leaders need to be aware of this and take appropriate action to reduce the occurrence of chronic problems that can result in the loss of trust and respect among team members.

Hindered Free-Flow of Ideas

Once communication has broken down among team members, leaders will observe that discussions become more emotional and subjective rather than objective and factual. When discussions are based on emotion rather than fact, brainstorming will diminish to the point that there is no free-flow of ideas among team members. This effectively halts the team process until the issues causing the breakdowns are dealt with.

Intimidation

Leaders who experience a breakdown of communication observe that certain members will attempt to take control of the team process, subjugating the team to their personal agendas and perspectives. Once done, these individuals will use emotional responses to intimidate other team members into accepting their points of view. This is where the bonds of trust and respect among team members can be broken. The communication breakdown destroys the team structure and subjects it to the will of one or more members.

Bias

Once the breakdown of communication has led to the destruction of the team order by one or more team members, a specific bias is created that supports the personal agendas of these individuals. When members allow the team process to be subverted by particular individuals, they undermine the entire team effort.

Faulty Decision Making

The breakdown of communication in the team environment inevitably leads to faulty decision making. Specific biases that hinder the free-flow of ideas prevent teams from considering all options and alternatives when making decisions. Consequently, decisions are impacted by the biases of the specific individuals controlling the team. In these circumstances, decision making and outcomes will be flawed.

Individuals who have hijacked the team process will use the team environment as a cover to mask their activities when decisions produce faulty results. As they do not want to be held accountable for their behaviors and actions, they will place blame for the decision on the team environment.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:
 
How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a TeamThe Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Empowerment Is Not Synonymous With Surrender

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smallgroup12

The maintenance of team strength requires ongoing leadership diligence and interaction. If leaders fail to pay attention to what is happening within the team culture and environment, it is easy to stumble into several pitfalls. Many major problems can be avoided by structured attentiveness.

It is easy for leaders to begin surrendering their personal authority as they actively work to empower team members. Many assume that individual teams are automatically able to meet the responsibilities assigned to them – thus making their jobs and workloads much lighter. When this belief takes hold, it is easy for leaders to assume that their responsibilities are being effectively handled. Because of it, they generally tend to miss the undercurrents and interactions that work to undermine team strength and productivity.

Because leaders understand that empowerment is not synonymous with surrender, they play an active, ongoing role in guiding and directing the actions of their individual teams. The roles and responsibilities of individual leaders are not subjugated to their teams. Rather, teams become a mechanism for leaders to be more effective within their organization and more productive in what they need to achieve within shorter periods of time.

There are a number of common pitfalls leaders can stumble into as they develop and build their teams.

Lack of Solid Team Structure

Leaders must ensure that their teams have a solid structure in place. This includes all team members having a clear and concise understanding of their roles and responsibilities. It also includes development of and adherence to the norms, rules and boundaries established during the team’s formation. Once a particular team has been established, a primary leadership responsibility is to make sure that the team adheres to its overall structure.

Not Being Observant

Within the team structure, leaders need to take a hands-off stance in regard to team matters and discussions in order to actively and impartially observe what is occurring. This enables them to be vigilant concerning internal team conflict, dominant personalities and other issues that can impact an individual team’s productivity, strength and performance. Leaders cannot assume that effective team management occurs automatically within the team growth and development process. Specific attention needs to be paid to all details when any negative occurrences take place.

Allowing or Minimizing Disruptive Team Behaviors

Leaders must understand that the team culture has a specific structure that guides and directs its progress and functioning. Specific roles must be assigned to maintain this structure for an adherence to the rules, boundaries and regulations that a particular team collectively develops.

One common pitfall many leaders stumble into involves allowing individual disruptive behaviors to continue to the point where they actively hamper the team’s progress. The acceptance of disruptive behaviors by leaders and other members can undermine overall team strength, as they have a tendency to intimidate less assertive participants into silence. Leaders must be vigilant for specific behaviors that inhibit the free-flow of ideas, thoughts and feedback within the team culture.

A Failure to Intervene

One of the team leader’s major responsibilities is to intervene whenever required to eliminate disruptive behaviors or any other barriers that negatively impact the entire team process. When they tend to overlook specific performance-inhibiting behaviors, they are ultimately undermining team strength. It is up to team leaders to take increasingly stern measures when intervening within the team environment. These measures often start with intervention in the group setting itself; if this proves ineffective, personal intervention with the offending member(s) must be undertaken.

Displaying Bias or Favoritism

It is easy for leaders familiar with the capabilities of individual team members to display favoritism toward one member over another. However, any open display of bias will automatically cause other team members to be less open in expressing their concerns, feedback and input. Biases and favoritism have the tendency to create a situation where specific team members become dominant, which, because of their power and influence, can result in the assertion of personal agendas and overall conflict.

Not Allowing Teams to Adequately Develop and Police Themselves

It is easy for leaders, especially within a new team environment, to assume total control over the team process. They feel that it is faster and more productive to “tell and instruct” the team in what to do than allow it to develop and chart its own course.

A team learns best when it grows through its mistakes and through problems it must solve on its own. It needs to be given the room to brainstorm and create solutions, while having the freedom to police itself when internal problems and conflicts surface due to disruptive behaviors or dominant personalities.

Team strength is developed when members are allowed to work collectively through specific challenging situations and arrive at effective solutions as a result of them.

Excerpt: Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Five Reasons Why Team Communications Can Deteriorate

Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Building Team Roles & Direction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

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manpointing-atemployee

While internal conflict and friction can be healthy for an organization – in that it can channel that energy into creative and innovative solutions – there are times when managers must understand that conflict can be costly, especially if personal interests and agendas are placed above the needs of the organization.

By definition, managers are concerned with the entire organization, not just their own personal spheres of influence. Managers must rise above the desire to attain a power base or advance an agenda. They must direct any conflict resolution toward creating and crafting the best possible solution for the entire organization.

While conflict is healthy in most working environments, there are two general areas where conflict can be damaging and destructive to the entire organization.

Personal Agendas and Perspectives

One of the most problematic areas of conflict resolution is the application of personal agendas and perspectives to conflict resolution. A natural tendency in all individuals, this can cause difficulties if the personal agenda of one or more members of a group overpower the needs of the organization.

This is especially problematic when someone senior to the rest of the group members is advancing their personal agenda. The areas where individual personal agendas can be damaging include:

Biased Assimilation of Information

How a problem or conflict is perceived and defined impacts its resolution. Personal agendas and perceptions can create a bias that adversely affects the definition of the problem and, ultimately, the solution.

This misstep occurs when information and data is received from an external source and processed with a lack of understanding or adequate background information. Additionally, the information can be processed using incorrect assumptions, perceptions or decision making norms to frame the issue; this ultimately impacts the formation of the solution in regard to conclusions and the actions caused by them.

When personal agendas strongly influence a group—either in the form of intimidation or by the use of power over the group—there is a reluctance to question the information and perspectives being presented.

The group assumes a smoothing and avoiding conflict resolution style that allows these differences in opinion and perspective to be both minimized and glossed over. When a wrong decision is made that impacts the organization, the primary influencer can disclaim any exclusive association by pointing out the group nature of the decision. This tactic serves to mask any personal agenda at play, often to extremely destructive effect.

Partisan Perceptions

Research has demonstrated that there is an unconscious tendency in individuals to enhance their own side of a conflict, portraying it as more insightful, honest and morally upright. An associated phenomenon is the tendency to vilify the opposition, portraying them as both unscrupulous and vile.

These two phenomena have dominated research on inter-group relations for over 40 years. In more recent studies, the insidious and involuntary nature of partisan tactics has become more apparent, as it affects the nature of conflict and the specific manners in which the resolution process is undermined.

When applied to the aforementioned concept of biased assimilation of information, it is obvious how conflict intensifies when one group strongly believes in their viewpoints while simultaneously vilifying their opponents.’

Organizations feel the impact as the conflict degenerates into personal battles and animosities that can endure for prolonged periods of time. This partisanship poisons the workplace environment to the point that satisfactory resolution becomes nearly impossible without outside intervention.

Scarce Resources

The other major source of internal conflict within organizations is the battle between groups and departments over the utilization of limited resources. This situation readily surfaces when organizations lack clear direction.

In certain circumstances, larger and more powerful departments are able to dominate this battle and intimidate smaller and less influential groups.

While this “survival of the fittest” confrontation might be considered productive by some members of management, it is ultimately unhealthy and damaging if badly needed resources are diverted away from those areas of the organization most in need of them or from those who can put them to the most productive use.

Related:

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

How Employees Handle Conflict

Conflict Turns Decision Making Upside Down

Excerpt: Conflict Resolution – Pinpoint Management Skill Development Series (Majorium Business Press – Stevens Point, WI, 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

What Does Sound Judgment Have to Do With Decision-Making?

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Managers wishing to build trust and rapport with their employees need to establish sound decision making skills that consistently produce fair and ethical judgments and evaluations.

Managers who consistently make fair and sound decisions and judgments will see their effectiveness and credibility increase. Individual employees and customers will learn that they can rely on the manager to make a fair judgment and evaluation despite the fact that it may not be easy or popular.

When subordinates know they can rely on the equity of their manager’s judgments, trust is strengthened. The personal and professional reputation of the manager thus enhanced, employees will rely on their judgment and be eager to work more closely with them.
Managers must exercise sound judgment in all of their decisions. Effective decision-making plays an important role in the development of good judgment skills. Initially, managers may need to deliberately go though a checklist of key points until they become second nature.

Related: The Importance of Intellectual Honesty

Developing good judgment is based upon the manager’s ability to look at all sides of a problem or issue and to weigh all of the options before a final determination is made. Typically good judgments are:

Fact-Based

Facts form the basis of all sound judgments. While perhaps self-evident, it is all too easy to base judgments upon opinions, assumptions and personal biases.

Before a judgment can be made, managers must take the time to firmly establish the truth of the matter and filter out any opinions, assumptions and biases. When at all possible, facts should be fully documented.

Objective

Sound judgment is based upon an objective evaluation of the facts. Managers must be careful to ensure their emotions, assumptions, expectations, opinions and personal biases do not affect their objectivity. Where possible, managers should step outside of the immediate situation to view the facts from the other person’s perspective and gain objective insights into potential solutions.

Related: The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

Fair and Balanced

Sound judgment requires that all sides and viewpoints be carefully weighed and considered by managers. One pitfall in sound decision making lies in only considering one side of the issue and thereby limiting objectivity with opinions, assumptions or personal biases. When this occurs, the decision is intentionally slanted toward one side of the issue without fully considering other viewpoints and insights.

When managers are focusing on making ethical judgments, they must consider all sides of the issue and make sure the input they are considering is balanced. When balanced facts and viewpoints are objectively evaluated, the manager is able to arrive at a fair judgment.

Related: Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Made When Managers Are Emotionally Stable

Managers must refrain from making determinations and judgments in an emotionally unsettled state of mind. Decisions made when a manager is angry or hostile will be rash and subjective. Before effective and sound judgments can be made, managers must assure that their emotions are in check.

Addressing the Needs of All Parties

Sound judgments and decisions encompass the needs of all individuals involved with and affected by them. The final judgment should be in the best interests of all parties. Even when tough decisions are to be made, the best interests of all involved must be considered. For instance, if a manager must let an employee go due to poor performance, that decision – when based on facts – may be in his or her best interest. The individual may need a wake-up call or just may not have the necessary skills to be successful in their job, in which case it is best they pursue another profession.

Related: Have You Earned Permission to Lead?

Carefully Considering All Options

Sound judgments demand that managers consider all possible options. When a problem or issue is first considered, only one viable option may be apparent; however, effective managers will explore and consider all possible options before a decision is to be made.

Once managers have collected all the facts, viewpoints, insights and options, they need to take the time to thoroughly consider all aspects of the problem or issue before a final judgment is made.

Fully Assessing Risks

Effective managers fully assess all the risks associated with their decisions and judgments. They are not risk-averse, but instead weigh all facts and make their decisions based upon the judgment yielding the lowest risk and biggest payoff.

Excerpt: Ethics and Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

August 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

Adapt or Be Bypassed

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In the face of overwhelming change, it is often difficult to predict the future with any certainty. Managers must have the flexibility to adapt to change and harness its forces to their advantage. In many cases the results of such an upheaval cause a shift in both thinking and actions. While this process can be difficult for some managers to adjust to, one thing is certain: they can either adapt or be bypassed. Market and business conditions are unforgiving to the manager who resists change.

Managers must recognize that many of the traditional business models of the past are no longer applicable. A number of organizations have employed a host of management fads over the past decade with either limited success or disastrous results. Aside from the implementation of new ideas and concepts meant to enrich the authors rather than the company, it is certain that managers must deal with the ever-increasing forces of change that appear to be both overwhelming and unrelenting.

It is important for managers to understand that they are forced to adapt to and align themselves with the changes impacting their industry and company. The traditional direct-and-control role is being replaced by the principles of active leadership and empowerment as the most effective method to anticipate and handle changes in the business environment and marketplace. As a result, the manager is required to take a proactive rather than a passive stance. In this way leaders are on the alert and prepared to deal with the constantly changing business environment.

Managers must adapt to meet the demands of their company, customers and the marketplace. Their professional development and transformation into a proactive leader is interlinked with the changes their organization must make to survive and prosper. The shift can be accomplished by the continual application of the ideas listed below. Since change is continuous and relentless, the evolution of new ideas and professional development must also be ongoing.

Related: You Keep Innovating if You Want to Keep Leading

Brainstorm

Managers must always be seeking new ideas to implement in their business. The best source of new ideas and insights lies within the native knowledge of their individual employees. They are positioned in the front lines of the business where they gather feedback from both coworkers and customers, and see firsthand what the competition is doing in the marketplace. Unfortunately, in many organizations this wealth of knowledge is seldom tapped, much less converted into a useful form. Yet this source of information, insight and ideas are at the manager’s fingertips.

Managers need to schedule ongoing brainstorming sessions to utilize their employees’ knowledge and work through ideas and concepts. Where geographically dispersed branches or locations prohibit this, managers should consider a threaded discussion group using email as a tool to engage their employees as a group.

Brainstorming has distinct advantages in that it feeds on participant synergy in order to build on ideas and concepts. Most participants feel energized and motivated when the exercise is properly undertaken and all ideas and feedback are considered and treated with respect.

Related: The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

Abandon Prejudices

Most seasoned managers have personal prejudices regarding how things in their business should be run. Formed from their experiences and successes over the span of their career, these biases can hinder a manager’s ability to develop and implement new ideas and concepts. With the speed and impact of change in the world now, it is essential to know that what has worked in the past may no longer be effective, and that the fact that old processes may still be in place does not mean there are not better ways of doing things.

New ideas and concepts developed during brainstorming or from other forms of feedback should not be summarily dismissed as a “bad fit” for the corporate culture. Managers need to put aside their personal prejudices and examine viable ideas from all angles in order to determine whether they have an application or can improve employee and company performance.

Implement New Ideas

While managers should seek out new ideas from their employees, customers and their own research, more must be done. After developing these ideas, determining their applicability to the company, and prioritizing them, managers must then implement those that can have the most impact.

People generally fear that new approaches will not work. However, managers must overcome their reluctance by continually testing new ideas. If they do fail, they should learn from the experience and move on to other concepts. It is from a series of failures and the subsequent lessons learned that new and viable ideas are built.

Related: Four Major Barriers to Effective Empowerment

Remove Barriers

Managers must remove barriers their employees may encounter that hinder their effectiveness, productivity and efficiency. In the sales environment, this can typically include reports as well as reworking procedures that hinder their ability to directly deal with a prospect or customer.

Managers need to measure what is actually needed versus what is currently required. The implementation of new ideas and the increase in the level of customer service may require a streamlining of procedures to enhance the individual employee’s ability to be productive and attain desired results.

Think Small

From the mid-90s to the mid-00s there was a tendency for companies with a “bigger is better” mindset to expand through acquisitions and mergers. However, managers must now think small. This adjustment may include reorganizing units into smaller cells that are more adaptable to change. Additionally, thinking small should translate into the areas of goals and planning. IBM built their business on the philosophy of small successes. By breaking their goals down into a series of less daunting, more easily attained steps, employees were able to build their confidence and motivation by completing one after another. The outcome was the same as giving employees the entire goal at once, but in this manner it did not seem insurmountable.

Related: You Don’t Choose Your Passions, Your Passions Choose You

Lead with Passion

As managers transform themselves into proactive leaders they must evolve in their style so that they lead with a passion, sharing their personal vision at every opportunity with their employees, customers and suppliers. They will find that their passion is contagious and that it will impact the performance of the entire team.

Excerpt: Professional Development: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

 

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

August 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

Five Reasons Why Team Communications Can Deteriorate

with one comment

Since leaders are dealing with individual personalities in the team environment, it is unrealistic to expect that communication will never break down. Even within the most effective and efficient team environment, issues and situations will arise that will cause an entire breakdown of team communication.

The breakdown of communication in the team environment often occurs when trust and respect are diminished or ignored by individual team members. Breakdowns also occur when chronic conflict has not been resolved within the team.

Another source of communication breakdown is when team members feel their personal interests are stronger than the needs and identity of the team. These individuals are motivated by their personal desires and will do anything to achieve them, including disrupting the team environment.

It is important for leaders to recognize that communication breakdowns will occur within the team environment. In the early stages of team growth, communication problems and breakdowns are more frequent, as individuals struggle to obtain position and retain power in a new and changing environment. However, in more mature and structured teams, leaders will find that the team itself will deal with the communication problem according to its defined boundaries, rules and standards.

Leaders should be aware that a breakdown in communication can have long-term ramifications on the structure and effectiveness of the team. Therefore, it is important for them to recognize potential problems and the symptoms in order to anticipate issues, such as those discussed below, before they occur.

Loss of Trust and Respect

If leaders allow problems to fester and lead to a breakdown of team communication, they will experience a corresponding breakdown of trust and respect among team members that can be difficult, if not impossible, to restore. These circumstances can be fatal to the team and might require the formation of a new team in order to overcome them. Broken trust requires prolonged periods of time to be reestablished. Leaders need to be aware of this and take appropriate action to reduce the occurrence of chronic problems that can result in the loss of trust and respect among team members.

Hindered Free-Flow of Ideas

Once communication has broken down among team members, leaders will observe that discussions become more emotional and subjective rather than objective and factual. When discussions are based on emotion rather than fact, brainstorming will diminish to the point that there is no free-flow of ideas among team members. This effectively halts the team process until the issues causing the breakdowns are dealt with.

Intimidation

Leaders who experience a breakdown of communication observe that certain members will attempt to take control of the team process, subjugating the team to their personal agendas and perspectives. Once done, these individuals will use emotional responses to intimidate other team members into accepting their points of view. This is where the bonds of trust and respect among team members can be broken. The communication breakdown destroys the team structure and subjects it to the will of one or more members.

Bias

Once the breakdown of communication has led to the destruction of the team order by one or more team members, a specific bias is created that supports the personal agendas of these individuals. When members allow the team process to be subverted by particular individuals, they undermine the entire team effort.

Faulty Decision Making

The breakdown of communication in the team environment inevitably leads to faulty decision making. Specific biases that hinder the free-flow of ideas prevent teams from considering all options and alternatives when making decisions. Consequently, decisions are impacted by the biases of the specific individuals controlling the team. In these circumstances, decision making and outcomes will be flawed.

Individuals who have hijacked the team process will use the team environment as a cover to mask their activities when decisions produce faulty results. As they do not want to be held accountable for their behaviors and actions, they will place blame for the decision on the team environment.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 17.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about enhancing team communications, refer to Boosting Team Communication: Leadership Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

______________________________________________________________________________

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

with 4 comments

While internal conflict and friction can be healthy for an organization – in that it can channel that energy into creative and innovative solutions – there are times when managers must understand that conflict can be costly, especially if personal interests and agendas are placed above the needs of the organization.

Inherent in any conflict is the base struggle for survival. It may be the survival of one’s point of view, perspective or power base. In other instances, it may be the struggle of one group or department over another. In all cases, this struggle must be recognized and balanced against the needs of the organization.

By definition, managers are concerned with the entire organization, not just their own personal spheres of influence. Managers must rise above the desire to attain a power base or advance an agenda. They must direct any conflict resolution toward creating and crafting the best possible solution for the entire organization.

While conflict is healthy in most working environments, there are two general areas where conflict can be damaging and destructive to the entire organization.

Personal Agendas and Perspectives

One of the most problematic areas of conflict resolution is the application of personal agendas and perspectives to conflict resolution. A natural tendency in all individuals, this can cause difficulties if the personal agenda of one or more members of a group overpower the needs of the organization. This is especially problematic when someone senior to the rest of the group members is advancing their personal agenda. The areas where individual personal agendas can be damaging include:

Biased Assimilation of Information

How a problem or conflict is perceived and defined impacts its resolution. Personal agendas and perceptions can create a bias that adversely affects the definition of the problem and, ultimately, the solution. This misstep occurs when information and data is received from an external source and processed with a lack of understanding or adequate background information. Additionally, the information can be processed using incorrect assumptions, perceptions or decision making norms to frame the issue; this ultimately impacts the formation of the solution in regard to conclusions and the actions caused by them.

When personal agendas strongly influence a group—either in the form of intimidation or by the use of power over the group—there is a reluctance to question the information and perspectives being presented. The group assumes a smoothing and avoiding conflict resolution style that allows these differences in opinion and perspective to be both minimized and glossed over. When a wrong decision is made that impacts the organization, the primary influencer can disclaim any exclusive association by pointing out the group nature of the decision. This tactic serves to mask any personal agenda at play, often to extremely destructive effect.

Partisan Perceptions

Research has demonstrated that there is an unconscious tendency in individuals to enhance their own side of a conflict, portraying it as more insightful, honest and morally upright. An associated phenomenon is the tendency to vilify the opposition, portraying them as both unscrupulous and vile. These two phenomena have dominated research on inter-group relations for over 40 years. In more recent studies, the insidious and involuntary nature of partisan tactics has become more apparent, as it affects the nature of conflict and the specific manners in which the resolution process is undermined.

When applied to the aforementioned concept of biased assimilation of information, it is obvious how conflict intensifies when one group strongly believes in their viewpoints while simultaneously vilifying their opponents’. Organizations feel the impact as the conflict degenerates into personal battles and animosities that can endure for prolonged periods of time. This partisanship poisons the workplace environment to the point that satisfactory resolution becomes nearly impossible without outside intervention.

Scarce Resources

The other major source of internal conflict within organizations is the battle between groups and departments over the utilization of limited resources. This situation readily surfaces when organizations lack clear direction.

In certain circumstances, larger and more powerful departments are able to dominate this battle and intimidate smaller and less influential groups. While this “survival of the fittest” confrontation might be considered productive by some members of management, it is ultimately unhealthy and damaging if badly needed resources are diverted away from those areas of the organization most in need of them or from those who can put them to the most productive use.

Excerpt: Conflict Resolution – Pinpoint Management Skill Development Series (Majorium Business Press – Stevens Point, WI, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about conflict resolution techniques in the workplace, refer to Conflict Resolution – Pinpoint Management Skill Development Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

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