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Team Effectiveness - II

Lets get together: Teams at work

Workbook and Discussion Guide Prabha Mannar


iGATE Center for Organization Development & Leadership iGATE Global Solutions Limited.

Team-Effectiveness - II Workbook and Discussion Guide Prabha Mannar


Published by


iGATE Center for Organization Development & Leadership iGATE Whitefield, Bangalore.

1. Introduction.............................................................. 01-10 2. How are we doing as a Team..................................... 11-12 3. Manager: Developer of a team.................................. 13 4. Your Leadership Behavior Exercise........................... 14-20 5. Group Dynamics....................................................... 21-25 6. Group Members Rating Scale................................... 26-27 7. How You Act in Conflicts......................................... 28-30 8. Conflict Strategies: What Are You Like?.................. 31-33 9. Symptoms of Friction................................................ 34 10. Proliferating Rules..................................................... 35 11. Escalating Arbitration................................................ 36 12. Viewing Conflict Negatively..................................... 37-38 13. Viewing Conflict Positively....................................... 39-40 14. Managing Conflict..................................................... 41-42 15. Creating Healthy Competition................................. 43-54 16. Conflict Situations..................................................... 55-56 17. Confronting Conflict................................................ 57 18. Bargaining.................................................................. 58 19. Different Views of Conflict....................................... 59-76 20. Roles.......................................................................... 77 21. Mediation versus Arbitration.................................... 78 22. Interdependence....................................................... 79 23. Rooting Out Conflict................................................ 80-98 24. Conflict Resolution................................................... 99-102 25. How to Reduce Interpersonal Conflict..................... 103-105

Lets get together: Teams at work

A team is a member or interdependent people bound together by a collective aim. They may have finite start and end date, or be intended as an indefinite part of an organizations structure. An essential feature of teams is that the members co-operate to achieve jointly agreed goal. They hold each other mutually accountable for success or failure. The underlying philosophy is that if one of them looks good, they all look good. Teams celebrate both personal and group achievement. In doing so, performance objectives are routinely exceeded. What was one considered impossible becomes viewed as inevitable. Given this, some leading researcher have argued that teams should be the standard unit of performance for most organizations, regardless of size. Indeed the research literature identifies a number of consistent benefits from team organization. These include, Improved quality of work life for employees Enhanced work satisfaction Heightened levels of worker identification and commitment Enhanced flexibility Increased productivity Improvements to products and services Reduced staff turnover Increased industrial harmony A de-layered management structure

In the rush to develop highly focused, productive and motivated teams, it is often assumed that groups are transformed into teams by a simple process of managerial decree: let there be team working. A great deal of research has shown that the above listed benefits of team working do not automatically occur, and that in fact organizational performance may decline when teams are introduced. 01

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One study found that as many as seven out of ten US teams failed to produce the desired results. In reality, positive change in this area requires clear goals, time and supportive communication. Satre once said: Hell is other people. We regularly encounter his view in our work within organizations. Many people find that working in group causes them more anxiety than anything else they do in the workplace. Rather than feel enthralled or stimulated, employees sometimes feel bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the whole business. In addition, teams, committees and groups are often perceived as making poor decisions, while stifling innovation and creativity, and with spawning bureaucracy and inertia. The worlds most prolific source of aphorisms (Anonymous) puts it, A committee is a cul-de-sac down which promising young ideas are lured and quietly strangled. Over 80% of US organizations with more than 100 employees have been estimated to use teams, while a study of over 564 British manufacturing companies found that 55 % ha made at least modes use of teams in the previous few years. Such teams can consist of problem-solving groups (called quality circle), self-managed or natural work groups and cross functional teams (such as short lived project groups). Complex business processes increasingly foster inter-dependency, and which give rise to new forms of team organizations. There may be well be super heroes in most organizations, who regularly and single handedly save everyone from catastrophe. But, in todays world, every Captain Kirk relies on a network of supporting teams, well organized, highly motivated, trained and committed to the goals of the organization. Thus interdependency inevitably leads to group development and the formation of complex relationships. The challenge for managers is to improve communication, transform groups into teams and free the human factor to fulfill its potential as the chief engine of business success. 02

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The human factor is crucial, Loyalty (on the part of employees, investors and customers) have been identified as more important in securing profitable growth than market share, scale, cost position or other key business variables. This supports that the promotion of trust within the workplace as well as with external customer and publics is crucial to success. Teamwork is a powerful means by which trust and loyalty can be used to strengthen the foundation of organization. It is underpinned by values that encourage, listening, supportive communication, responding positively to the input of others, and recognizing everyones interests and achievements. With such values in place individuals, teams and the whole organization perform better. Research has long established that well managed and committed teams achieve much more that individuals working alone or in competition with each other. This is because workers in self managed team have greater autonomy and discretion in what they do. This in turn provides greater intrinsic rewards and job satisfaction, informs flexibility and stimulus innovation. As a result, more that 75% of workers surveyed on this issue who were currently in teams said they would like to return to traditional supervision and methods or organization. The reconfiguration of staff into selfmanaged work teams has been identified as one of the core characteristics of what empirical studies suggest can be defined as high-performing organizations. Examples to illustrate the potential that team working has to offer. When Hewlett Packard (HP) restructured its organization around quality teams, efficiency across the company improved by 50%. A manufacturing operation in Ohio found that output increased by 90% when production teams were created. Xerox headquarters reported that when a supervisory position was eliminated and the staff given more autonomy absenteeism fell by 75% 03

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Team work has consistently resulted in greater achievement, productivity, innovation, quality and work satisfaction than competitively driven management environments. This has been demonstrated in studies ranging over scientists, airline reservation agents, business people, students and car assembly workers. Nissan U.K, based in Sunderland, has become one of the most successful manufacturing plants in the UK. At one point it has an absenteeism rate of 0.75% compared to a national average of factor in this success. For example, at the start of every shift each day all employees met together in their work groups to discuss tasks for the day. People management and team building shills were regarded as key requirements for potential supervisors. A study of 128 claims adjusters from two insurance company offices found that the more employees communicated competently found that the more employees communicated competently, listened skillfully and talked about the new computer system the more productive they were in using it. In short , the more formal and informal contact people engaged in with colleagues when a new process was introduced, the more quickly it was assimilated.

Characteristics of successful team

The team should be a real team, rather than a randomly assembled assortment of individuals who barely know each other. In particular one of the foremost authorities on teams, Hackman, proposes that real teams have a team task, clear boundaries, clearly specified authority to manage their own work processes, and membership stability over some reasonable period of time. Boundaries refer to need for clearly designated team membership.


Lets get together: Teams at work

The team should have highly specific goals John F.Kennedy gave one of the more cited examples of a clear direction in early 1960s. He told the American people that he wanted the country to commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth. In the absence of a guiding sense of purpose teams become a bureaucracy, focused on self preservation rather than the achievement of the organizations objectives. A focus on clear goals can be established and reinforced by ensuring that meetings regularly address the following questions: What did we achieve last week that contributed directly to the organizations mission? What do we want to achieve this week? Who is responsible for what, when will it be done, and what will be different when they have finished? What specifically can we do better? What can we change in how we work? What can we change in the organization? What added value how we brought to this enterprise, this week? This approach reduces emphasis on status, facilitates clear communication, maintains focus, assists evaluation and creates symbols of actual accomplishment. Evaluation of the teams own workings is an essential part of its growth and development.


Lets get together: Teams at work

Effective teams number between 2 and 25 people, with most under 10 this supports constructive interaction, and enable an agreed focus on real, achievable goals. People can snooze peacefully in a crown on 50, but their snores will be noticed in a room of 5. The smaller the team the harder it is to coast as a silent (or anonymous) member. By facilitating involvement, small teams also reduce members frustration when people cannot participate they feel disempowered. Disempowerment ensures that, after team meetings, the main discussion point on everyones agenda is the need to grumble about the chairperson rather than action to solve real problems. Hackman, reviewing the research evidence, has conducted that in general teams should not exceed six people, and function better when they have slightly fewer numbers than the task really reqires. Effective team holds themselves collectively accountable peer pressure is much more effective than pressure that is external to the team. It promotes


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Task Oriented Behavior

CHART A Group Task Functions This chart describes behavior needed to help a group achieve its long or short range goals. A skilled member will assume these roles as they are needed. Function/Role Initiator Purpose Give direction and purpose to the group Technique Proposing tasks, goals, defining problems, suggesting procedures and solutions InformationMake group aware of Requesting relevant seeking need for information facts, clarification InformationProvide group Offering relevant facts, giving information relevant avoiding reliance on to its work opinion when facts are needed Opinion-seeking Test for consensus, Asking for feelings or find out group opinions about opinion something Opinion-giving Provide basis for group decision Eliminate confusion Stating feelings or beliefs, evaluating a suggestion



Defining terms, interpreting ideas, indicating issues and alternatives Giving examples, Reduce ambiguity, developing meanings, show consequences of plans and positions explaining 07

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Adjust issues or Suggesting ways that harmonize issues that different issues can be may conflict handled Establish an order to the meeting Show how ideas are related; draw ideas together Suggesting agenda, order of business, where to go next Pulling together related issues, showing contradictions, restating suggestions, offering conclusions Drawing general statements from specific ones; critically examining assumptions and ideas (not people)

Proceduredeveloping Summarizing


Show that a particular issue is not unique; bring in insights from similar experience


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Person Oriented Behavior

CHART B Group Maintenance Functions This chart describes behavior needed to build and maintain the group as a working unit. A skilled member will assume these roles / functions as they are needed to keep the group working together harmoniously. Technique Function/Role Purpose Encouraging Bring out others Being friendly, warm opinions and give and responsive to others recognition others. Accepting others contributions. Expressing Call group attention Expressing own feelings to reactions to ideas feelings and restating and suggestions made others feelings and opinions Relieving tension Reduce tension, allow group to express feelings Compromising Maintain group cohesion Maintain open discussion, keep channels open Joking, clowning, attention expanders, breaks, etc. Offering or accepting compromises; yielding status, admitting error Drawing out silent members, suggesting procedures for discussions Expressing the group concern, suggesting tasks, stating standards for group to achieve 09

Facilitate communication

Setting standards Make group aware and goals of direction and progress

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Explain, interpret what someone has already said Provide stimulating, interested audience for others

Paraphrasing initial speaker Accepting ideas of others; going along with the group

Listening, following

CHART C Task and Maintenance Functions This chart describes behavior needed to build and maintain the group as a working unit. A skilled member will assume these roles / functions as they are needed to keep the group working together harmoniously. Function/Role Harmonizing, mediating Testing agreement Purpose Reconcile disagreements, reduce tension Technique

Conciliating differences, offering compromises Noting progress, Find out how close group is to agreement stating areas of agreement, making tentative proposals for group reaction, asking if agreement is possible Keep group in line with goals, provide sense of progress Measuring accomplishments against goals, noting progress and blocks



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How are we doing as a Team

One of the best ways to develop teamwork is to periodically take a look at how the group is working together. Before are given twelve dimensions related to teamwork. How would you rank each of the items on the basis of your experience? Always Usually Some- Seldom Never times 1. We get all the information we need for our work on time. Our team members participate in problem solving, decision-making and setting goals. There is trust among the members of our team. Our teams work goals and objectives are clear and challenging. Our team members are committed to the teams goals and objectives. Our meetings are effective, problems are solved, and information is shared.







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Always Usually Some- Seldom Never times 7. 8. The members help me when I need help.

When we need help from other departments, we get it. 9. When our team works well, it is noticed and rewarded. 10. My group is moving towards becoming a self-managing team. 11. I am proud to be a member of this group. 12. Our group has the skills and attitudes required to meet our goals. 1.Which are the areas where the teamwork seems good? 2.Which are the areas where the teamwork is not good? 3.What can be done to keep the good areas going and improve the areas in which teamwork seems to be weak?


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Manager: Developer of a team

The more the leader assumes responsibility for a task, the less subordinates will see it as their responsibility. And yet, as subject, as initiator, as social, the human person needs to participate in some meaningful joint effort. Below are methods for developing a shared responsibility team. Read them and on the next page, indicate the three methods that you feel are most required for your team. Building and sharing a vision: The group strives to formulate an inspiring statement of the core purpose of its work. Simply asking the group: How are we doing as a Team? What do we do well? Where are we weak? Then planning accordingly. Participation in problem solving, goal setting: Together teams set goals, and face and work through problems. A worthy, clear and challenging goal. Policy of rewards go to the team as a whole Loyalty to the team and climate of trust. Pushing decisions towards the expertise: Leader pushes influence on decision towards member with the relevant expertise.


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Your Leadership Behavior Exercise

Any action that helps a group complete its task is a leadership action. Any action that helps a group maintain effective working relationships among its members is a leadership action. When you are a member of a group, what leadership actions do you engage in? How do you influence other group members to complete the task and maintain collaborative relationships? This exercise has two purposes: 1. To make you more aware of your typical leadership actions, and 2. To make your group more aware of its patterns of leadership. The procedure for the exercise is as follows: 1. Working by yourself, complete the following questionnaire. 2. Determine your score and place it on the task-maintenance grid in Figure 2.1 3. In your group, place all members scores on the task-maintenance grid. With the other members of your group, write a description of the leadership patterns of your group. Then write a description of how this pattern may be improved.

Understanding Your Leadership Actions Questionnaire

Each of the following items describes a leadership action. In the space next to each item write 5 if you always behave that way, 4 if you frequently behave that way, 3 if you occasionally behave that way, 2 if you seldom behave that way, and 1 if you never behave that way.


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When I am a member of a group: 1. I offer facts and give my opinions, ideas, feelings, and information in order to help the group discussion. 2. I warmly encourage all members of the group to participate. I am open to their ideas. I let them know value their contributions to the group. 3. I ask for facts, information, opinions, ideas and feelings from the other group members in order to help the group discussion. 4. I help communication among group members by using good communication skills. I make sure that each group member understands what the others say. 5. I give direction to the group by planning how to go on with group work and by calling attention to the tasks that need to be done. I assign responsibilities to different group members. 6. I tell jokes and suggest interesting ways of doing the work in order to reduce tension in the group and increase the fun we have working together. 7. I pull together related ideas or suggestions made by group members and restate and summarize the major points discussed by the group. 8. I observe the way the group is working and use my observations to help discuss how the group can work together better. 9. I give the group energy. I encourage group members to work hard to achieve our goals. 10.I promote the open discussion of conflicts among group members in order to resolve disagreements and increase group cohesiveness. I mediate conflicts among members when they seem unable to resolve them directly. 11. I ask others to summarize what the group has been discussing in order to ensure that they understand group decisions and comprehend the material being discussed by the group. 12. I express support, acceptance, and liking for other members of the group and give appropriate praise when another member has taken a constructive action in the group. 15

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In order to obtain a total score for task actions and maintenance actions, write this score for each item in the appropriate column and then add the columns. Task Actions __ 1. Information and option giver __ 2. Information and opinion seeker __ 3. Direction and role definer __ 4. Summarize __ 5. Energizer __ 6. Comprehension checker __ Total for Task actions Maintenance Actions __ 1. Encourager of participation 2. Communication facilitator 3. Tension reliever



__ __

4. Process observer 5. Interpersonal problem solver 6. Supporter and praiser



Total for Maintenance actions

Description of Task-Maintenance Patterns

Only a minimum effort is given to getting the required work done. There is general non-involvement with other group members. The person with this score may well be saying To hell with it all, Or he or she may be so inactive in the group as to have no influence whatsoever on other group members.


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High value is placed on keeping good relationships within the group. Thoughtful attention is given to the needs of other members. The person within the score helps create a comfortable, friendly atmosphere and work tempo. However, he or she may never help the group get any work accomplished. Getting the job done is emphasized in a way that shows very little concern with group maintenance. Work is seen as important, and relationships among group members are ignored. The person with this score may take an army-drill master approach to leadership. The task and maintenance needs of the group are balanced. The person with the score continually makes compromises between task needs and maintenance needs. Though a great compromise, this person does not look for or find ways to creatively integrate task and maintenance activities for optimal productivity. When everyone plans and make decisions together, all the members become committed to getting the task done as they build relationships of trust and respect. A high value is placed on sound, creative decisions that result in understanding and agreement. Ideas and opinions are sought and listened to even when they differ from ones own. The group as a whole defines the task and works to get it done the creative way combining both task and maintenance needs is encouraged.


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Task Maintenance Grid (6,30) 30 (30,30)

24 Frequency of Task Actions 18 (18,18)

12 6 0








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Problem Reversal
From "What a Great Idea" by Charles Thompson. The world is full of opposites. Of course, any attribute, concept or idea is meaningless without its opposite. Lao-tzu wrote Tao-te Ching which stresses the need for the successful leader to see opposites all around: The wise leader knows how to be creative. In order to lead, the leader learns to follow. In order to prosper, the leader learns to live simply. In both cases, it is the interaction that is creative. All behaviour consists of opposites...Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down.

The method
1. State your problem in reverse. Change a positive statement into a negative one. 2. Try to define what something is not. 3. Figure out what everybody else is not doing. 4. Use the "What If" Compass 5. Change the direction or location of your perspective 6. Flip-flop results 7. Turn defeat into victory or victory into defeat


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1. Make the statement negative For example, if you are dealing with Customer Service issues, list all the ways you could make customer service bad. You will be pleasantly surprised at some of the ideas you will come up with. 2. Doing What Everybody Else Doesn't For example, Apple Computer did what IBM didn't, Japan made small, fuel-efficient cars. 3. The "What-If Compass" The author has a list of pairs of opposing actions which can be applied to the problem. Just ask yourself "What if I ........" and plug in each one of the opposites. A small sample:Lao-tzu wrote Tao-te Ching which stresses the need for the successful leader to see Stretch it/Shrink It Freeze it/Melt it Personalise it/De-personalise it 4. Change the direction or location of your perspective Physical change of perspective, Manage by Walking around, or doing something different. 5. Flip-flop results If you want to increase sales, think about decreasing them. What would you have to do? 6. Turn defeat into victory or victory into defeat If something turns out bad, think about the positive aspects of the situation. If I lost all of the files off this computer, what good would come out of it? Maybe I would spend more time with my family?! Who knows! 20

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Group Dynamics
The social process by which people interact and behave in a group environment is called group dynamics. Group dynamics involves the influence of personality, power and behavior on the group process. Is the relationship between individuals conducive to achieving the group goals? Is the structure and size of the group an asset in pursuing both the task and maintenance functions of the group? How is formal and informal power used to build consensus or reach decisions? Does the combination of individuals produce the right culture? How these individuals, cultures, and internal forces interact allows us to analyze and better understand group effectiveness. There are two types of groups: 1) formal groups who are structured to pursue a specific task, and 2) informal groups who emerge naturally in response to organizational or member interests. These interests may include anything from a research group charged with the responsibility to develop a new product to a group of workers who spontaneously come together to improve social or member activities. While we can learn a lot from informal groups in terms of leadership and motivation, we will concentrate mostly on formal groups, characterized by member appointment and delegated authority and responsibility. Effective group performance depends to a large extent, on the size and composition of the group. A group may consist of as few as two people (giving credibility to the statement that two heads are better than one), or as many as three or four hundred. In order to be effective, group size should be kept to a minimum without jeopardizing workload and goal achievement. Larger groups increase the possibility of conflict due the variety of view points, few opportunities for the development of social relationships, a decrease in participation levels, and lack of opportunity for individual recognition. 21

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Individual skills and performance must be a consideration in forming a group. How many people will be required to ensure that all the skill sets necessary for the performance of the task are included will the task be slowed by a poor performer as may happen with assembly line production? Does the group contain the combination of leaders and followers that will lessen the potential for member rivalries and conflicts. Diversification is a factor in both group development and skill requirement. A group predominately white males may develop more quickly than an ethnically and racially diverse group of men and women. But while the former group may be better able to communicate, set standards and grow as a cohesive unit, it may not be diverse enough to meet all the community or organizational needs. A more diverse group may take longer to reach peak performance due to the number of cultures, languages differences, and interpretation of the task to be completed, but once they do develop, diverse groups are equally productive and may even be more creative in problem-solving because members have access to a broader base of ideas for solutions.

Group functions
Three functions that influence the effectiveness and productivity of groups are Task functions, Maintenance functions, and Self-interest functions.


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Task Functions This is the primary reason for the establishment of a group. To achieve the task, they must have members that fulfill some or all of the following roles: Initiating : By proposing tasks or goals, defining problems and suggesting procedures for a solution. : By requesting facts, seeking relevant information, and asking for suggestions or ideas; : By offering facts, providing information, stating beliefs, and giving suggestions or ideas;

Information Seeking

Information giving

Maintenance Behavior Each group needs social-emotional support to be effective. Some members of the group will take the lead in providing this support, which consists of the following: Encouraging : By showing regard for the other members and providing positive response to their contributions: : By expressing group feelings, sensing moods and relationships, atmosphere sharing feelings; : By reconciling differences and reducing group tension;

Improving group



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Compromising Gate keeping

Standard setting

: By admitting errors and looking for alternatives. : By attempting to keep communications flowing, facilitating the participation of others, and suggesting procedures for sharing discussion; : By reminding members of group norms, rules and roles.

Self-interest Behavior This third function displayed some individuals, members generally takes away from group performance and affects task achievement at the expense of the group. Activities that identify self-interest behavior are as follows: Dominating and controlling : By displaying lack of respect for others, cutting them off, not listening, and restating other members suggestions with a different meaning; : By stifling a line of thought, and changing the topic either away from the point of view or back to his or her own interest. : By providing self-servicing information, or a single point of view designed to achieve a decision that is consistent with their position.




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Splitting hairs

: Through put-downs, sneering at others point of view, or making jokes about another members contribution; : By nit-picking, searching for insignificant details that delay a solution, or undermining another persons point of view.


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Group Members Rating Scale

Directions: 1. Rate your partner member, on all four questions (1 to 4) 2. To make your ratings, read the descriptions, A, B, and C for each question. 3. Then choose and record the appropriate number from the scale. 4. Use your notebook to record your observations. B C A 3 6 9 2 5 8 1 4 7 1. How clearly does he/she communicate ideas, information and / or suggestions? This person is often This person is, This person is hard to understand. generally, an extremely easy to It is because he/she adequate and understand. He/she often speaks in gets to the point and satisfactory generalities or is neither too communicator. rambles or assumes detailed nor too too much or gives general. An too many confusing outstanding details. A poor communicator. communicator. 2. How actively does he/she try to understand the ideas and suggestions of others? This person makes little effort to understand what others mean. Seldom checks how well he understands what another has said. It may be because he assumes that he understands. He is . 26 This person is, generally, an adequate and satisfactory listener. This person really tries to find out what others mean and how they see a situation whether he agrees or disagrees with them. An active and superior listener.

Lets get together: Teams at work often formulating his own remarks rather than listening. A poor listener. 3. How actively and effectively does he/she participate in the groups work? This person seldom This person usually This person actively offers his/her prepares for and and enthusiastically resources to the participates in an prepares for and group. He often adequate and participates in the appears silent, satisfactory manner. work of the group. listless or bored. He often initiates, Seldom prepares, and analyzes group initiates, or helps the tasks and goals. group to define or Excellent participant. solve problems. An ineffective and passive group participant. 4. How effectively does he/she encourage and support the participation of others? This person makes it difficult for others to feel free to share; seldom supports others; seldom yields; does not seem to value others contributions, a poor facilitator. Usually this person adequately facilitates and encourages the participation of other members of the group. This person makes it quite easy for others to actively participate by encouraging members to speak freely and by supplying warm and supporting comments. An excellent facilitator.

Direction 5: While giving feedback to your partner use the format, As I observed you, you 27

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How You Act in Conflicts

The proverbs listed below can be thought of as descriptions of some of the different strategies for resolving conflicts. Proverbs state traditional wisdom, and these proverbs reflect traditional wisdom for resolving conflicts. Read each of the proverbs carefully. Using the following scale, indicate how typical each proverb is of your actions in a conflict. 5 = very typical of the way I act in a conflict 4 = frequently typical of the way I act in a conflict 3 = sometimes typical of the way I act in a conflict 2 = seldom typical of the way I act in a conflict 1 = never typical of the way I act in a conflict ---- 1. It is easier to refrain than to retreat from a quarrel. ---- 2. If you cannot make a person think as you do, make him or her do as you think. ---- 3. Soft words win hard hearts. ---- 4. You scratch my back and Ill scratch yours. ---- 5. Come now and let us reason together. ---- 6. When two quarrel, the person who keeps silent first is the most praiseworthy. ---- 7. Might overcomes right. ---- 8. Smooth words make smooth ways. ---- 9. Better half a loaf than no bread at all. ---- 10. Truth lies in knowledge, not in majority opinion. ---- 11. He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. ---- 12. He hath conquered well than hath made his enemies flee. ---- 13. Kill your enemies with kindness. ---- 14. A fair exchange brings no quarrel. ---- 15. No person has the final answer but every person has a piece to contribute. 28

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17. Fields are won by those who believe in winning. 18. Kind words are worth much and cost little. 19. Tit for tat is fair play. 20. Only the person who is willing to give up his or her monopoly on truth can ever profit from the truths that others hold. ---- 21. Avoid quarrelsome people as they will only make your life miserable. ---- 22. A person who will not flee will make others flee. ---- 23. Soft words ensure harmony. ---- 24. One gift for another makes good friends. ---- 25. Bring your conflicts into the open and face them directly; only then will the best solution be discovered. ---- 26. The best way of handling conflicts is to avoid them. ---- 27. Put your foot down where you mean to stand. ---- 28. Gentleness will triumph over anger. ---- 29. Getting part of what you want is better than not getting anything at all. ---- 30. Frankness, honesty and trust will move mountains. ---- 31. There is nothing so important you have to fight for it. ---- 32. There are two kinds of people in the world, the winners and the losers. ---- 33. When one hits you with a stone, hit him or her with a piece of cotton. ---- 34. When both give in halfway, a fair settlement is achieved. ----- 35. By digging and digging, the truth is discovered.



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Withdrawing -------- 1 -------- 6 -------- 11 -------- 16 -------- 21 -------- 26 -------- 31 -------- Total Forcing Smoothing Compromising Confronting -------- 2 -------- 4 -------- 3 -------- 5 -------- 7 -------- 9 -------- 8 -------- 10 -------- 12 -------- 13 -------- 14 -------- 15 -------- 17 -------- 18 -------- 19 -------- 20 -------- 22 -------- 23 -------- 24 -------- 25 -------- 27 -------- 28 -------- 29 -------- 30 -------- 32 -------- 33 -------- 34 -------- 35 -------- Total -------- Total -------- Total -------- Total

The higher the total score for each conflict strategy, the more frequently you tend to use the strategy. The lower the total score for each conflict strategy, the less frequently you tend to use that strategy.


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Conflict Strategies: What Are You Like?

Different people use different strategies for managing conflicts. These strategies are learned, usually in childhood, and they seem to function automatically. Usually we are not aware of how we act in conflict situations. We just do whatever seems to come naturally. But we do have a personal strategy; and because it was learned, we can always change it by learning new and more effective ways of managing conflicts. When you become engaged in a conflict, there are two major concerns you have to take into account: 1. Achieving your personal goals you are in conflict because you have a goal that conflicts with another persons goal. Your goal may be highly important to you, or it may be of little importance. 2. Keeping a good relationship with the other person you may need to be able to interact effectively with the other person in the future. The relationship may be very important to you, or it may be of little importance. How important your personal goals are to you and how important the relationship is to you affect how you act in a conflict. Given these two concerns, it is possible to identify five styles of managing conflicts. The Turtle (Withdrawing) Turtles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflicts. They give up their personal goals and relationships. They stay away from the issues over which conflict is taking place and from the persons they are in conflict with. Turtles believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts. They feel helpless. They believe it is easier to withdraw (physically and psychologically) from a conflict than to face it. 31

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The Shark (Forcing) Sharks try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict. Their goals are highly important to them, and relationships are of minor importance. They seek to achieve their goals at all costs. They are not concerned with the needs of others. They do not care if others like or accept them. Sharks assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and one person losing. They want to be the winner. Winning gives sharks a sense of pride and achievement. Losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy, and failure. They try to win by attacking, overpowering, overwhelming, and intimidating others. The Teddy Bear (Smoothing) To teddy bears the relationship is of great importance while their own goals are of little importance. Teddy bears want to be accepted and liked by others. They think that conflict should be avoided in favor of harmony and that people cannot discuss conflicts without damaging relationships. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt, and that would ruin the relationship. They give up their goals to preserve the relationship. Teddy bears say Ill give up my goals and let you have what you want, in order for you to like me. Teddy bears try to smooth over the conflict out of fear of harming the relationship.
R E L A T I O N S H I P S Low Importance GOALS High


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The Fox (Compromising) Foxes are moderately concerned with their own goals and their relationships with others. Foxes seek a compromise: they give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of his goals. They seek a conflict solution in which both sides gain something the middle ground between two extreme positions. They are willing to sacrifice part of their goals and relationships in order to find agreement for the common good. The Owl (Confronting) Owls highly value their own goals and relationships. They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their own goals and the goals of the other person. Owls see conflicts as a means of improving relationships by reducing tension between two persons. They try to begin a discussion that identifies the conflict as a problem. By seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person, owls maintain the relationship. Owls are not satisfied until a solution is found that achieves their own goals. And they are not satisfied until the tensions and negative feelings have been fully resolved.


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Symptoms of Friction
Communication problems Yes Is there a lack of co-ordination between parts of the workforce that result in a major duplication of effort? Are incorrect actions taken because information held by one party is knowingly not given to another part of the organization? Is information deliberately not sought so that it can be used as an excuse for inconsistency or avoidance? Group hostility Is there unfounded blaming of one group by another? Are unlikely temporary alliances created between groups in order to "gang up" against another group? Are interdependent groups so concerned with their own territories that they jointly fail to perform? Personal hostility Are disagreements about ideas personalized? Do disagreements include physical or verbal intimidation? Are individuals stereotyped and labeled? No


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Proliferating Rules
Instructions: Use this SkillEval to check whether your organization suffers from an epidemic of proliferating rules. Do rules have a negative impact upon Yes No performance? Are the rules, regulations, and policies in your organization regularly reviewed? How relevant are your rules to current performance? Is there a discernible rationale to all of the rules in your organization? Are your rules concerned with trivial issues? Do the repercussions of some rules seem to be much more significant than merited by the behavior that the rule concerns? Are unimportant rules used unscrupulously to foster discord between colleagues? Do you have unofficial rules in your organization? Do the unofficial rules instigated by groups of staff control individual employee behavior? Are the managers aware of these rules? Are they rules which create unsanctioned power? Are the unofficial rules instigated by staff of lower status? Does breaking these rules lead to further unofficial sanctions?


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Escalating Arbitration
Instructions: Use this SkillEval to check whether your organization is suffering from escalating arbitration. Are the protagonists unconcerned about the Yes No impact of their behavior on the organization as a whole? They want the results of any dispute to be absolutely and entirely in their favor. They are willing to damage the organization to achieve their ends. Are disputes used as opportunities for game playing? Do people argue for argument's sake? Do people seek unreasonable compromises from the other party? Do people willfully and perversely change their positions during the argument? Do people see an argument as an opportunity for causing mischief? Do protagonists doubt the motives of everyone, including possible arbiters? Is everyone assumed to be operating out of self-interest?


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Viewing Conflict Negatively

Many managers think conflict is simply a headache. They do not consider it to have any productive qualities. People with this negative feeling of conflict often use extreme language when talking about it, describing conflict as: Destructive by using words such as warfare, battles, and casualties Uncontrolled or irrational by talking about rage, or saying that someone has lost it Violentby highlighting the pain, suffering, and wounds experienced by those involved in it. People who hold a negative view of conflict interpret even minor disputes as dysfunctional. They may even be opposed to teamwork because they think it inevitably leads to disputes and problems. They believe that conflict is a negative force in the workplace. In this view, conflict involves the following characteristics: Time-wastingwhen conflict is viewed negatively, it is seen to be inefficient. Time spent having an argument is really a devious way to avoid work. Detrimental effect on peoplein this negative view, conflict is seen to cause stress. If people cannot say anything without having to justify it, then they are often tense and fearful of each other. A bunker mentalityif people feel obliged to avoid challenges, they become reluctant to discuss their opinions. They close up and operate in a defensive mode.


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The traditional view of conflict in many organizations is that it is bad, and that it must be avoided and suppressed because it is unproductive. Companies also fear the effect that conflict will have on relationships between employees. But when this negative view takes hold, employees fear conflict so much that they end up in either fight or flight mode. They are primed to be overly defensive, which makes them incapable of working together efficiently.


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Viewing Conflict Positively

While some people do everything they can to avoid conflict, others believe that conflict is always a positive influence in the workplace. This view is based on the idea that conflict is the natural human condition, and that everyone is dominated by survival instincts. The strong survive, but the weak do not, and so conflict is one of the most effective ways to sort the weak from the strong. This approach is often referred to as Social Darwinism, after Charles Darwin's writings about the way that species evolved on Earth. When this point of view is applied to business, it results in the following assumptions being adopted: Only the strong surviveconflict encourages strong employees to prevail over weak ones, meaning that to get an idea adopted, an employee must reject all challenges to it by proving it is the best one. Workers need to be pushedmanagers must keep on top of a naturally lazy workforce because workers want to do as little work as possibleso they must be continually prodded by managers. Teams do not workconflict demands competition between people, not collaboration competition is considered the natural state of being for people; working together is unnatural and ineffective. This perception of conflict is considered too extreme by many people who argue that good ideas can be suppressed under this sort of regime.


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Drawbacks of excessive conflict Constructive compromises and the benefits of pooled ideas will not be encouraged in such a competitive atmosphere. Employees who are less assertive, but who have a valuable contribution to make, will be run off by the aggressors. The view according to which conflict is always good is based on the belief that through struggle and competition, the strongest survive. In the workplace strong employees win by defeating weaker ones; managers rigidly rule their staff. People who hold this view do not believe in comparing and contrasting ideasthey believe in beating other people. The drawback of this is that it fails to recognize the benefits of synergy and compromise. Most people would like to work for an organization where they are valued, rather than where they have to fight for survival.


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Managing Conflict
Some people take the view that conflict is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. They believe that if it is managed properly, conflict can produce positive outcomes. This view is sometimes called the interactionist perspective and is the generally accepted current view of conflict in the workplace.

The Interactionist view of conflict

The interactionist perspective is based on the assumption that too much conflict is a bad thing, but an organization needs a certain level of conflict to function effectively. This is founded on the following beliefs: Conflict is neither inherently good nor badthe value of conflict is not fixed, but depends on the circumstances in which it happens. In different contexts, the same form of conflict could have a beneficial or adverse effect. It depends on how it is managed. Conflict is inevitable in organizationshuman nature dictates that people will always have differences of opinion. Differences can be suppressed, but they will still exist. If conflict is inevitable, it is better to harness it than suppress it, and so conflict needs to be managed. Conflict can be beneficial for allthe process of conflict management can stimulate creativity and boost the morale of everybody, rather than just that of the winners. Conflict can be viewed on a continuum, from being a positive influence in an organization to a negative influence. Therefore, there can be an optimum level of conflict, so long as it is managed effectively. 41

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Achieving optimum conflict

Managers who follow the interactionist perspective do not blame people for expressing their differences in healthy and constructive ways. In fact, they will try to encourage these differences. This encouragement is based on a belief about the true nature of conflict in the workplace. The interactionist perspective argues firstly that conflict cannot be avoided, and secondly that it is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. When managers aim for an optimum level of conflict, they need to be very clear about the benefits that it will bring. The advantages include: Freedom of expression boosts morale the processing of emotion is essential for human well-being. Healthy conflict allows this, whereas hidden grudges give rise to irrational acts. Conflict helps group development conflict advances group development by enabling discussion about roles and norms. Individuals in the group who might have been reluctant to disagree can be encouraged to participate more. Conflict stimulates creativity creativity is enhanced when people must justify their ideas, hear other points of view, and rethink their propositions. The results of such challenges can be synergistic. Challenge also exposes previously unrecognized issues. Conflict, at the right level, is a healthy and energizing force in an organization. But it must be managed carefully to ensure that it works creatively, and not destructively.


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Creating Healthy Competition

Healthy differences in the workplace energize without distracting from productivity. They challenge the mentality that is satisfied with good enough, and prompt workers to strive to perform better and better.

Promoting healthy competition

You cannot just develop healthy competition by chance. You must identify and implement some specific ways of behaving that will stimulate the right sort of competition. To create healthy competition, you should: Make opportunities available to everyone Distribute rewards evenly Use objective performance measures. Explore these three factors below: Opportunities Opportunities must be open to everyone. The chance to be promoted, to bid for work, or to implement ideas must not be restricted to a favored few. You must let it be known that challenges can come from anywhere and anyone in the organization, and opportunities are not fenced off. If staff members just think that they only have to wait it out to get the next job, it breeds complacency. Making opportunities available to everyone creates a positive working environment because everyone is encouraged to progress, and discouraged from stagnating. 43

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Rewards Do not restrict rewards to winners. Let everyone know that if they are unsuccessful in some endeavor, that you will help them to be successful next time. For those who do not succeed, the recognition may encourage them to make more effort next time. Objective performance criteria Use objective criteria to define success. Reputation and status should not be significant. Objective criteria need to be fair and transparent. That way, everyone can be measured against the criteria, and all who meet those criteria will succeed. In recruitment matters, for example, the reasons for an appointment should be clear to everyone so that no one can make accusations of favoritism or unfair practices. Such accusations could damage staff morale, and discourage people from applying for vacant positions in the future Encouraging competition is a difficult balancing act. By opening up opportunities and making the criteria for success visible, you can reward more staff members. Then staff members do not have to fight to succeed.

Rules of Effective Arguments

Democracy is one of the greatest forces for good in Western society. An integral part of this democratic tradition is debate, which is formalized argument and challenge.


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Democracy is based on the notion that when people argue, they learn from each other. Arguing your case and being challenged to justify your opinion is a positive force in business, as much as in any other part of life. Of course, too much can mean argument for argument's sake. But not enough can result in the failure to express feelings, which often leads to a sudden overreaction. Effective arguments Effective arguments are energizing, and make both parties think, rethink, and justify their positions. If an argument is to be effective, then it needs to follow certain rules to ensure that it is rational. To be effective, arguments must be: Justifiablethis means using facts which can be verified, and not subjective opinions. Cigarettes cause cancer is a fact-based argument. John Wayne was a good actor is just opinion. Arguments based on opinions rather than fact can easily turn into personal disputespersonality clashes are usually very damaging forms of conflict and are difficult to resolve. On the same terms one person might argue that oranges are the best fruit, but your favorite vegetable might be peas. This argument will never be effective, because each person is arguing about something different. To be effective, an argument needs to be on the same terms. Open-endedeffective arguments do not necessarily have to end in agreement; sometimes people cannot, or do not, agree with each other. Good arguments can end with both sides agreeing to differ, and accepting and honoring their differences. Although people will not always agree with each other, if arguments are based on facts and equal terms, then the outcomes can be positive because debate can clear the air and help individuals to move forward from a disagreement. 45

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Remember that arguments work best when people are rational. An argument must have a purposeengaging in a dispute just for the sake of it wastes time, energy, and resources. Similarly, if an argument is to be effective, parties must be flexible and reasonable it is useless to hold on to an untenable position out of stubbornness. Argument and challenge can often be disruptive and upset the status quo. But you can handle them effectively if you choose, so that the arguments will be productive and energizing for your organization.

Making Everyone a Winner

When you think about conflict in the workplace, as in sport, the usual assumption is that if there is a winner, then there must also be a loser. But you can reconfigure conflict situations in a way that makes everyone involved a winner. Creating the right climate Operating a win-win approach entails cultivating the right climate in your workplace. The following are guidelines for creating this climate: Express a spirit of cooperation. Exercise a high degree of trust between other parties. Anticipate synergy (that the shared solution will be better than an individual win).


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A win-win approach signals that the intention in the conflict is not to defeat the other side, but to collaborate to achieve a shared victory. Win-win solutions often come about because both parties realize that if they work together, they will gain. The parties also recognize that if they work against each other, often both sides lose. Once you have created this favorable climate, you are ready to tackle any issues that need to be resolved without fearing that the process will degenerate into destructive conflict.

Handling conflict
To promote win-win solutions to resolving conflict in the workplace, you need to apply three principles. Avoid the zero-sum approachthe zero-sum approach is one in which the rewards of any negotiation are entirely given to one party. You must aim for a better allocation of rewards, so that all sides can gain from the solution. This may not result in actual equality, but it must be more equitable than the zero-sum idea. Achieving a degree of equality prevents resentment from creeping inresentment tends to grow and can generate harmful conflict. Advocate flexible compromises you need to be creative and flexible in identifying what you are trying to gain from the solution and where you can compromise. A vital starting point is knowing what your bottom line is, the point below which you will not go.


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Compromise can be applied in most situations. For example, if you find yourself in a position where you are contemplating laying some staff off, it may be worth consulting them to see if you can identify alternativesit may turn out that several of them would like to switch to working part-time, meaning that you could avoid making full-time layoffs and thereby preserve high staff morale. Take a long-term perspectiveone of the key principles of winwin approaches is that although in the short term you might not achieve all that you wanted to, in the long run you will gain more by being cooperative. You always gain something, whereas with an all-or-nothing approach, you might get nothing. By suggesting sensible compromises, all parties can find a measure of satisfaction. They can all see that, over time, they will benefit equally. When you promote win-win solutions, you will find that people enjoy the benefits of this flexible and reasonable approach to conflict. After a while, everyone will recognize it as the most effective way to operate.

Recognizing Friction in the Workplace

Friction occurs when objects rub together and results in a slowing down of their movement. Friction in the workplace results from destructive conflict. It leads to the slowing down and seizing up of the interactions between people. It is therefore highlighted by some clear signs that you need to be able to recognize. These are:


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Ineffective communication Hostility between individuals Hostility between groups. Ineffective communication Poor communication leads to poor coordination between parts of the workforce, and duplication of effort. Information may be held by one party and deliberately not given to others, or not sought, so that a lack of information can be used as an excuse for ignoring rules and regulations. Group hostility Groups may blame other groups, without justification, for their own problems. They may form temporary alliances to work against each other, or become so concerned with preserving their territories that they would rather fail than cooperate. Group hostility is described as institutional hostility if everyone occupying one function in a company is at odds with everyone from another function for example, if all the accountants refuse to cooperate with anyone on the sales team. Personal hostility Personal hostility makes all arguments personal, so that the focus is no longer on the real issues involved. Disagreements may escalate to include physical and verbal intimidation, often based on stereotyping and labeling.


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Personal conflict can be very damaging to a company. If one or several employees are more interested in undermining or embarrassing one of their colleaguespossibly through deliberately communicating badly (withholding information, providing false information, etc.) there is little chance of them working productively on anything together. If productivity is suffering, look for the symptoms of communication issues, and group and personal hostility. They are the signs that you must watch for, because they signal conflict working destructively in your company.

Rule Overload Creates and Consolidates Conflict

One way to recognize destructive conflict in the workplace is to look at the extent of the rules and regulations that exist in an organization. Rules and regulations are a necessary part of any organization, but in organizations which are suffering a lot of conflict, rules and regulations open or hidden will proliferate. Disadvantages of rule overload Having excessive rules in the workplace is not just a sign of conflict; it is also a factor that fuels conflict. The disadvantages of having too many rules are: Paralysisan organization can easily get clogged up with rules. The daily life of work becomes a process of weaving between rules and regulations that generally impede performance rather than assist it.


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Frustrationemployees get frustrated by the imposition of rules. They dislike being constantly thwarted, patronized, or confused by rules. As a result, they may decide to challenge the "rule minders", and thereby create more conflict. Indisciplinesometimes the rules being upheld are so restrictive that employees must break them just to get their job done. Too many policies and regulations are a sign of a conflicted company. But there are also hidden rules and regulations. These are the norms, expectations, and even myths that exist in the workplace that control behavior. Hidden Rules Hidden norms are unofficialthey tend to have taken root over time and often have no reason for being other than the fact that they seem to always have been. Frequently, the person or people who benefit from these rules exert pressure to ensure they remain in effect. For example, it may have become the norm in a company for the receptionist to leave one hour early on Friday afternoons, even though this is not part of his contract and means that one of the sales team has to answer phones for the last hour. This hinders the work of the sales team, and they may be unhappy about this. But their complaints are met with anger by the receptionist, who insists he will continue this practice because it has always been part of the companys culture. To the company's detriment, he is upholding an unofficial rule. Bad rules You can recognize rules that could be scrapped because they tend to be: 51

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Illogicalsome rules exist in a company due to habit. They have little or no relevance to current practices, but are maintained out of a misplaced sense of caution. With no logical foundation, they impede performance. Trivialtrivial rules are concerned with aspects of behavior that are irrelevant to performance (strict dress codes can be a prime example in some workplaces). Perversely, ignoring these unimportant rules tends to result in major repercussions. They can be very annoying and are easily used as weapons in workplace conflict. UnofficialUnofficial rules may force the staff to behave in ways that they are unhappy about. Breaking these rules challenges the power of the group. Often they stem from patterns that some staff members liked, but that management has since discarded. You will be able to decide whether your organization suffers from proliferating rules, which are indicative of conflict, by asking the following simple questions: Are there practices which have no official status (such as allowing the receptionist to leave early on Fridays), but have become rules about the way you operate? Do your rules focus on trivial matters, to the detriment of more significant concerns? Do certain employees actively maintain their unsanctioned power through unofficial rules? Proliferating rules are a significant indicator of negative conflict. Now that you have identified the signs of them in the workplace, you will be able to eliminate them in your own organization.


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How Conflict Resists Resolution

In many organizations, disputes between employees are managed easily, usually between the staff members themselves. But in organizations plagued by destructive conflict, the resolution of differences is contentious, and seems to need the involvement of more and more people. This is described as escalating arbitration. Arbitration is when individuals or groups at work seek out a third party to listen to their respective positions and make a decision on the situation. Escalation of arbitration is when conflict cannot be resolved and must go higher and higher up the chain of command for resolution. Reasons for escalation No company can settle all disputes easily and amicably. Sometimes, people disagree and cannot reach a resolution. Sometimes, not even their immediate managers can resolve the situation. And so the arbitration escalates. But in organizations characterized by destructive conflict, the attitudes of people disagreeing with each other is different from that in organizations where conflict is a healthy force. In organizations in which there is destructive conflict, arbitration escalates almost inevitably. This escalation is caused by: Ignoring the greater good the protagonists are unwilling to change for the greater good. They are self-centered, and will not bend for the good of the work community. They want the results to be entirely in their favor, and if they cannot achieve this, they are willing to block or harm everybodys work.


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Game playingdisagreements provide opportunities for game playing. The games played are things like arguing just for the sake of it, seeking unreasonable compromises from others, and willful contradictions made to annoy others. Arguments become opportunities to make mischief or settle personal scores. Self-interest Arbitration escalates when no one believes anyone else. All parties are assumed to be operating out of pure self-interest, and anything that arbitrators suggest is seen as being for their own benefit. Arbitrators are often disparaged, and their recommendations ignored.

Destructive conflict, especially that caused by personal rivalries, is sure to thrive for as long as a significant number of employees neglect the common good and exclusively pursue self-interest or mischief. And company spirit and efficiency is sure to suffer more and more the longer it goes on. A major change in attitude is required. No organization is free of disputes which need resolving. But the escalating arbitration that occurs in organizations suffering from destructive conflict involves certain warning signsand now you can recognize them.


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Conflict Situations
Source: Handling Conflict with Others Instructions: Use this SkillEval to determine how you act in conflict situations. How true is this of your attitude to conflict? 1 = never true 5 = always true 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I hate to argue. When I argue I aim to win. No one ever forgets losing an argument. 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5

You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. 1 2 3 4 5 Nothing is ever resolved without a dialog. 1 2 3 4 5 Arguments solve nothing. I know when I'm right. It's better to agree with each other than stick to your point. Win-win is my motto. 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5

10 Everybody is right in their own eyes. 11 Nothing is so important that you have to fight for it. 12 Powerful people win arguments. 13 I don't like to upset people by arguing.

14 Give and take works best. 1 2 3 4 5 15 People solve problems by discussing them. 1 2 3 4 5


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Now write the rating that you gave each question next to it in the grid below. Finally, add up each vertical column and write the score next to each category. Q.1 Q.6 Q.11 Q.2 Q.7 Q.12 Q.3 Q.8 Q.13 Q.4 Q.9 Q.14 Q.5 Q.10 Q.15

Withdrawing Overpowering Fearful Compromising Problem -solving The category with the highest score indicates your attitude towards conflict.


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Confronting Conflict
Source: Handling Conflict with Others Instructions: Use this SkillGuide to confront conflict effectively when you encounter it in the workplace. Choose an appropriate time and place by: Avoiding confrontation in public places where people will be more defensive Choosing neutral territory so that no one has an advantage Allowing enough time to discuss the matter fully Be firm but not threatening by: Attitude Describing what the problem is Saying what you feel about the problem Stating what change or resolution you want Avoid making assumptions by: Assumptions Not acting in relation to your belief about how the other party feels Not acting on your belief about the resolution that the person wants Avoiding judgments Encourage a dialog by: Dialog Listening to the other party Responding to and discussing what he or she says Asking the person to suggest a compromise 57


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Source: Handling Conflict with Others Bargaining Issue Attitudes to resources available Distributive Bargaining A fixed amount is available. The target is to gain the complete resource. I must win, so you must lose High Competitive Short term Integrative Bargaining A variable amount which should be divided between the parties We can both win Low Compromising Long term

Attitude toward the other party Likelihood of conflict Relationship with the other party Assumed duration of relationship


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Different Views of Conflict

Everyone has a slightly different view on conflict. Some people believe conflict should be avoided at all costs, while others relish conflict and do everything they can to foster it. Most peoples view lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Shaping views of conflict

Two forces govern a persons attitude to conflict: 1. Upbringing 2. National culture These two forces are explored over the coming paragraphs. Upbringing As you experience conflict throughout your life, you may moderate and perhaps control your instinctive childhood responses. But the power of instinct should not be underestimated. At times of stress, most people will still react without thinking. This is when your ingrained responses will emerge most powerfully. Experiences before the age of seven are particularly influential on attitudes later in life. People experience a huge range of conflict in childhood, from disagreements about television to acrimonious divorce. Young children soak all this up, and this may have profound impacts on how they deal with conflict as adults. For example, a man who as a child witnessed his parents constantly argue before they eventually divorced, may now, in adult life, want to avoid all types of conflict because he feels it always results in unhappiness. 59

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On the other hand, a man who grew up with several feisty brothers may have become accustomed to intense competition and so, as an adult, may be quite eager to engage in conflict. National culture Researcher Geert Hofstede investigated the way that national culture influences behavior. One aspect of his analysis, which is relevant to conflict in the workplace, is the extent to which cultures are collectivist or individualistic. Collectivist culturesthese are cultures in which the interests of the group prevail over the interests of the individual. These cultures believe that harmony should always be maintained, and direct confrontations should always be avoided. The word no is seldom used, because it is confrontational. Instead, they say: You may be right. Individualismin these cultures, speaking your mind is a virtue. People believe that a clash of opinions leads to a higher truth. Telling the truth, even if it hurts other people, is considered to be the right thing to do. According to Hofstede, the US epitomizes the individualistic type of culture, and Far East countries are examples of collectivist cultures. If you want to be effective in handling conflict, then you have to be able to move beyond your instinctive responses. That means you need to pinpoint where they come fromyour childhood or your national cultureand establish how powerful a factor they are.


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Understanding Instincts in Conflict

It is a basic rule of psychology that if you want to change your behavior, you have to understand what you are doing now. This applies in many situations, but never more so than when dealing with conflict. Understand your instinct People handle conflict instinctively. In other words, they act without thinking. So to change that behavior, they must think carefully, openly, and honestly about their responses. When two people are in a dispute, how they react depends upon their attitudes towards two main elements: goals and relationships. Goals Your goals are the results that you want from the dispute. You must decide how important these goals are to you and how far you are ready to go to achieve them. Relationships When caught in a conflict, you must determine for yourself how important your relationships with the other parties are. Do you need to remain on good terms with them after the dispute? The goal and relationship elements are in a constant state of tension during conflicts. How you manage one will affect the other. But it is possible to manage both and strike the balance that suits you best.


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But it is important that your calculations of your goals and relationships are not clouded by your instinctive reactions to conflict. Therefore, the first step towards balancing your goals and relationships is to clearly identify your instinctive reactions to conflict. Your instincts could lead you to: Dislike conflict, value relationshipsyou do not like conflict because you think it means that people will not like you, and you want to be liked. So when you are in a conflict situation, the other person's view of you is more important than winning the argument. Relish conflict, seek goals, promote relationshipsyou see conflict as a problem to be solved, with both sides equally involved. You will not be satisfied with a half-hearted solution, but will push for a decision that is synergistic. You see conflicts as opportunities. Dilute goals to nurture relationshipsyou believe in a shared approach to conflictthat if both sides give and take, then everybody will be happy. Believe you cannot handle conflictyou may withdraw from conflict situations, and give in rather than argue. During conflicts, you feel anxious and unhappy, because you feel that the outcome is always bad for you. Value goals more than relationshipsyou have to have your way. If this means damaging the relationship with the other person, then so be it. Your tactics involve overpowering the opposition and sometimes even intimidation. Once you identify your instinctive approach to conflict, you can begin to develop better ways of handling it when it occurs.


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Approaches to Conflict
Conflicts evoke instinctive responses. But once people move beyond instinct and instead allow themselves to be guided by their intellect, they can choose which approach to take when disputes arise. There are five possible approaches. These are: 1. Avoidancethis is unassertive and uncooperative behavior. It involves abdicating any responsibility for the outcome of the conflict and ignoring your own interests and the interests of the other party, leaving it to fate. 2. Accommodationthis is behavior that is cooperative but unassertive. If you follow this path, you will ignore your own interests in favor of the other person's interests. But then you are surrendering, which can be frustrating in the long term. 3. Acceptancethis approach involves nearly equal parts of assertiveness and cooperation, but cooperation is slightly higher. You sacrifice some of your own aims to reach an outcome that is minimally acceptable to you both. You lose more than you gain, but you do gain. 4. Collaborationthis approach is equal in terms of cooperation and assertiveness, and you attempt to maximize the gains of both parties. It is different from acceptance, which involves a minimal solution. Using the collaboration approach, you try to find the best result for all. 5. Competitionthis approach is the triumph of assertiveness over cooperation. At the extreme end of this spectrum, the desire to achieve your goal can make you ruthless and inconsiderate. You make no attempt to find any form of joint solution.


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It is important to be aware of the different approaches people may take to a conflict. It is also, of course, important to know when it is appropriate for you to use each approach. Avoidance Use an avoidance approach when there is no need for an immediate decision and when more information is required to make the decision. Avoidance is useful when emotions are running too high and a more competitive approach would result in loss for all. Accommodation Accommodation is a suitable approach when you are in the wrong, and when the impact upon the other party is more important than the impact upon you. Acceptance Use an acceptance approach when the parties involved are equal and a stalemate is likely. This approach works well when a temporary settlement is needed and collaboration and competition would not work. Collaboration Use a collaborative approach when you need to gain the commitment of the other party. Collaboration works well when the feelings and emotions of all parties need to be explored and you have plenty of time.


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Competition Use competition when speed is crucial or when the other party would take advantage of the situation if you did not compete. Competition is the best approach when the decision is vital to your survival. Now that you are familiar with the different possible approaches to conflict, you have a wide range of conflict responses to choose from. They will help you to ensure that your calm intellect triumphs over your instincts, making it easier to deal with difficult disputes.

Resolving Conflict through Confrontation

Confrontation is a balanced response to a conflict. It lies between the two extreme responses, which are avoidance and competition. Drawbacks of avoidance and competition Although avoiding conflict or competing ruthlessly to win seem like sensible options, they are both problematic. If you avoid conflict, you are only stockpiling trouble. Similarly, being aggressively competitive and losing your temper may enable you to overwhelm your colleagues in the short term, but in the end they will look for revenge. Benefit of confrontation On the other hand, an approach based on confrontation, does not lead to long-term problems. Confrontation is an assertive (as opposed to aggressive) response in which you calmly express your own view and prepare for a mutual resolution. 65

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Confronting a colleague in a conflict situation can be daunting, as he or she may act aggressively. This may cause you to get angry yourself, or else to simply submit neither of which are productive reactions in the long term. You need, therefore, to know the different techniques that make up a confrontational approach. These are: Choose right time and placethe context in which you confront people is vitally important. You need to choose a time and a place that will not exacerbate the conflict, or make people act strangely to avoid losing face. For example, it is often better to express disapproval or unhappiness to a colleague when the two of you are alone, rather than in front of all your other colleagues. Be assertiveattitude is essential in confrontation. Whatever your real feelings, you need to show that you are in control, and express yourself firmly and clearly without making threats or showing hostility. If you are assertive, you send a calming message to the other person. Listen and learnif you make assumptions about the other person, then you will act on those assumptionsand often you will be wrong. It is better to check the other party's real feelings and motives firstthis may open up new ways of resolving the conflict. Open dialogone of the defining parts of effective confrontation is dialog. You must act in a way that invites the other person to respond to you. Otherwise, you could end up either imposing an unacceptable solution or reaching a stalemate. Confronting conflict takes skill and sensitivity. Using these techniques to deal with conflict calmly and fairly makes it much more likely that you will reach a conclusion that will benefit both parties.


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Improving Communication to Handle Conflict

Communication problems are both the cause and the result of conflict in the workplace. When groups or individuals fail to communicate, they often find themselves in conflict. And when they are in conflict, they often fail to communicate. Given this, communication skills are a vital element of your conflict handling repertoire. Communication is concerned with understanding other points of view. If you cannot see things from someone else's viewpoint, then your positions become more and more polarized. To improve your communication skills, you need to consider three essential techniques that will make their communication much more effective in conflict situations. 1. Link ideas to peopleideas should be linked to people so that they are not abstract concepts. Put a face to the issue, and you will be more sensitive about how you approach it. For example, if a person realizes her behavior is creating extra work for John the accountant, she may change her ways not just to be more efficient but also out of respect for John. 2. Establish the significance of issues people's issues are important to them, and ignoring or belittling them can have major implications. For example, you may not consider the death of your colleagues cat a great tragedy, but your colleague may be very upset about ityou will need to know this if you are to react to it appropriately. 3. Show willingness to cooperatelistening is good, but explicitly stating you intend finding a compromise goes further. If you simply assume that the other person knows you are ready to give ground, you may be wrong, and the other person will show intransigence because he thinks that is what you are doing. 67

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According to research about communication and conflict, the amount of communication between groups has a significant effect on the likelihood of conflict. The potential for conflict increases if there is too much or too little communication between groups. It is therefore possible to over communicate as well as under communicate. Therefore, the techniques for creating more effective communication must be applied with care. Applying effective communication techniques To apply these techniques in the workplace, you need to go beyond the level of individual skills and move towards organization-wide efforts implemented at the managerial level. This shift in emphasis requires a translation of these simple techniques into organizational procedures that will improve communication. Ways of applying the techniques in practice include: Linking ideas to people Create cross-functional teams in which people work with a range of colleagues. Interactions will then lead to a wider recognition of individuals and their qualities. This technique is particularly useful in resolving role conflict based on different technical or professional backgrounds. Establish the significance of issues Organize a regular pattern of secondment (temporary transfer) between departments and functions. This will enable people to experience things from different perspectives. This is a useful technique for workers with a history of embedded conflict where the expectations of co-workers are fixed. 68

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Show willingness to cooperate Give certain individuals the specific job of coordinating understanding between departments. These people should be proactive individuals who will speed up communication by taking charge and energizing the process. Do not make this role too complex, and it will have an immediate impact. Good communication does not depend on good fortune. Be proactive about improving communication and cooperation, because while clashing needs cause conflict, shared goals make people work together.

Reaching Acceptable Outcomes

You need your colleagues. You have to continue working with them. Therefore, it is important that you do not let conflict become so aggressive that it destroys your working relationship with your colleagues. What you should be aiming for is an outcome that is satisfactory to both of you, but which does not surrender too many of your interests for the sake of the relationship. The way to achieve this is to use an integrative bargaining style instead of a distributive bargaining style. Integrative bargaining stylethis is based upon the assumption that through compromise, both sides can achieve some outcome, and the intention is to maximize both outcomes. Distributive bargaining stylethis is based upon the assumption that the outcome is fixed, so that if you gain, someone else must lose. It is often also referred to as competitive bargaining. 69

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The integrative approach is based upon the attitude that the best outcome of any conflict is when everybody gains something. An approach that yields solutions that are acceptable to all will feature three elements: 1. Planning you need to distinguish between what you want and what you will accept (the bottom line). There is often a difference, which gives you flexibility. The other person will have their own range of wants. Try to identify their interests and establish what lies behind the position that they take. Then decide what you are willing to trade to help them get some satisfaction too. 2. Adopt a rational approachin the actual negotiation, you need to adopt a rational approach and focus on the issues. Conflict is inevitably emotional, but personalizing it tends to be counterproductivehurt feelings only serve to deepen conflict. State clearly what you want, explain why you want it, and show that you are willing to make compromises. Apply rational problemsolving techniques to safely move from argument to counter argument. 3. Establish tangible outcomesyou must work on outcomes that are not just platitudes. It is easy to agree to something, but then do nothing. Make sure that whatever you agree has direct benefits for both parties, is measurable, and includes a deadline. This gives you objective tools for monitoring the implementation of the resolution. If you want to be successful in handling conflict with others, then do not forget how to plan the discussion, and conduct yourself rationally to produce an outcome that gives tangible benefits to all.


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Techniques to Avoid Taking Sides

When conflict is the norm rather than the exception, you can be pulled into countless pointless arguments that sap your energy. Taking sides in someone else's conflict is risky. At the very least, you will upset one party. If you face the prospect of being drawn into conflict, one way to survive with the least discomfort is to avoid taking sides. Not taking sides sounds like a simple approach, but it can be difficult initially. However, even if it is difficult, it is better than being drawn into fruitless arguments. You can use one of the two techniques for avoiding taking sides in a dispute: 1. Refusalsimply make no comment and, therefore, no commitment. 2. Prevaricatetake so much time to consider both sides that the argument dies out or is resolved before you have to commit to either side. Both of these approaches need to be carefully handled so as not to alienate your warring colleagues. You need to leave them feeling positive or at worst, neutral about you. Refusal If you make your statement of refusal politely and clearly, then you can minimize any negative reactions. You must phrase it so that both parties understand that it applies to both of them equally.


Lets get together: Teams at work Reasons for refusal Refusing to take sides does not mean blindly ignoring the conflict. To avoid offending the disputing parties, you need to give a reason for not getting involved. Your reason could be that both arguments have equal merit or conversely, that neither argument is justifiable. You may also cite a lack of knowledge about the issue. This involves lengthy questioning of both sides to establish the arguments. Conflict often leads to emotional appeals, but do not be swayed; focus on the facts of the arguments, not the feelings. Prevarication Listen to what both parties have to say so that they know you are not being rude. Then say you will consider the arguments carefullythis is basically your way of evading the decision. You must emphasize that you are thinking deeply about the merits of each point of view and that this could take you a long time. Reasons for prevarication Prevarication is a wise technique to use when the argument is based on emotions rather than facts. Time out may allow feelings to cool down, and the dispute will fade out. It is also a useful approach when the arguments are incompletewith time, the parties may find some additional piece of information that will help the resolve the issue without you. For many people, outright refusal or prevarication contradicts their instincts. Arguments are like whirlpoolsthey pull you in, and some people offer less resistance than others. Arguments can also be stimulating and invigorating, which is attractive to some people. But when conflicts are continuous, instead of being energizing, they can drain energy. This is when not taking sides becomes a more sensible option. 72

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Remaining neutral is not always easy, as work colleagues can be very demanding of your support. But these techniques will help you to delay taking sides, hopefully until the conflict fades away by itself.

How to Avoid Being Caught in the Middle

When people argue, and you are a bystander, it is tempting to wade in and act as a mediator to calm things down. But bewarethe person in the middle often gets hurt the most. In many workplaces, mediation is an official role. A mediator has the power to insist upon a compromise. But placing yourself in the middle of warring colleagues is different. It involves acting as an unofficial mediator. Drawbacks of unofficial mediation Unofficial mediators try to find the middle ground between two parties and encourage them to communicate and reach a resolution themselves. However, unofficial mediators are powerless. You have no powers to bring the sides together or to insist upon a compromise. And if you fail, the blame for the entire dispute will often fall on you. There are good reasons for not being caught in the middle of two fighting parties. But sometimes your colleagues can be very persuasive, calling on your loyalties or friendships. So you need to develop ways to avoid the situation. There are three effective techniques to help you.


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Referralrefer the conflict to an official mediator in the organization. This will usually be someone who has the authority to enforce a solution. 2. Choose a sidereview the arguments, and declare your interests; then you cannot mediate. This will, of course, bring its own set of problems. But in certain instances, for example, when the argument is trivial, it is a less dangerous course of action. 3. Reasonoffer a rational and detailed analysis of the problem, and emphasize the distance between the two sides. The longer and more pessimistic the analysis, the better, since a negative approach shows that you cannot provide a way forward. And if you cannot find a solution, the parties will not want you to mediate. Trying to avoid acting as an unofficial mediator is a delicate operation. You must first engage with the parties to inform them or convince them that you are not going to take on the role, and then withdraw. You must handle this engagement sensitively to prevent it escalating into anger or blame. You should apply the following guidelines: How to referto pass the argument on to an official mediator, convince the warring parties that they need to involve someone who can enforce a decision and that you will be able to do little for them. Always explain what you are going to do and why. Remember that referral needs to be handled sensitively. Do not just go over the heads of your colleagues as if they are naughty children. Ask the advice of the authority figure, but do not force the issue.



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How to choose a sideDeclaring an interest in the argument is risky, so do it early in the process. You use this tactic for trivial arguments, but you should explain that you have a reason for your choiceperhaps one idea has slightly more merit. How to reasondetailing the merits of each argument is close to acting as an unofficial mediator, so do not encourage the parties to explain their arguments. Instead, focus on the fact that the sides are so far apart that you cannot solve the problem.

No matter how well you handle it, declining to act as a mediator may make you unpopular at times. Dealing with conflict is never easy, but at least you will gain your colleagues' respect, even if you do not give them what they want.

Minimizing Bad Feelings in the Workplace

The only way to stop a fire from growing is to stop feeding it. Without fuel, it dies away, and the same applies to conflict. Simple differences of opinion can be fueled and fanned into flame by the workplace atmosphere, until they flare up in raging conflicts. So you have to create an atmosphere that does not feed conflict. Setting a code of conduct Introducing and enforcing professional standards of behavior removes some of the fuel which can turn small disagreements into large fights. The standards should focus on the ways people relate to their colleagues. They should include guidelines to avoid types of behavior that stimulate conflict, such as:


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Gossiptalking about people behind their backs creates suspicion and anger. If you want to criticize someone, do it directly. Do not pass on unofficial rumors, and do not seek unofficial comments from colleagues. Stick to the known facts. Do not speculate. Personal attacksattacking someones personal characteristics serves no useful purpose in the workplace: it just generates bad feelings, and blurs facts. To avoid personal attacks on others, concentrate on performance issues, not character. Disagree with the idea, not the person, and use unemotional language. This is difficult when you are the one being attacked, but that is when it is most important. Favoritismgiving special treatment to particular staff members will anger and de-motivate those that are left out of the golden circle. To avoid provoking such negative reactions, treat everyone fairly and on the basis of merit. Do not make assumptions on the basis of past behavior, either good or bad. Favor no one. If you think that someone will disagree with you, explain why you are acting as you are so that the person understands you have valid reasons for doing so and that your decisions are not driven by favoritism. You cannot eliminate conflict by applying these guidelines. They do not act directly on the causes of the conflict, but on the background environment. They discourage behavior that feeds conflict. The atmosphere of conflict in many organizations is pervasive and destructive. You can transform that atmosphere by changing how you behave with colleagues, thereby setting a good example.


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Source: Managing Conflict in the Organization Role Conflict Definition Consequences


Role definitions workers blame each overlap so that other for not workers are unsure completing the task of who is responsible workers unnecessarily for tasks. repeat the task workers collide as they try to complete the task Workers have too many/few expectations placed on them. workers do not know how to prioritize their work workers dissatisfied with limited demands placed upon them workers cannot comply with expectations colleagues are brought in to conflict because of their expectations of workers expectations lead to inconsistent performance


Simultaneous, different, or Incompatibility contradictory expectations are placed on workers


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Mediation versus Arbitration

Source: Managing Conflict in the Organization Mediation A neutral third party who facilitates a negotiated solution by using reasoning, persuasion, and suggestions for alternatives Could be anyone in the organization Show impartiality Techniques used Act as a facilitator Accept solutions reached by disputants Show a rational element evident in any decision Persuade disputants into agreement if possible Allow disputants to save face Arbitration A third party who has the authority to dictate an agreement


Role requirement

Must be in a position of authority over disputants Listen to both sides of dispute


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Source: Managing Conflict in the Organization The amount of likely conflict between groups increases as their interdependence increases. Adapted from Robbins,1998.
Type Pooled Interdependence Groups operate mainly independently of each other, but both are required to produce the final product. Research and distribution departments will not be dependent on each other, but the final product will require both of their inputs. Sequential Interdependence One-way dependence. One group depends on another for its input. Reciprocal Interdependence Groups exchange inputs and outputs.



Purchasing buys the goods so that all production departments are dependent on it. But the purchasing department is in no way dependent on production departments.

Sales and product development departments rely on each other. The sales department gets product requirements from customers, and product development needs this information to work. But sales needs these products to be developed to sell the goods.

Conflict quotient



high 79

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Rooting Out Conflict

One of the most obvious ways of preventing conflict lies in attempting to eliminate the causes of conflict in the workplace. This simple recipe is based on the assumption that if you remove the causes of conflict, then it will not occur.

Causes of conflict
But despite its apparent simplicity, eradicating the causes of conflict is in fact a more complex process. As a manager, you need to be analytical and practical in deciding which causes of conflict you can and should attempt to remove. The three categories of causes of conflict are: 1. Causes that result in beneficial conflict 2. Causes that you cannot control as a manager 3. Causes that you can control and do want to eradicate because they lead to negative conflict The first two categories you either should not or cannot eliminate. You should not try to eliminate the causes of conflict that have a positive value. This sort of conflict, caused by high professional standards, for example, challenges complacency and slipshod working practices. Some causes of conflict you cannot eliminate because they are outside your sphere of influence. For example, you cannot remove conflict caused by pay comparisons among workers if you do not set the company pay rates.


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Eradicating negative conflict Instead you need to concentrate on the third category: causes you control and want to eradicate. In this category, the major factor is role conflict. Role conflict occurs when duties performed by a worker clash with those of other workers. Getting roles right As a manager, you can expect to exercise a considerable amount of control over the roles your employees play, so you can have great influence in eradicating this cause of conflict. You need to avoid the following problems associated with roles: Role uncertaintyrole ambiguity occurs when workers are uncertain of their actual duties. A task may not be completed because no one knows who is responsible for it, or workers may argue with each other over who is responsible. Role too demandingwhen workers have either too many or too few expectations placed on them, they may end up in conflict situations because they cannot complete the tasks assigned to them or because they feel unchallenged. Role incompatibilityoccurs when contradictory expectations are placed on workers. They are expected to perform certain tasks, but at the same time conflicting demands are placed upon them. This usually results in poor performance. As manager, it is your responsibility to sort out these problems. Resolving role ambiguity You can resolve role ambiguity by precisely defining all roles and making sure that individual responsibilities are clearly communicated. Roles develop spontaneously, so you need to update this information on a regular basis. 81

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Resolving excessively demanding roles To ensure that roles are not too demanding, you need to examine each employee's quantity of work and distribute it evenly. You must explain the way that tasks have to be prioritized and insist that workers stick to this pattern. Resolving role incompatibility To safeguard against role incompatibility, you need to make sure that A always knows what B is doingso get them talking about what they expect of each other. Then you will know what the hidden problems are, and you will be able to sort them out. By tackling role conflict head-on, you can eliminate one of the major causes of conflict that lies in your direct sphere of influence as a manager.

Cultivating Collaborative Culture

As a manager, you must practice what you preach. Being hypocritical only annoys people. If you tell your team members how you want them to behave, you too have to live up to that behavior all the time. This is as true with managing conflict as it is with any other managerial task. Your behavior must signal to your team an approach to conflict that encourages the positive aspects of it and discourages the negative parts. This means developing and maintaining a collaborative culture. A collaborative culture is based on:


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Honest communicationlet everyone know exactly where they stand. Let there be no secrets, ensure everyone is in the loop. Do not assume that you know what people thinkyou might be wrong; instead ask them directly for their views. If you have something to say about somebody, say it to their facedo not go behind their backs to tell someone else, otherwise rumors and suspicion will start to fester. Respect shown to everyoneto get respect from everyone in the organization, you must give it to everyone in the organization; do not reserve it solely for those in high positions. If you respect someone, you treat that person as an equal. It is more than politeness; that can just be patronizing. You need to ask people what they think because you value different perspectives. You do not have to agree with them. A positive attitude toward constructive conflictencourage people to express their views and even to disagree with you; show them that everyone can learn from conflict. But to ensure that conflicts remain positive and do not turn personal and negative, insist that people can criticize a colleague only if they have a better solution to offer. That really makes arguments positive and productive. Creating a collaborative culture through your own actions is essential if you wish to encourage the positive aspects of argument and disagreement in your organization. You can cultivate a collaborative culture by showing respect for everybody, encouraging everyone to communicate effectively, and stimulating constructive conflict within the organization.


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Developing Interpersonal Skills

It takes two to fight. So it is obvious that if, as a manager, you can teach either or both of the disputants how to conduct themselves so they do not end up in destructive conflict, then it is time well spent. Interpersonal skills training is a very effective way to prevent conflict in the workplace. There are many aspects of interpersonal skills training. The ones that are most relevant to the prevention of conflict are: Using attitude tests Developing communication skills Showing how to collaborate This approach to training is based on getting your team members to assess the way they respond to conflict and helping them to behave differently if necessary. It is not saying that they must follow a fixed formula that will apply in all situations. Some people argue that people cannot really change the way they behave. Others believe that interpersonal skills are skills that can be taught in a way similar to the way someone can be taught to play the piano. If you take this approach to interpersonal skills training, then you do have to provide a detailed rationale for each element in the training to explain why it is vital. Attitude tests Attitude testing gives people feedback on their instinctive reactions to conflict. It helps them understand why they are having conflicts and why they act the way they do. It helps you realize, for example, that you are instinctively more disposed to avoiding conflict or, on the other hand, that you relish itthis self-knowledge empowers you. If you want to change your behavior, you can. 84

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Part of this approach is the idea that behavioral change can only come from inside. People only change because they want to. Communication skills Communication must enable you to understand the other person's point of view and effectively present your own viewpoint. If either of the two key elementslistening and expressingfail, then the collaborative approach is jeopardized. Communication needs to be two-way to be effective in preventing conflict. Collaborative techniques Collaboration is a technique of balance that requires individuals to be assertive without being aggressive and to make concessions without surrendering. It also helps people appreciate the value of finding outcomes that are satisfactory to all. These principles are more important than specific ways of acting because they can be adapted to fit a range of conflict situations. To help your team manage conflict more effectively, apply this pattern of interpersonal skills training.

Containing Conflict through Coercion

One aspect of management is exercising control through commanding your team. In other words, if members of the staff are involved in an action and you want to stop them, one of the simplest ways is to ask them to stop. If they do, that is fine, but occasionally they will not. Then you will have to insist. This is the beginning of coercion.


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When to coerce Coercion means making somebody do something by force, and the force that managers apply is in the form of official organizational sanctions. Coercion is a technique for managing conflict that is most likely to be used as an interim stage on the way to finding a longerterm and more profound solution. It does not attempt anything more than containment of the problem. Coercion is best used when the participants in the conflict have become irrational or recalcitrant, or when the conflict is being used as a means to undermine your authority. Irrationalone of the most obvious uses of coercive techniques is when people become irrational. The argument has become so passionate that they cannot be stopped by anything other than an extreme response, such as some form of sanction. Recalcitranta manager may need to use coercion when the people in conflict have repeatedly pretended to stop when asked to do so, but in fact have continued the behavior. In such cases, the argument has become more important than the manager's authority, and this cannot be allowed to continue. Decoy to destabilize youuse coercion when the conflict is immaterial to all parties, but it is being used as an excuse to covertly challenge your will and authority. Then the full range of the technique may need to be applied to show control. The coercive response to resolving conflict is not only best applied in certain situations, but it also has to be cautiously applied as an extreme measure.


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How to coerce Because it is an extreme measure, you should not rush to a full-blown coercive response; you should lead up to it with a graduated response that moves through three stages of severity, depending on the reaction of the protagonists in the conflict. If a request to stop the conflict has been ignored, then as a manager, you must insist with increasing force. As the protagonists continue to ignore your attempts to resolve the problem, your responses must progress accordingly. First response: Tell Telling is not that different from asking, except in the way you phrase and emphasize your statement. This does not mean being impolite, but you are now insisting, not asking. Very often this change in tone will be sufficient to bring people to their senses. Second response:Threaten Passions tend to rule conflict, so you may need to spell out the consequences of ignoring your instructions. This needs to be an appropriate response that is within your authority. You must remain calm and in control. Third response: punish You must be able and willing to impose any sanction you threaten. The rarity of this situation should not diminish your resolve to act as you have said you will. By ignoring you, your team members have forced your hand, and when necessary, you must show them you are in control. Applying sanctions is a last resort, but on rare occasions you will have to use them. 87

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Coercion is not going to cure conflict, and it is not intended to. But in some situations, managers have to stop conflict before they can try to cure it. This is where coercion comes in. You can use these strategies to effectively stop negative behavior in your workplace.

How to Arbitrate
Arbitration is hearing both sides of an argument and then deciding between them. It is a useful way to manage disputes in the organization because by exercising authority in this way, the manager contains the conflict. A couple of colleagues who cannot agree may ask co-workers to help them resolve the conflict. But it is different when a manager acts as an arbitermanagers are more like referees. When managers arbitrate: They do not have to be invited; they have official power and authority to intervene. They do not have to reach a solution that either or both of the parties agree to. Their decision is binding. Arbitration is acting as an authority figure. Although it is not essential that both parties are happy with your decision, arbitration is most successful when the disputing parties are happy with, and accepting of, your imposed decision. That way, not only is your decision more likely to be carried out by them, but it also will have a more positive influence on your future arbitrations. So you need to make sure that the arbitration has certain characteristics. These are:


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Working with both sidesthis does not mean that the disputants necessarily actively participate in the decision you reach, but they should feel that they have been engaged with the process. This must apply equally to both sides, and each party must feel that he had a chance to voice his concerns. Making justifiable decisionsthe decision you reach must be based on justifiable facts and reasons, not on arbitrary opinions and feelings. Then even people who disagree with you will be able to see the legitimacy of your reasoning. Getting buy-in from both sidesif you can get buy-in from both parties, this will be beneficial to arbitration now and in the future. You may have to spend extra time on the process, ensuring that your reasoning is public knowledge and offering explanations as to why you discounted other solutions. Enabling a win-win situationif the disputants feel positive about the process and the way you have engaged them, they will be advocates of arbitration. Their acceptance can encourage a positive attitude about it throughout the organization. Whatever style of arbitration a manager follows, part of the goal is to contain the conflict as successfully as possible. Containing the conflict successfully depends in part on the way the manager acts when conducting the arbitration. You need to consider four techniques for acting as an arbiter that will help to prolong the containment of the conflict. These are: Impartial approachwhatever decision you come to, you must ensure that all parties feel they have been given a fair hearing. This means listening to their complete arguments without any form of prejudgments and avoiding at all costs any form of favoritism.


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Rational resolution, emotional appeal You will contain the conflict longer if your decision is rational and can be justified by facts. But the competitive nature of conflict means that opposing parties may accept a decision more easily if it has emotional appeal, such as being good for the company. Persuasionalthough arbitration is based upon your authority, you should persuade the parties involved of the rightness of the decision. If you can persuade them to see the decision as effective, you will not need to coerce them to accept it, and you will get a long-term solution. Save facesanother arbitration technique is to allow each side to save face. You can do this by adopting any element of their approach that fits with your decision and asking them to be involved in the implementation of the decision. If you want to use arbitration to contain conflict for the long term, you are more likely to get the parties to accept the decision as a permanent end to their conflict if they feel they have been listened to. They might not get their own way, but the decision can still be justified to them, and they can be persuaded that it is right. If that does not satisfy them, an offer to include them in the implementation might sway them by allowing them to save face. Arbitration is more than just making a decision. That is easy, but to persuade your team that it is the right decision and to get them to buy in requires the skills outlined here: listening, rational decisionmaking, persuasion, and face-saving.

How to Mediate
Mediation and arbitration are often confused, but the biggest difference between the two lies in the intervention style of the manager. 90

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Arbitration is an enforced decision made by the manager to resolve the disagreement. During mediation, a manager negotiates an agreement that both parties in the dispute are willing to agree to. Effective mediation requires three distinct elements. Impartialit can be difficult for a manager to be seen as impartial. Usually, if the dispute is between two employees and one of them is in a higher position than the other, a manager would be expected to support the higher-ranking staff member. The best approach, therefore, is to separate issues from peopleexamine the rationale behind each point of view and then explain it to the other side. Facilitationfacilitation requires the manager to help his staff members to reach an agreement in the dispute by aiding the communication between them. This entails three linked actions: first you must establish the position of each party; then you must help each party identify the areas on which they are able to negotiate; and then you must determine how much they will compromise. This is a far less authoritative role than is required for arbitration. Stimulation mediation needs a solution acceptable to all. So support ways of moving toward a solution, whether you agree with them or not, and when the negotiation starts to falter, suggest alternative compromises. This requires managers to exercise less control of the outcome of the intervention. Another part of the difference in style between arbitration and mediation is the time that the processes take. Because of the greater demands of a negotiated rather than an authoritative process, mediation is likely to require more of a manager's time. But even if this is the case, you will find that it is time well spent if it results in a compromise that all parties can live with.


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Using these mediation strategies will help you to effectively manage conflict amongst employees.

Setting Goals to Eliminate Conflict

One of the factors that makes an organization harmonious is common goals. On the other hand, a big cause of conflict in organizations is conflicting goals. When parts of the organization are pulling in different directions, then it is really easy for staff members to experience conflict. Setting common goals To avoid conflict, it is important for you to ensure that everyone in your organization is working towards the same aims. The most effective way to set goals to resolve conflict is to think of them as being targeted at three levels: individual, team, and organization. This will help to ensure that you have covered all situations. Each level will help you achieve a different type of goal. There are three types of goals: 1. Supreme goalsupreme goals supersede individual goals. Organizations are made up of many individuals. If you want to resolve conflict, you must ensure that there is a supreme goal that drives everybody. Any individual aims that people pursue must fit in with this overall purpose so that potential clashes can be sorted out easily. 2. Cooperative goalsthese are goals that require team members to work together. They encourage teamwork. Teams show the need for, and the benefit of, cooperative goals. Conflict is resolved because cooperation is essential to achieve these goals. This makes cooperative goals a long-term solution to conflict. 92

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3. Challenging goalsthese goals unite everyone in the organization. Even when common goals exist in an organization, they can easily be taken for granted, meaning conflict can appear. One remedy is to develop challenging organizational goals that temporarily supersede the ignored common goal: for example, the goal of surviving an external threat. Goal-setting techniques are a valuable part of a manager's armory. They have to be precisely applied in particular ways to resolve conflict.You will need to consider carefully what you will do to ensure that setting common goals has the maximum impact on resolving conflict. Applying supreme goals Supreme goals are the most typical form of common goals. Their application is therefore straightforward. Ensure that they are clear and understandable and that they really do drive all actions. Use this supremacy to resolve conflict. Applying cooperative goals Cooperative goals resolve conflict when individuals on the team see his or her role as equally valuable in achieving the goal. But this will not resolve future conflict if some individuals receive less credit from the achievement than othersso make sure that everyones efforts are equally recognized and rewarded. Applying challenging goals Challenging goals have to be exactly that to resolve conflict. They must be sufficiently urgent so that anything that could derail them, like conflict, is eradicated. An effective method is to stress the fallout from missing the goal. 93

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Goal-setting techniques are used by many organizations as an effective way of managing. When you use them to resolve conflict, you are adding another significant dimension to their value to managers.

Re s o l v i n g C o n f l i c t t h r o u g h E f f e c t i v e Communication
Ineffective communication can cause conflict. Wherever there is a lack of clarity, confusion and conflict can develop. A manager must ensure that communication is effective and does not lead to conflict. Managers should concern themselves with three aspects of communication in order to improve or reduce the likelihood of unnecessary and destructive conflict occurring in their organization. Encouraging the use of unambiguous termsensure that the language you use is clear to everybody and not open to misinterpretation. Be specificfor example, writing come in at 9 oclock leaves no room for misunderstanding, unlike come in early. It employees are likely to come across technical terms that may be unfamiliar to them, then it would be worth taking a proactive step by, for example, distributing glossaries. Ensuring that sufficient information is available when it is most needed everyone working on a task should have the right amount of information needed to effectively accomplish this task; if different parties have different amounts of information, then confusion can develop.


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For example, if one person has not been kept up to date of a policy change, that person will continue working in the same way as before and may risk incurring the anger of his or her colleagues who believe he or she is deliberately disobeying the policy change. Both parties need the same basic information to understand one another, because both assumptions and ignorance lead to conflict. Using appropriate and accessible channelsit is essential that the medium you choose to convey information is appropriate for the audience you hope to reach. There is no point, for example, in posting memos on the intranet, if the people you want to read them cannot easily access the intranet. The basic key to making communication work for you to resolve conflict in your workplace is to control communication so that it works for you and not against you. Research suggests that too much, as well as too little, communication can cause conflict. In addition, the wrong forms of communication certainly cause conflict. Use common languageyou need to make sure that language is common to the entire staff. This should involve as much joint training and interchange of ideas among workers as possible. Supplement this with a rigorous ban on jargon and a plainspeaking campaign. Control the amount of information given to your stafftoo much is as dangerous as too little. So identify the appropriate amount, and avoid the temptation to say more than you have to. Conversely, do not hold back information. Stick to formal information channelsthe channel through which information is passed is vital. Stick to formal systems as much as possible because you can control them by and using a direct method. Conflict can occur when others are involved, especially if they begin to gossip. 95

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Communication tends to be an instinctive and unconscious activity for most people. But careless communication can so easily lead to conflict. By consciously taking steps to manage communication in your organization, you can resolve existing and potential conflict.

Eliminating Structural Sources of Conflict

Many companies have structural problems that cause conflict, and as a manager, you need to know what they are and how to deal with them to reduce blockages and malfunctions in your organization. There are three elements of an organizations structure that if improperly managed, can hamper workflow and lead to conflict. They are: 1. Reporting arrangements and lines of responsibilityif more than one person is authorized to give instructions to the same employee, then that employee may find him or herself torn between different instructions. This impedes smooth work and sooner or later will lead to conflict. 2. Control of resourcesif an employee does not have ready access to the resources she needs to perform the task she has been assigned, she immediately becomes dependent on somebody else to do her job properly. This opens up the possibility for conflict. 3. Inter-relationships of tasks and functionsif there is no coordination between people working on different aspects of the same task, then there is the potential for one to prevent the other from effectively working, thereby sowing the seeds of conflict. These structural issues are significant because they are the junction points at which workers in the company meet. And like junction points on any road, the traffic has to flow and be managed. The task facing you as a manager is to control and coordinate the interaction of your staff members at these major junction points. 96

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You can do this by addressing the three factors that lead to confusion and conflict interdependence, task uncertainty, and incompatible time framesand managing them appropriately. Interdependence The key issue here is how some workers, either individually or in teams, can only operate by cooperating and coordinating with others. They are interdependent, and this arrangement can cause problems because each side has legitimate ways of operating within its own context, but which may impede the other side from operating effectively. Task uncertainty The design of the tasks that workers perform affects the likelihood of conflict. Routine tasks cause few problems, but tasks that are uncertain require much more unprogrammed interaction with others. This is a conflict zone. Incompatible time frames The time scale by which staff members operate needs examination. Short time scales often clash with longer time scales as workers perform tasks. For example, a research orientation might collide with a production orientation. Workflow problems are a visible sign of structural problems. When addressing them, bear in mind the following techniques.


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Avoiding too much interdependence Avoid conflict by ensuring that those who have responsibility for getting the task done control the necessary resources. Uncertainty about who controls the budget is dangerous. Effective planning and accountability are vital. Avoiding task uncertainty To avoid conflict, you must actively ensure that a worker has only one boss. Do not leave this problem to sort itself out. Even when two managers are happy to share control, beware of future problems. Formal organization charts are very useful but must be updated. Avoiding incompatible time frames Task and support functions must be coordinated to be cooperative. Locate support personnel within the physical location of the task when necessary to create good working relationships. Insist on clear reporting arrangements between support staff members and their managers. Interdependence, task uncertainty, and time orientation relate to structural elements that managers need to have under control. Structural issues can cause considerable conflict. By using the techniques explained above, you can resolve a large element of conflict in your organization with some simple remedies. Managing conflict is likely to take about one-third of your time. So whether you want to decrease that time or just make more efficient use of it, use these techniques as a guide.


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Conflict Resolution
The ability to resolve conflict is one of the most important skills a leader can possess. Conflicts arise in everyday situations between leaders and members over both organizational and personal issues.

Styles Of Conflict Management Competing

Individual pursues his/her interests at anothers expense. This is a power-oriented mode which could mean standing up for your rights, defending a position, or simply trying to win. Positives: Quick decision or action needed, enforcing unpopular rules, protection against aggression, survival. Negatives: Resource wasting, power struggle, generates hostility and other negative feelings that go underground.

Individual neglects his/her own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person. Might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying orders, yielding to anther persons point of view. Positives: Issue is more important to the other person, when harmony is especially important, building up social credits for later more important issues. Negatives: Your needs are not met, minimizes your respect, influence and status, could build anger.

Individual does not immediately pursue his/her own concerns or those of the other person. In other words, does not address the conflict. Might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping the issue, postponing the issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation. 99

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Positives: Issue is trivial, cool down, need for more data, potential damage outweighs potential of resolution. Negatives: Your input is not available, your needs are not met, may require more energy to avoid than to deal with conflict in another way.

Individual seeks to find expedient, mutually acceptable solution which somewhat satisfies both parties needs. It might mean splitting the difference, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground. Positives: Temporary settlement to complex issues, both parties are partially satisfied, expedient outcomes under time pressure. Negatives: Takes time and energy, neither party is fully satisfied, less commitment to implementation of decision.

Individual attempts to work with the other person to find some solution which fully satisfies the concerns of both parties. Positives: Uses resources of both parties, builds ownership and commitment, high quality outcome. Negatives: Takes time and energy, trust and openness may be taken advantage of, requires high level of skills, might not be possible. Collaboration is the style most recommended for student organizations because it allows both parties to be fully satisfied, it allows for creativity in developing resolution, and it gives participants a sense of accomplishment that they have together resolved the issue without losing anything. 100

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How to use the collaborating approach to deal with conflict in student organizations
1. Determine the nature of the conflict. Is it a philosophical issue (drinking at socials) or a difference of expectations (all members of the group should determine every decision that the group makes)? 2. State the real effect the conflict has on you. (If all members get to vote on everything, it will take us a long time to make decisions and some things may not get done since we only meet twice a month.) 3. Listen carefully to the other person. What is the real effect on them? What do they see as the conflict? 4. Initiate the problem-solving process:
? issue. What is the real problem/issue at hand? Clarify the ?each persons wants and needs. Discuss ? a list of all possible solutions. Be creative. Generate ? Decide together on the solution most acceptable to both

? Discuss how solution will be implemented. ? process to evaluate solution after specified time. Develop ?how discrepancies/problems with solution will be Discuss


Techniques for dealing with upset people

1. People in a state of high emotion cannot participate in conflict resolution until their feelings have been acknowledged. 2. To calm upset people


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? Speak softly, even though they are yelling. Soon they will

quiet down. Let them tell you why they are angry. ? Dont interrupt. Use active listening techniques clarify, paraphrase, summarize, and validate. ? Use positive body language lean toward them slightly, sit in an pen position (dont fold or cross arms), look them in the eye (if White European). ? yourself as an advocate and not an adversary. Use Establish phrases like: I want to understand I can see that this is very frustrating ? Offer immediate assistance if possible, even if it is something very small. ? Thank them for bringing it to your attention. Give them a time line when youll get back to them or when a decision will be made or action taken.


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How to Reduce Interpersonal Conflict

All of us have trouble in getting along with one or another of our associates. A little bit of conflict is evitable and also is not incompatible with basic harmony. There are, however, ways of reducing misunderstanding and conflict. Here are some points to think over: 1. Dont be surprised at disagreement or conflict: With our different backgrounds, experiences and motivations, it is inevitable that we will fail to view every situation in the same way. Very often this can be productive. 2. Interpersonal conflict is best confronted, not smoothed over, denied or run away from. 3. Often the real difficulty is that the people involved in a conflict have never shared their expectations of one another with one another. 4. Beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a prophecy that we tend to make about the future behaviour of another person, which proves to be true, not because weve read the future accurately but because we believe in such a manner towards the other person as to make him/her behave in the manner predicted. 5. When we are annoyed with a colleague, it is often better to express that annoyance appropriately. Small negative feelings are like the warning lights on a machine. If disregarded (in this case, suppressed), they will later lead to a major breakdown. Expression of these negative feelings in terms of our own feelings and not as facts about the other, rather than injuring a relationship, often moves it to a deeper level.


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6. We all have unsure feelings towards authority. We like it and we also dont like it. Good bosses realize that some of the negative feelings expressed towards themselves are there, not because of personal shortcomings but quite simply because they have authority. They should, therefore, be ready to absorb nondefensively a certain amount of negative feelings. 7. Dont be surprised at disagreement or conflict: With our different backgrounds, experiences and motivations, it is inevitable that we will fail to view every situation in the same way. Very often this can be productive. 8. Interpersonal conflict is best confronted, not smoothed over, denied or run away from. 9. Often the real difficulty is that the people involved in a conflict have never shared their expectations of one another with one another. 10.Beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a prophecy that we tend to make about the future behaviour of another person, which proves to be true, not because weve read the future accurately but because we believe in such a manner towards the other person as to make him/her behave in the manner predicted. 11.When we are annoyed with a colleague, it is often better to express that annoyance appropriately. Small negative feelings are like the warning lights on a machine. If disregarded (in this case, suppressed), they will later lead to a major breakdown. Expression of these negative feelings in terms of our own feelings and not as facts about the other, rather than injuring a relationship, often moves it to a deeper level.


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12.We all have unsure feelings towards authority. We like it and we also dont like it. Good bosses realize that some of the negative feelings expressed towards themselves are there, not because of personal shortcomings but quite simply because they have authority. They should, therefore, be ready to absorb nondefensively a certain amount of negative feelings.