Written by Karelyn Farrand (former SDSU Extension Regional 4-H Youth Program Advisor).
Not all conflict is between two individuals, sometimes it is between or within groups of people. In these situations working as a team instead of a group will be beneficial to resolving a conflict. Knowing the differences between a group and a team will assist your group in working as a team which will lead to resolving any conflict that you may have more constructively.
Characteristics of Group Members and Team Members are quite different when it comes to conflict resolution and team success. When a work group begins to work as a team they will find productivity and efficiency will improve. Not only will their output increase but they will also begin to monitor themselves and resolve internal team conflicts.
See the Characteristics of Group Members and Team Members below.
- Work independently – often not working toward same goal.
- Focus mostly on themselves due to not included in planning group goals.
- Given tasks and their duties, rarely asked for ideas.
- Hesitant to speak and ask questions, due to not fully knowing what is happening in the group.
- Lack trust of fellow members due to not understanding each member’s role in the group.
- May have much to contribute but do not due to not knowing the other members well.
- Bothered or threatened by differing opinions and disagreements.
- Lack group support to resolve problems.
- May or may not participate in group decision making. Conformity valued over positive results.
- Work interdependently and toward personal and team goals.
- Understand goals are accomplished best by mutual support and working together.
- Feel a sense of ownership toward their group role because they helped create the goals.
- Collaborate with other members, all talents and experience are used to meet goals.
- Success is based on trusting other members and encouraging other member’s input.
- Intentionally try to be honest, respectful and listen to every member’s point of view.
- Encouraged to offer knowledge and skills, each member gives to the goals and success.
- See conflict as part of being human and see it as a time to hear new ideas.
- Want to resolve problems constructively.
- Participate equally in the decision making process but understands if the group cannot reach consensus the team leader may need to make the final decision.
Working as a team will not eliminate all conflict from your group or with other groups. However, working as a team will provide you with the necessary tool to resolve your conflict constructively.
- Take A Stand Curriculum, AgriLife Extension, September, 2009.
- Teamwork & Conflict Resolution, George N. Root, Houston Chronicle, Small B