However, as has been stated, teams are not put together solely on the basis of interpersonal compatibility but for the optimal configuration of skill sets. It happens that individuals do not get along; a manager can help alleviate tensions with good communications skills. In the case of self-managed teams, however, the role of peacemaker or taskmaster is much less clearly defined. Individuals may or may not take it upon themselves to deal with a problem employee. Some individuals may choose to ignore the problem to the best of their ability, in some cases doing more work or working outside their scope of expertise in order to compensate. Other individuals may become confrontational, causing tension on the team and making its work efforts less effective. Langfred (2007) noted that teams may "unintentionally restructure themselves inefficiently in response to conflict." His longitudinal study examined the effects of task conflict, where self-managed team members had differing views and opinions on goal-setting, goal attainment and different work process issues. The study provides further support for the work of Li and Butler (2004), who showed that goals were better realized when defined and assigned from outside the team. The popularity of self-managed teams can make that a less viable option, leaving teams to try to work it out on their own.
Langfred (2007) reported that team members who do not trust one another are unwilling to give each other more freedom and discretion over individual work. Team efforts may ultimately be compromised as members seek balance. They may settle for an inferior end result because the process whereby they achieved it was less difficult. Decisions made in response to conflict avoidance may often be less than ideal, yet studies of group dynamics show this can often be the case. Langfred's work points to the need for further work on the concept of self-managing teams and what organizations can do to facilitate success. The benefits of such teams are apparent, but it is also apparent that the same benefits can be negatives.
A possible solution is training by the organization in team communication skills, so that employees are prepared to lead teams or become part of self-managed teams. Providing employees with information, engaging them in team building activities prior to team work, and facilitating role playing activities may all contribute to better team practices. Employees can hopefully increase self-awareness and self-esteem, both of which would enable them to better understand and interact with others. Organizations can engage employees in these activities prior to assignment of team projects so that they have time to develop the skills needed for collaborative work...
Interpersonal communications can present challenges, particularly when dealing with individuals whose interpersonal skills are lacking. An understanding of personality types and team dynamics can help employees at all levels work more successfully toward achievement of the organization's goals.
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