Working in groups and teams
Working in groups and teams

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5.7 Arriving at consensus in a team

Conflict is perhaps most likely to arise in team work during decision-making. You can help to avoid unnecessary conflict by ensuring that individuals see and understand the logic of what you are proposing, by exploring and discussing the proposals and by making sure there is agreement before proposals are finalised. Some guidelines are:

  1. Present a position logically, pointing out strengths and weaknesses and illustrating with examples.
  2. Try to avoid using your extra power as team leader or manager.
  3. Demonstrate the benefits as well as any disadvantages of the proposal.
  4. Avoid changing your mind or agreeing with something because this is easier than promoting or defining what you regard as a good proposal.
  5. Remember that consideration of a variety of ideas and opinions is likely to be constructive.
  6. Make sure that everybody has access to all the information needed to reach considered opinions.

Sometimes during the life of a team, conflict can run so high that communication is impaired and intervention may be necessary. At such times, the team will need to examine its own progress. Here, the manager or leader will need to:

  • ensure that behaviour between members is appropriate
  • reinforce and support desirable behaviour
  • be prepared to raise the issue of inappropriate behaviour
  • create a sense of fairness by empowering or sharing power across team members
  • make sure the team goals are shared.
(Source: adapted from Hill and Farkas, 2001)

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