How management teams can have a good fight? Everyone has his own answer. Related to O.B., what’s the new answer? In the case study, we discussed about “the forgotten group member” as group. We talked about “yes or no”, “why” and “how”. Every member can have his own idea, but we must reach an agreement as our group’s conclusion. This process is called “decision making”. During this process, if all the members’ own ideas are the same, that’s perfect! But most of the time the fact is someone says “yes”, and someone says “no”, and when we met the question like “why” and “how”, the answers became even more. Then the group meets an issue named “conflict”. This article, by Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Jean L. Kahwaly, and L. J. Bourgeios Ⅲ, focuses on conflict in the processes of the team decision making. Let’s return to the first question that how management teams can have a good fight. The business professors make their research based on observing how the groups managing the interpersonal conflicts. The research about interplay of conflict, polictics, and speed in strategic decision making by top management teams last for 10 years. The objects to be observed are 12 top-management teams in technology-based companies.
As shown, in 4 of the 12 companies, there was little or no substantive disagreement over major issues and therefore little conflict to observe. And the other 8 companies experienced considerable conflict. In 4 of the 8 companies, the top-management teams handled conflict in a way that avoided interpersonal hostility or discord. Managers in those companies referred to their colleagues as smart, team player, and best in the business. They described the way they work as a team as open, fun, and productive. The managers vigorously debated the issues, but they wasted little time on politicking and posturing. The other 4 companies in which issues were contested were less successful at avoiding interpersonal conflict. The executives used words such as manipulative, secretive, burned out, and political to describe their colleagues. What made the difference between the 2 types of teams? The authors identify 6 key tactics used by all of the teams that were able to keep interpersonal conflict to a minimum. * Focus on the facts
* Multiply the alternatives
* Create common goals
* Use humor
* Balance the power structure
* Seek consensus with qualification
1. Focus on the facts
It means more information more better.
Let’s compare the 2 groups of words:
Which do you think is more personal?
When we talk about the left group, mostly we summarize it as “subjective”. The right group is usually summarized as “objective”. The teams with minimal interpersonal conflicts always work with more, rather than less objective and current information and data, such as reviewed bookings, backlogs, margins, engineering milestones, cash, scrap, and work-in-process every week or every month. Some team even claims to “measure everything”. Facts encourage people to focus on issues, not personalities and let people move quickly to the central issues surrounding a strategic choice. Building decisions on facts creates a culture that emphasizes issues instead of personalities. Therefore, the debate will be much more constructive.
2. Multiply the alternatives
It means more options, more better.
Look at the picture,
If I ask that what’s this or whether this is the sun or the moon, there are only 2 alternatives. Thus usually we easily fall into the arguments about black and white. Multiple options allow more exploration of the gray areas, and lead to more creative solutions that integrate key points of the various alternatives. Maybe you can say this is a cake, an egg, or anything else. Someone maybe consider that more choices can increase the conflict, but the research shows that multiple alternatives can lower...