Group Communication at Work – Part 2

In the previous article on group communication, we discovered the five stages of group development. Today, we shall learn something new: the seven steps to resolve conflict in a work group.

Seven Steps to Resolve Group Conflicts

In simplified terms, a group is when two or more people affiliate and interact to attain the same goals. However, as problems can occur anywhere, these are also inevitable at work and in groups.

The following stages refer to the seven steps required to solve a group conflict as introduced in the book, “Communicating at work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Profession.” by Ronald B. Adler and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst.

1. Define the Problem

When a group faces a problem at work, questions may arise, such as, “What to do?” or “How to solve this problem?”

The first step is to actually define the problem. How can someone effectively solve a problem without knowing what the problem is? The group needs to accurately understand the problem so as proper and genuine information can be collected to solve it.

2. Analyse the Problem

The second step now is to analyse the problems faced by members of the group. There is a need to learn more about the issues through critical observation and asking around. Once the research is done and the information reviewed, the causes of the issues have now likely been identified by the group. For instance, some causes of conflict in the workplace include poor management, unfair treatment, poor communication, bullying or improper training.

3. Build Criteria for the Solution

Even if causes have been identified, problems have not yet been solved!

The third step consists of establishing a criterion for the solution where each member of the group will contribute and give a possible solution to the problem. As all members will have different perspectives, different types of solutions will be proposed. In this stage, the group will also consider which next steps to take and what work protocols say about these problems and their solutions.

4. Considering All Possible Solutions

The fourth stage is about putting forth all the solutions provided by the group members and then taking each of them into consideration. The group has to study and examine what the different implications of each solution are.

For instance, for some cases, giving official warnings to the culprits might be enough or if a serious offence was committed, then the Disciplinary Committee might need to be called. Some business organisations might even go to the extent of firing a problematic employee. If the worker refuses to apologize, the case can be taken to arbitration, and the company can hire a lawyer to handle the matter.

5. A Final Choice Has to Be Made

This is the stage where the final solution needs to be decided upon. The decision is usually made after taking into consideration many factors such as the costs and benefits of all solutions provided.

For instance, firing an employee will necessitate interviewing and appointing a replacement. This is not only a time-consuming process, but also involves losing an experienced worker. Besides, the option of hiring a lawyer might cost a lot of money to a company. So, a company might favour issuing an official warning or calling upon the disciplinary committee instead.

6. Implement the Solutions

Now, that the final choice has been made, it is time to adopt it. For instance, an official warning might be given to a worker or the disciplinary committee might decide to suspend an employee for a few months.

7. Follow-Up Procedure

After the implementation of the solutions, there needs to be a thorough follow-up. This will ensure the solution is effective and achieved the desired results, and has hopefully led to better management and communication.

What do you think of these seven steps? Effective or not? Please share your comments!

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