Shogun or Gung Ho?
Team Conflict or Team Work?
Sue Coffer and Kristi Gilliam (TNU 2005)
competitiveness is directly related to its ability to use the skills
and knowledge of their people effectively” (Williams, Lewis, and
Stevens). Does your organization fully benefit from its team
members’ skills and knowledge? Or are conflicts holding them back?
The authors of the
book Management of Organizational Behavior: Leading Human
Resources reveals, “A team is a formal work group”
(Hersey, Blanchard, and Johnson 320). The team at my workplace is a
true work team; we work from the same work queue each day. Each
team member works separately but towards the same goal. My work
team is comprised of 12 individuals from different cultures with
different skills and work ethics. In the article “The Wisdom of
Crowds,” James Surowiecki states that “A group with diverse
knowledge and skills will almost always make a better decision than
one or two experts” (3). However, this diversity also often makes
for a very interesting workday.
While one of the
most important aspects of a successful team is to have a team that
works well together towards the common work goal, this is often very
difficult because of the different personalities and work ethics.
When my team is working together, it is very effective and one can
almost feel the momentum building within the team. However, when
there is conflict among the team members it can destroy and break
down the entire team. In effect, conflict within teams can destroy
The conflicts that
I have seen among teams in my organization are many. There are
often power struggles among team members. When this happens, it
results in hurt feelings, anger, and often withdrawal from the
team. There are also the issues of finger pointing and
accusations. People usually work at different skill levels with
each person stronger in one area than another. When a team is not
functioning as a true team there are often members among the team
who feel others are not pulling their weight. This can also break
down a team. Finally, one of the biggest problems in the team
environment is often accountability or “the buy in.” Team members
tend to rely on other people to get the work done. The members of a
team must be accountable for their individual work. Each team
member must pull his or her weight, whatever that may be, towards
the goal of the team.
The book Gung
Ho! Turn on the People in Any Organization reveals the
many ways to turn a team around and create a productive, profitable,
and employee-friendly environment. The book describes in three
steps how a team can ignite and become a working machine. It
explains how to build moral among the team members, which is
essential. The book then describes the importance of making the
team members accountable for their work. The last step clarifies
congratulations and details the effect of celebration. If an
organization buys into the "Gung Ho" way and teaches the employees
as the book describes, energy will be created among the team members
and conflict will be reduced.
Make the teamwork
“worthwhile.” According to Andy Longclaw, the teacher of Gung Ho
in the book, “There are three lessons to learn in this step: First,
the work has to be understood as important. Second, it has to lead
to a well-understood and shared goal. Third, values have to guide
all plans, decisions, and actions. Put all three together and
you’ve got worthwhile work” (Blanchard and Bowles 29).
The first lesson:
The team needs to realize that the work that they do is more than
just important. Team members need to understand that the work they
do helps others. As Mr. Longclaw explained, “People have to
understand how what they do contributes to the well-being of
humankind . . .” (Blanchard and Bowles 30).
The second lesson:
Everyone in a team works towards the same goals. The manager should
set the main goals and let the team members should define the rest.
These goals should be challenging, but within reach.
The third lesson:
Decide what values are important to your team. Some ideas from the
article “The Discipline of Teams” include “encourage listening and
responding constructively to views expressed by others, giving other
the benefit of the doubt, providing support, and recognizing the
interests and achievements of others” (Katzenbach and Smith 110).
These values will guide the actions of each team member.
The focus of step
two is control over the goals. Mr. Longclaw is not the only person
who believes that management should allow employees to have control
over setting their own team’s goals. Katzenbach and Smith state a
similar idea, “…management must also leave enough flexibility for
the team to develop commitment around its own …purpose, set specific
goals, timing, and approach” (112-113). When team members set their
own goals, they are more committed to their work. While teams
should set realistic goals, they should also be encouraged to
stretch a little. This is not only for the sake of the company, but
also for each team member’s personal growth.
The values that
were set in Step One come into play at this point. Team members
need to respect each member of the team. Each person should follow
the “Golden Rule of Management: Value individuals as persons”
(Blanchard and Bowles 172).
Step three is about
celebrating. Not only is it important to applaud the successes, but
also to cheer on the progress that each team member makes. Also, be
sure to celebrate the behaviors you want to see more. For instance,
since good communication is important within a team, an idea
expressed by Bill Treasurer was to “Reward team members who give
others the heads-up on changing circumstances, updated information,
or potential risks.” (qtd. in Michelman 3)
This is the idea of
the “GUNG HO GAME PLAN” to reduce team conflict and make working
within the team more enjoyable. Understand that the work is
worthwhile, control the goals, and celebrate the successes are the
three steps of this plan. Once employees learn these steps, the
results are full GUNG HO!
Blanchard, Ken, and
Sheldon Bowles. Gung Ho! New York: Morrow, 1998 Hersey, Paul,
Kenneth H. Blanchard, and Dewey E. Johnson. Management of
Organizational Behavior: Leading Human Resources. New Jersey:
Prentice Hall, 2001
Katzenbach, J.R. and
Douglas K. Smith. “The Discipline of Teams.” Harvard Business
Review On Point.
Michelman, Paul. “How
Will You Make Your Team a Team?” Harvard Management Update.
Surowiecki, James. “The
Wisdom of Crowds.” Soundview Executive Book Summaries. 27:5
Williams, Evelyn, Lisa
Lewis, and Craig Stevens. “Yes You Can Achieve Excellent
Management!” 13 July 2005