Akkademia di Psicopolis
Team Development and Organisational Development as Means for Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution (Rudi Ballreich & Friedrich Glasl )

In this article, we identify five levels of cooperation within teams: the individual members, the content level, the interaction level, the procedural level and the level that governs the quality of external relations of the group to its environment. Each of these levels can be a source of conflict potential and therefore a good starting point for efforts at conflict resolution. We offer a number of suggestions for addressing conflict within teams at all these levels. In particular, we propose the rethinking of individual roles and of methods of team decision-making.

It is also essential, if conflict potential is to be properly addressed, to correctly diagnose the team's level of development: `Forming / Storming' (team constitutes itself; team members assume individual roles), `Norming' (group reaches rational agreements, aimed at maximising the effectiveness of its performance), `Performing' (group clarifies issues on the rational, emotional and intentional levels) and `Reforming' (group learns how to reconstitute itself on short notice and to structure its interactions and working methods creatively).

For each of these phases, we assess conflict potentials and opportunities for conflict management. As they come to understand these, teams will find that they are more able to quickly recognise conflicts at their inception and constructively approach them with all the means at their disposal.

Rudi Ballreich studied arts and pedagogic, worked as a teacher and in school management for 14 years. Since 1994 he has been an independent consultant and trainer in organisational and personnel development. As such he focuses on processes of change, strategy development and conflict resolution as well as training in group dynamics, team work and conflict management.

Friedrich Glasl is a political scientist, economist, business consultant and lecturer for Organisational Development and Conflict Management at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He is the author of several books and articles on conflict management in organisations, public administration and international politics.

Indice


I. Introduction........................................................................................................................1

II. Teams as Potential for Conflict.....................................................................................1

III. Potential for Conflict at the Five Levels of Teamwork ........................................... 3
III.1 The Individual Group Member as Potential for Conflict ...................................... 3
III.2 The Content of the Issue Level as Potential for Conflict ..................................... 4
III.3 The Interaction of Psychosocial Level as Potential for Conflict ........................ 5
III.4 The Procedure Method Level and its Potential for Conflict .............................. 9
III.5 External Relations as Potential for Conflict .........................................................15



IV. Development Phases of Teams ...................................................................................19
IV.1 Phase 1: Forming and Storming Finding and Coming Together ...................21
IV.2 Phase 2: Norming Creating one's own Rules ................................................... 22
IV.3 Phase 3: Performing and Performance Capability ............................................ 24
IV.4 Phase 4: Reforming Self-Structuring and the Ability to Change ................. 25


V. Team Development and Conflict Resolution ............................................................ 28
V.1 At the Level of the Individual Group Member ....................................................... 30
V.2 At the Content-Specific Level Issue Level ............................................................31
V.3 At the Interaction Level Psychosocial Level ........................................................31
V.4 At the Procedure / Method Level ............................................................................. 33
V.5 At the External Relations Level ............................................................................... 33

VI. The Embodiment of Team Development Within the
Larger Organisation ......................................................................................................... 34

VII. Conclusions and Open Questions ........................................................................... 35

VIII. Reference and Further Reading...............................................................................37

I n t r o d u z i o n e

Teams are defined as work groups that are charged with the fulfilment of a performance task which requires joint cooperation. This distinguishes them clearly from other groups, which might instead seek to attain individual learning results that are acquired in groups, or merely cultivate social and other forms of contacts.

In order to achieve this desired performance, good conditions must either exist or be created at all five levels within the team. The five levels of teamwork are defined as follows:

1. Individual group members: this is a function of the individual personalities, as well as of their perceptions, concepts and ideas, emotions, intentions and behaviours.
2. Content, issue level: the focus here is on the issue topic, and on the task to be performed.
3. Interaction, psychosocial level: the mutual attitudes of the group members are important, as well as the state of relations between them, and the observed climate, roles, and behaviour patterns.
4. Procedure, method level: techniques of problem-solving in a team, such as analysis methods, decision methods, creativity techniques, formal internal rules for the team, and use of auxiliary means.
5. External group relations: the way in which information and contacts are cultivated with the rest of the organisation including rules regarding deputising.

Each of these five levels can spawn potential for conflict and can therefore also be a good starting point for conflict resolution. As the levels are also mutually networked, they can also influence each other and thus create further indirect potential for conflict. The dynamics of a group are, consequently, complicated and difficult to analyse. Often a problem will arise at one level, for instance on level 4, if a complex decision is to be taken with unsuitable methods, but be manifested for example at level 3 (interaction = psychosocial level), as team relations become burdened by mutual irritation. Finally, this could conceivably lead to further consequences at level 1 (the individual group member), if one person chooses to leave the group, depriving the team of his or her knowledge and skills.

Continua........