Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.8. Explore strategies for creating a positive working environment in a team

ryanrori February 7, 2021

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Organisational goals have to be clearly defined and communicated to all employees in order to prevent confusion and conflict.  This is important in teams and groups to create a positive working environment.

To create a participative environment:

  • Pay attention and listen to team members in order to learn their point of view to establish rapport between yourself and them
  • Ask for information.  Ask team members for facts, as opposed to opinions or suggestions about a topic
  • Give information.  Facts that are theoretically confirmable by others
  • Establish expectations.  That team members have for one another and for their joint efforts as a team
  • Say thank you.  For working towards consensus and towards a common goal
  • Respond to feelings.  Communicate that you understand how team members feel about an issue.
  • Keep attention focused.  Call the attention of the group to a particular statement or event to highlight what has been said or done, or to bring the group back to its main focus.
  • Confront.  In a pleasant way be able to tell members of an inconsistency between their current statement or action and previous statements or actions, or be able to tell them that what they are saying does not match the facts
  • Be a role model.  Demonstrate behaviour that team members should copy
  • Act quickly.  Do not let problems fester and infect more and more people
  • When a problem surfaces, immediately tackle it and sort it out before it becomes major
  • Resolve conflict.  Act as a neutral and impartial facilitator to resolve conflict or avoid escalation of conflict.

Apart from being clear on the goals of the team, the members need to realise the importance of interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success and that they all play an important role in ensuring this.

Interdependence

Interdependence relies on behaviours founded on sharing, openness, acceptance, support and personal wholeness.  It is based on the idea that if “we win, I win.”  Interdependence, therefore, means that two or more people appreciate and rely on each other’s strengths, and are mutually responsible for their own limitations.  Because interdependence requires self-awareness and appreciation for others, it demands high levels of emotional maturity and self-esteem. 

What behaviours destroy interdependence?

  • Management believes they can change people
  • Management believes they have all the answers
  • Management believes they must solve all the problems themselves
  • Allowing people to blame co-workers for systems problems
  • Allowing an Us and Them attitude to thrive in the workplace

What behaviours build interdependence?

  • Win-win problem solving and the reduction in win-lose and lose-lose conflict solutions
  • When procedural and communication errors transpire between people—apologise and forgive 
  • Teambuilding 
  • Facilitating management practices
  • Allowing workers to change ineffective work procedures that directly affect them
  • Building a sense of responsibility and accountability among managers and workers 

Genuineness

Genuineness is a personal quality each person needs to bring to the team.  It promotes sincere, honest, respectful and direct communication in an open and responsible way.  Obstacles that most often impede genuine behaviour stem from both internal and external sources.  Internal obstacles include fear of change, abandonment and being wrong.  This results in reality avoidance, dishonesty, rationalisation and performance anxiety.  External obstacles focus on fear of repercussions. 

What behaviours destroy genuineness? 

  • Triangulation or allowing people to discuss concerns and complaints with co-workers or others who have no power to bring matters to closure
  • Inferences made, and not challenged, about people’s behaviour and intentions 
  • Not speaking the truth about one’s observations, facts or feelings 

What behaviours build genuineness? 

  • Critical thinking skill development
  • Confrontation and feedback skill development
  • Sharing information and discussion concerns 
  • Respect for self and others 
  • Anger management 

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and ideas of another person.  It is essential for resolving conflict in ways where everyone wins.  Each employee has certain rights that are linked to empathy.  These include the right of respect, emotional safety, physical safety and opportunity for fulfilment.  Empathy, therefore, has a powerful influence on successful conflict resolution and team harmony. 

What behaviours destroy empathy?

  • Narcissism and self-obsession
  • Rationalising that the end justifies the means
  • Aggressive competition 

What behaviours build empathy? 

  • Care for self and others 
  • Desire to understand others 
  • Collaboration
  • Developing excellent listening skills 

Risk

Risk is a potential exposure to loss or injury resulting in fear of the unknown.  On the downside, the fear of risk results in stagnation because if people are penalised for calculated risk-taking, they become fearful of new ideas.  On the upside, risk is the fuel behind change and quality improvements.  Therefore, organisations that fail to look at errors as learning tools are not as responsive to market competition as organisations that do.  

What behaviours destroy risk-taking?

  • Punishing people who make mistakes
  • Failure to clarify goals and expectations
  • Criticism
  • Fear and isolation
  • Perfectionism and over-analysis

What behaviours build risk-taking? 

  • Performance feedback and coaching
  • Establishing accountability and responsibility at all levels of the organisation
  • Debriefing completed projects and developing improvement plans 

Success

Success means effectively achieving what an organisation has set out to do.  It is a fundamental rationality for why teams are formed.  For this reason, it is essential that team members clearly understand and commit to organisational change and to an organisation’s mission and goals.  If people resolutely feel that a change or a goal will not be successful, they will demand a change in leadership or quit.  

What behaviours destroy success? 

  • Lack of personal commitment and accountability for organisational goals 
  • Withholding information caused by competition between work groups 
  • Poor morale
  • Lack of direction 
  • Short-term problem solving 

What behaviours build success? 

  • Building commitment and ownership of company goals at all levels of organisation 
  • Involving as many worker’s ideas into goal implementation as appropriate
  • Establishing and communicating quality standards, planning, work design and system refinement to all levels of operation 

Core values strike a balance between how work is done and the people doing the work.  When values are recognised and held as important, the resulting conduct creates greater harmony among people, which results in less strife. The payoff is increased creativity and improved morale.  In those organisations where behaviour standards are spelled out and the expectations of how people are to treat one another are commonly known, both group harmony and increased productivity follow. 

Ways that managers/team leaders can create and maintain the desired climate for goal achievement:

  • By being a “role model” or example for the staff by actually behaving in the way that s/he wants them to behave 
  • By rewarding appropriate behaviour 
  • By communicating to staff what behaviour is desired in as many ways as possible 
  • By providing training in order to highlight the activities that support the climate the manager is encouraging.

As facilitator in your team, you need to teach your team members to:

  • Attack the problem, not the person.
  • Focus on what can be done, not on what can’t be done.
  • Encourage different points of view and honest dialogue. 
  • Express your feelings in a way that does not blame. 
  • Accept ownership for your part of the problem. 
  • Listen to understand the other person’s point of view before giving your own.
  • Show respect for the other person’s point of view.
  • Solve the problem while building the relationship.

When conflict arises during a team meeting, it is important to address it as soon as possible. If the conflict has nothing to do with the topic at hand, defer it to a later time. If conflict is extremely overheated, take a break and let everyone cool off. Sometimes when conflict reaches extremes, you may find it impossible to resolve the situation on your own.  In this event, get outside help.