The current fast-paced global business environment has forced companies to come up with more innovative ways to survive. One area that has received a lot of focus is of course manpower efficiency. The hitherto popular hierarchical structures are gradually giving way to teams as every business seeks to increase productivity.
As a project manager you will concur that indeed this is a creative solution compared to the vertically integrated organization where everyone worked on a task without consultations. The most successful teams such as Google and IBM have grown tremendously by using creative teams to complete huge tasks.
According to a study by Global Knowledge Training a high performance team works together to achieve the set mutual goals. In addition, it also recognizes that each member is accountable which means everyone plays their role in the team. There are also open communication channels and a lot of shared experiences.
Challenges in Dealing with Team Diversity
More companies are proving the close relationship between personal diversity and increased creativity there is no denying the risk at hand if team members don’t work together. There are challenges in managing different personalities. According to a study by Laurie Buchanan while most project managers try to create heterogeneous teams the issue of variability still arises. This is because these teams are created on the basis of technical expertise and experience.
The eventual result is that you have to handle different personalities and the way you do it will either make or break your project. There is the issue of individual identities being challenged by group membership while clashing personalities can lead to a toxic working environment.
But first things first; why would your team members clash in such a way as to necessitate your intervention? According to a study by a group of psychologists some of these underlying problems include:
- Poor communication
- Ineffective leadership
- Inherent personality traits
- Organizational culture
- Role allocation differences
- Lack of proper problem solving skills
- High turnover
- Lack of resources
In essence you are dealing with a conflict as the manager. With conflict resolution being one of the major attributes of good leaders you must rise up to resolve the hostility before it ruins your project. The conflict can be task, procedure or interpersonal based. Whatever the case such a crisis precipitates an avalanche of problems that can lead to failure if not properly resolved.
Dealing with Team Personalities
The synergy provided by a team is invaluable and labor management hostility should not be allowed to hinder this. Not only do you have higher productivity but the process of managing your projects becomes easier when your team is working together. There are also more ideas during brainstorming sessions which pushes the project forward.
So, how do you go about resolving labor management hostility before it gets too far? Here are some innovative ideas:
1. Identify and Define the Problem
If the team is not working cohesively or there are pertinent complaints about the management then you have to get down to work. Identifying and defining the root cause of discord is the first step in resolving problems in the workplace.
2. Learn the Different Team Member’s Personalities
Before setting out to resolve a conflict in the workplace make sure you understand the personalities you expect to face. You will be facing all types of personalities from narcissist, perfectionists, aggressive characters, passive, deceptive, facilitators, silent members, born leaders and followers among many others.
You will also be dealing with different generations in your team including Gen X, Gen Y and baby boomers. Once you have an idea of the type of people you are dealing with it becomes easier to resolve problems when they arise.
3. Celebrate Diversity
It might sound ironical that you want to celebrate what is hurting your project but this is the way to go. With so many personality traits in your team you need to let everyone understand that they are respected in the scheme of things. Every team member must appreciate the need for mutual respect in the project. They need to understand that everyone is invaluable in the completion of the project.
4. Create Open Channels of Communication
Ask yourself this; how do you deal with that silent member who just does what they are required and leaves the office? If there is no open communication within the team you might be the reason such a member is not opening up. The team needs to know that you have an empathetic personality. This means they can share any reservations they have on the project or other members.
5. Intervene Promptly
The greatest pitfall for any project manager is procrastination when there is an apparent problem. An effective manager must intervene promptly when there are labor tensions. You need to get down to the bottom of the dissatisfaction fast.
If team members are not satisfied with the company’s labor policies or they feel dissatisfied with your leadership it is time to start dealing with the problem. Inordinate delays eventually lead to low productivity which ruins your project.
6. Work with Management
Some complaints will go beyond your scope as a manager and there is nothing wrong with consulting with the management. Issues such as salary or work terms require more discussions because they can affect your project. At the end of the day you are responsible for meeting the deadline and this could be in jeopardy if you don’t resolve conflicts quickly.
7. Encourage Openness
As a manager it is easy to start reading danger signs early. For instance if more deadlines are being missed by the team this could be as a result of discord within the group. You need to call a meeting and ask everyone to be open. Such a meeting can create a good forum for you to reemphasize the need for continuing open communication within the team.
8. Solve the Problem Creatively
Issues to do with personality clash in a team are sensitive. You need to consider the matter carefully once you have gathered all the relevant information from the team. It is also important to involve the team in coming up with a more participatory approach to solving problems.
9. Rebuild Broken Bridges
As a project manager you appreciate the need for cohesion in your team. Once the hostility has been dealt with you need to start rebuilding the bridges that might have been broken in the process. You need to reconcile the team and ensure it moves forward as a unit.
It is tough to maintain a cohesive team but then you understand that this is the only way to make progress for your project. This is the major reason you must work diligently towards resolving differences.. Remember each member’s personality is different and such diversity needs to be appreciated. The bottom-line however is that any hostility has to be dealt with promptly.
Image: Pedro Ribeiro Simões