Solving Conflict in the Workplace with Team Building Activities

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Lance Best is the CEO of Barker Sports Apparel and after speaking with his company’s general counsel, Nina Kelk, he has decided that he has a problem. His CFO, Damon Ewen, and his Head of Sales, Ahmed Lund, have been at odds for quite a while. However, the tip of the iceberg was the 360 - degree reviews. While these reviews were supposed to be anonymous, it quite was obvious to everyone who made the negative comments about Damon Ewen, it was Ahmed Lund. In retaliation, on Ahmed’s 360-degree reviews, Damon also posted some comments complaining about Ahmed’s work style. Lance does not know what to do with both his CFO and his Head of Sales. Both are very good at their jobs and while the conflict hadn’t had a big impact on the company so far, it might in the future.

A new problem has opened up where Ahmed has promised new samples for the Clarkson account, but the order exceeds the limit on the accounting set and Damon will not sign off on the order. After speaking with Nina Kelk, Jhumpa Bhandari, Damon Ewen and his father, Eric, Lance has decided that he needs to do something about the ongoing conflict with Damon and Ahmed. While conflict in the workplace can be normal and some can say healthy, in this case, Lance and others around has had enough. In an effort to combat the toxic work environment that is being caused by both Damon Ewen’s and Ahmed Lund’s big personalities, I recommend that Lance Best, the CEO of Barker Sports Apparel, have both teams do team building workshops, activities or exercises. Having both Damon’s and Ahmed’s team do team building activities would be beneficial to the two teams and the company. The common / main goal of Damon and Ahmed is to make the revenues of Barker Sports increase. However, with both of their departments always at odds, it is really hard to get both team leaders to agree.

Without teams working together, employees restricted to working alone, however, with team building employees can collectively come together to work as a team. With working as a team, employees can learn to respect and support each other’s ideas, and build trusting relationships with each other. (Fapohunda, 2013). One can infer that if both Damon’s and Ahmed’s team start doing team building exercises, both teams will start to respect and trust each other enough to build relationships. With doing this, when both teams are working on a project together, they can support one another and learn how to communicate better with one another. Communication is key. It goes hand in hand with every relationship. One can comment that the biggest problem between Damon and Ahmed’s team is their lack of communication. Because Damon and Ahmed both have very different personalities, they are constantly in conflict because they do not know how to communicate with each other.

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To try and solve the issue that Damon’s and Ahmed’s team have with communication, I recommend that Lance has both teams play a game. Brian Cole Miller’s book, Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes offers many different types of games that tackles different type of issues such as communication, listening, influencing, connecting as in getting to know each other more, cooperation as in working together as a team, and many more. One activity that would really help Lance in getting Damon and Ahmed to cooperate more is the game called “But Nothing (Ideas)”. The purpose of this game is that participants of the game will learn how communication and creativity can be stifled when using the phrase “yes, but..”. Participants will be encouraged to use “yes, and..” instead of “yes, but..” (Miller 2003). With this game, employees can learn the other side feels when their ideas are not entirely accepted.

Employees can step in the other person’s shoes for a little bit and see how the other person is feeling. Including emotions into this game is very important because then participants will then learn how to carefully communicate with someone without shutting them out completely. This exercise will also teach participants how to trust their colleagues. With having both Damon’s and Ahmed’s team do team building exercises, this pegs the question if team building is effective in the workplace. Team building does work. The results from the study suggest that teambuilding does work because it improves the team’s outcomes. (Klein et al., 2009). Role clarification have the largest effect on team building. Role clarification improves communication between team members because it relieves stress that is caused by role ambiguity, which is demands that are placed upon someone who does not expect those said demands. Having role clarifications would increase communications and thus would increase the effectiveness of the team. (Klein et al., 2009). The game, Nothing But (ideas)’s main goal is to increase communicating between team members. With this, the game will make the workplace fun for a day while trying to fix the issue at hand.

Lance Best is the CEO of Barker Sports Apparel and after speaking with his company’s general counsel, Nina Kelk, he has decided that he has a problem. The problem that Best has is that his CFO, Damon Ewen, and his Head of Sales, Ahmed Lund, who have big personalities, are at at odds. What made Lance finally decide to do something about the dispute are the negative 360 – degree reviews that both Damon and Ahmed put on each other’s profile. My recommendation to solve this conflict of big personalities is to have both teams do team building activities. It will teach them how to communicate and trust each other more. With having team building activities, this will show everyone that the CEO cares enough about his employees to try and solve the conflict rather than firing everyone.

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