According to Elon Musk, the four most important traits that are critical for building a great team are: “hardcore work ethic, talent for building things, common sense and trustworthiness (Aten, 2021).” In order to have a united team that is built on Musk’s most important traits, one must first address conflicts within the team itself. Leaving conflict unresolved will not only cause serious problems to workplace morale but will also hinder the ability of the team to inspire a strong work ethic, build on their interdepartmental strengths, and trust one another. Identifying and preventing conflict is one of the key components to building a strong, united team.
There can be several types of conflict in the lab. One of the most common types of conflict that occur in laboratories is interdependence/task-based conflict. Interdependence/task-based conflict occurs when individuals in an interdependent project network must coordinate their tasks so that everyone can successfully get their job done (Atlas Staffing, 2021). One way to address and create a resolution to end this type of conflict is by setting clear expectations in the lab and delegating tasks effectively. By utilizing Thomas-Kilmann’s Conflict Mode of Accommodating, one can maintain harmony in the lab while delegating and defining expectations for members of the team based on their individual needs and the needs of the team as a whole. Examples of ways to resolve this type of conflict are by creating assigned tasks based on daily workflow, creating standardized metrics for the laboratory as a whole, or individual metrics for each employee to reach during a specific time period based on what is needed. Establishing clear guidelines and expectations in the laboratory will help all members of the team cohesively work together and reduce interdependence/task-based conflict.
Another way to identify conflict in the lab is to take a look at the current work culture. Is the current work culture unhealthy? Are discrimination, bullying, and power-tripping going on in the laboratory? One way to stop this type of unhealthy work culture is to identify and address the source of the conflict. It is impossible to solve any workplace conflict (or any kind of conflict) without first identifying where the conflict came from. Is the unhealthy culture stemming from one individual or multiple? One-on-one meetings with individual team members can identify exactly what behavior is occurring and why. One-on-one sessions allow the employee to feel his/her feelings are valid and it also allows the employee to be honest and open to proposed resolutions. It is important during these meetings to actively listen to what your employees are saying and feeling. Showing empathy and understanding can help improve trustworthiness between the supervisor and the employee.
It is also important to work diligently to separate the cliques that are occurring in the laboratory and to create unity and inclusivity. This may mean work stations need to be rotated, projects assigned to team members that don’t usually work together, or creating a mentor-mentee relationship between more and less experienced Techs. Creating a more healthy work culture through the use of Thomas-Kilmann’s Conflict Modes of Accommodation, Collaboration and Compromise will allow your team to thrive and trust one another.
After identifying and addressing conflict in the lab, it is time to celebrate the resolution as a team! As the famous Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” By addressing conflict in the lab and creating a healthier environment and culture, members of your team will be more eager to come to work, trust one another, have clear goals, and function as a united team. A team that operates at its best has identified and addressed their conflicts and moved past them. They can now enjoy collaborating and establishing shared goals, shared values, clear leadership, and continuous evaluation, appraisal, and growth.
“Individual commitment to a group effort that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Written by: Lori Chovanec, BS, HT(ASCP)
Aten, Jason. (2021). “Elon Musk Says There Are 4 Important Things He Looks For When Hiring…”Web. Elon Musk Says These Are the 4 Most Important Things He Looks for When Hiring Top Team Members (msn.com)
Atlas Staffing. (2021). 6 Coming Workplace Conflicts and How to Deal With Them.Web. https://atlasstaffing.com/blog/6-common-workplace-conflicts-and-how-to-deal-with-them/
Team Technology. (2021). “How To Improve Teamwork.” Web. Team Building Foundations (teamtechnology.co.uk)
Tracy, Brian. (2019). “The Foundations of Winning Teams.” Web. The Foundation of Winning Teams | AMA (amanet.org)