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Interactive Behaviour At Work

Student No.: 21027445

Date: June 7th 2011

Main Body Word Count: 2198

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose Of Report

2 Problem Identification And Definition

2.1 Background And Causes Of Problem

3 Strategic Implications For The Business

4 Alternative Options To Resolve The Problem

4.1 Choice Of Option

4.2 Rationale For Choice

5 Implementation Of Option

6 Timescale

7 Conclusion

8 Recommendations

9 Bibliography

1 Introduction

Santia Occupational Health is a leading supplier of Occupational Health and

Safety Services to public sector and private industry. It employs over 600 staff
and has offices throughout the UK. Santia provides four key occupational health
products; sickness absence/case management, health surveillance, recruitment
health assessments and health promotion. It is geographically broken into 4
areas; North and Scotland, West and Wales, The Midlands and London and the

The company was acquired by new owners in January 2011. A review in early
2011 into the London and South Area noted that there was an overall failure in
the provision of health promotion strategies across the contracts that Santia was
covering. A Health Promotion (HP) project team was put together comprising
different occupational health professionals across each area with a roll out
deadline of six weeks.

Team members were informed by email by the area manager that they were
expected to contribute to the planning, designing and implementation of the
Areas Health Promotion Strategy.

I was appointed the project team’s coordinator for London and the South as I am
the Practice Facilitator for the Occupational Health Advisors. It was my job to
organize and chair meetings and organize the reporting process to management.
At the first meeting there was considerable disruption with several people trying
to put opinions forward often at the same time. One colleague( Paul) in
particular did not want to contribute at all and spent the time complaining about
being there. Guirdham 2002 suggests that using the Social Exchange Theory
(all types of meeting between people are seen as exchanges), each exchange is
considered on what the person expects to gain against what they are expected
to contribute. In the Scenario of the H P Team, members had only been told
what they had to do with no rewards outlined.

1.1 Purpose Of The Report

The purpose of this report is to examine interactive behavior at work issues

raised in planning the provision of health promotion strategies with analysis of
the group formation and of leadership issues and management of conflict within
the HP team.

2 Problem Identification And Definition

The Project Team was put together by the new owner’s Management Team at
short notice and with no reference to previous communication difficulties.
Members were informed by email and the Area Practice Facilitator was made
coordinator. The style used could be seen as Situational Leadership (see
appendix), which according to Northouse 2009 has both a directive and a
supportive dynamic.

This leadership decision impacted on the initial attitudes during the team
formation with some members openly stating they were participating under

Applebum et 1999 suggests that changes in organization structures are a

potential cause for conflict.

From the outset, one member of the team Paul seemed to be using the Health
Promotion Team to raise long-standing grievances with overall management,
with no reference to outcomes for the group or organization.

Paul was continuously very vocal with statements minuted as followed:-

“I have seen it all before”

“Look health promotion is easy, get your leaflets plan your day job done”

Appelbaum et al 1999 proffers that the first step in a conflict incident is the
presence of conditions that allow conflict to recur. They go on to state that
“aggressive behaviour can be related to insecurity in terms a person's situation in
relation to the team”.

The combination of organization changes, leadership approaches and conflict

within the group put the continuation of the HP Project Team in doubt.

2.1 Background And Causes Of Problem

The company has changed hands several times in the last two years. There has
been a lack of direction and support. Occupational Health Advisers were
working alone and developing their own ways of doing things and were resistant
to any changes.

Reference on change

Changes have been announced via email with continued insecurity around jobs.
This sense of insecurity and the leadership style used to communicate the
formation of the team created conflict reference leadership style power distance.
When the team came together no clear leader was obvious at the beginning and
many people contributed with their ideas.

One definition of a team is “a small number of people with complementary skills

who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and a working
approach for which they are mutually accountable” Katzenbach and Smith 1993.
The project team was comprised of 6 members.

Belbin 1993 states that the ideal team make up is between 4 and 6, and that the
effective intelligence of a team is higher than any individual. Belbin 1993 further
suggests that “to build a well-balanced team demands that there is a reasonable
supply of candidates, adequate in number and diversity of talents and team
roles” (see appendix)

David Boddy 2002 states that “putting people into groups does not mean that
they perform well immediately as teams need to go through stages of growth.”

Alternatively, Bolman and Deal 2003 suggest that “team building begins with
structural elements in place set by the needs of the organization and leader”.

Tuckman and Jensen 1977 describe stages of group development (see

Forming: Members usually want be accepted by the others, conflict is avoided
organization of dates is prioritized etc. Impressions are formed, can be a
comfortable stage, not much gets done. Members remain independent .More
direction is needed during this stage .In the case of the Health promotion group
some members already knew each other so in some ways seemed to directly to
the next stage .

Storming This stage is more competitive, more discussion on the functioning of

the group, reporting mechanisms, can lead to more conflict but also ideas
depends on the maturity of the group on how quick it moves on if at all. In the
case of project group. There can be an increase in conflict. Some teams will
never develop past this stage.
Direction needed from the coordinator to enable conflict resolution and full

Norming Goal agreed plan in place team members taking responsibility

Performing Team has achieved a degree of interdependence. Work is being
done and achieving goals. Differing opinions worked with to provide better
Supervisors of the team during this phase are almost always participative.
Stages can revert on each other

Adjourning Task completed break up of the group.

This stages model is backed up by a study by ( Ito.J and Brotheridge 2004) who
found that teams follow a predictable pattern of growth i.e. they grow at one
stage at a time.

3 Strategic Implications for the Business

The strategic implications of stagnation in the health promotion group was

further damage to the corporate image of Santia with loss of contracts due to not
meeting key performance indicators relating to health promotion and . Ineffectual
conflict resolution could lead to a further breakdown in managerial structures
where a loss of confidence in leadership of Santia and further damage to the

4 Alternative Options To Resolve The Problem

Appelbum et 1999 suggest that as conflict is inevitable in groups the aim is not to
reduce conflict but to ensure that it is beneficial. Eisenhardt et al.1997 proposed
six tactics for managing interpersonal conflict:
• Work with more, rather than less, information and debate on the basis of
• Develop a lot of alternatives to enrich the level of debate
• Have shared, commonly agreed goals
• Inject humour into the decision process
• Maintain a balanced power structure
• Resolve issues without forcing consent.

Eisenhardt et al 1997 went on to observe that conflict over issues is natural and
even necessary.

Appelbaum et al 1999 suggest that team members have been unable to

understand conflict as humans relate conflict to destructiveness, antagonism,
uncomfortable relationships, violence and war. This idea about conflict has led
to avoiding or trying to confront a conflict in its early stages, leading to the
situation becoming even worse.

Lippit 1982 suggests that there are five principal interpersonal conflict handling
(1) Withdrawal: retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation.
(2) Smoothing: emphasizing areas of agreement and de-emphasizing areas of
difference over conflict areas.
(3) Compromising: searching for solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction
to the conflicting parties.
(4) Forcing: exerting one’s viewpoint at the potential expense of another (Often
open competition and a win-lose situation).
(5) Confrontation: addressing a disagreement directly and in a problem solving
mode, the affected parties work through their disagreement.
(Lippit, 1982, p.68).

Belbin 1993 describes nine roles which make up the outline of a team. As part of
the team planning process I naturally fitted into the role of resource investigator
that being: “friendly and adaptable, gets information from outside the group.”
Though this was not always congruent with my role as organizer and leader, in
the Forming and storming parts of the teams development which in the case of
the HP team was the first two meetings I could have be direct and removed Paul
who constantly interrupted though Appelbaum et al1999 argue that this is
ineffective and will probably lead to further of conflict in the organisation, or use
an integrative approach as described by Guirdhamm 2002 and set up a sub
meeting with the purpose of addressing the underlying problems and making a
repair. This could be seen as confronting the problem but can also be done in a
compromising manner therefore combining the two approaches as described by
Lippit 1982

4.1 Choice Of Option

I continued to consult with the HP Team Members; each members ideas were
put forward, and tasks were allocated. Each Occupational Health Adviser has
responsibility for their own area and this was continued. This could be seen as
an example of Democratic Leadership as described by Lewin or Participative
Leadership as described by Northouse 2010 who suggests that a Participative
Leader consults team members and seeks their ideas and integrate their
suggestions into how the group would proceed after the initial meetings.

I approached Paul and set up a side meeting to discuss the issues he was
raising. Whilst this was in some ways could be seen as confronting as
described by I used a very compromising approach but also an opportunity to lay
ground rules around acceptable behavior. This meeting again proved difficult but
did serve to “clear the air”.

I also arranged for the area manager to attend the second meeting to consider
whether any rewards would be forthcoming on completion of the project work.
This was to helpfull address….

4.2 Rationale For Choice

Guirdham 2002 suggests that effective teams are self controlling and conflicts
are accepted and worked through, although there was antecedent conflict my
relationship with team members has remained good. In addressing the conflict
we could benefit from the expertise Paul brought to the group. Northouse 2010
suggests Participative Leadership has a positive impact when participants are
autonomous and have a strong need for control; this seemed the right approach
considering the individuals involved were independent Occupational Health

5 Implementation Of Option

Following the first meeting I arranged a one-to-one with Paul. This was followed
up by a further discussion following the second meeting, during the initial and the
subsequent meetings I encouraged participation and very much followed a
Democratic Leadership Role.

6 Timescale

The original timescale was not altered. Two extra one-to-one meetings were
held in the first two weeks. An Outline Promotion Plan was put in place within six
weeks, with each individual taking responsibility for their area.

7 Conclusion

Guirdham 2002 suggests that work relationships have social and psychological
aspects and that they are also affected by communication and roles.

The initial needs of the business and the feeling of vulnerability in employees
was due to constant changes that had combined to create increased conflict at
the initiation of the HP Group. This caused possible strategic problems for the

company at a time when improvements were needed. By adapting a
consultative/participative approach when the team met, it was possible to use the
conflict for the better of the group.

8 Recommendations

Participative approach should be followed from the time of project team set.
Conflict should be encouraged in a controlled and open manner.

9 Bibliography

Boddy (2002) D an Introduction to Management Pearson

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice,

and leadership
(3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Guirdham, M. Interactive Behaviour At Work 3rd ed., Harlow: Prentice Hall 2002.

Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the
High-performance Organization. Boston: Harvard Business School.


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