For Team MembersConflict is one of the drivers for improved team performance. Managed well, conflict can lead to better decisions, more creative ideas and higher quality output from the team. Managed badly, it can stop teamwork and hinder individuals from achieving their personal goals.
The most widely-used methods of resolving conflict are based on 'game theory'.
Game TheoryGame Theory is a complex and extensive science, but there are some simple elements that can be used in everyday dealings with people at work, including the following principles.
Everyone is trying to achieve some kind of "payoff" or benefit, but the payoff may be different for different people and organisations. Examples of 'payoffs' might be:
- gaining a sense of achievement from completing a worthwhile and/or high quality job
- obtaining financial reward
- making a profit for the company
- getting the job done as quickly as possible in order to go somewhere better
- having a feeling of self-esteem or self-worth
- being recognised for one's efforts
|I don't win||I win|
|You don't win||Withdrawal|
Types of GamesThere are different types of games:
- a competitive game means that for you to get your payoff, someone else has to lose theirs. For example, in a competitive game of tennis at Wimbledon, for one player to win and proceed to the next round, the other player has to lose and be put out of the tournament.
- a cooperative game means that for you to maximise your payoff it is best for other players to get their payoff as well. For example, when you drive a car, you are most likely to get your "payoff" (getting to your destination safely and on time) if all other players of the game (other drivers on the same road) get their "payoff" and arrive at their destination safely and on time. If other drivers crash they may delay or prevent you from getting where you want to go.
To play a cooperative game, you need to find ways of working where you get your payoff and your partner person/organisation gets their payoff. This is called a win-win position.
Where co-operative games (collaborations) fail this is often due to one of the following:
- each party makes assumptions about, and fails to understand, the other parties' win positions.
- where the win positions are understood, the parties criticise each others' win positions. Eg: they try to convince each other that their expectations are unrealistic
- where the win positions are accepted, each party focuses on the difficulties of apparent differences, rather than innovating and trying to come up with innovative solutions.