This week’s post is the second in a series of posts to describe the five primary behaviors that New Product Development team members may employ to deal with conflict. These posts are loosely based on webinars presented by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) which can be viewed here.
Competing is high on the assertiveness scale, where the issue is very important to the person, but low on the cooperative scale, where relationship is not viewed as important. The definition of a Competing Behavior is when a person asserts his or her opinion without considering opposing viewpoints.
This means you are standing up for your rights, beliefs, and values while trying to get to the bottom of the issue. People who primarily use the Competing Behavior are likely to use skills like debate or arguing, will strongly assert their opinions, and will generally state their opinion very clearly. Strength of purpose is a characteristic of a person who primarily sues Competing Behavior as a method to manage conflict.
On the other side of the same coin, however, a person using Competing Behavior as a Conflict Management mode may “pull rank” or influence in order to force their opinion in the issue. Often this is a preferred method of Conflict Management in life threatening situations, so is commonly employed in the military, police, and fire fighting professions. The Competing Behavior is appropriate to use in situations calling for quick action.
Other situations in which Competing Behavior may be preferred to manage conflict include when an unpopular decision is made in the business or on the team. Perhaps, the NPD team is given an option of which factory to manufacture the prototype new product and most of the team members have come from one geographical region. It is an unpopular decision to choose to manufacture the prototype at a location far from where the team is housed but will be more cost-effective for the company. In such a situation, the leader can rely on Competing Behavior skills to ensure the decision is carried out even though it is unpopular with the team.
Overuse of the Competing Behavior can lead to lack of feedback. The team may simply “clam up” instead of sharing their opinions since they may feel their input is of little value. Such overuse of this style of Conflict Management Mode can lead to reduced learning and lack of empowerment in the organization. The Team Leader may find himself or herself surrounded by “Yes Men/Women” leading to poor decisions.
When individuals are not using the Competing Behavior mode in the appropriate situations, they may find they have restricted influence, or indecision. They may find that their contribution, though valuable, has been withheld and they may be too slow to act and influence the outcome.
As we discussed last week, each of the Conflict Management modes has a time and place. Consider if you are using Competing Behaviors in the appropriate situations, those that require quick action and may be unpopular decisions.
Learn about the other types of conflict management behaviors in NPD>
originally posted 22 July 2010
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