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Group dynamics in the workplace

Updated on May 16, 2012
The Student Leadership Institute "Red Group" Giving a bunch of over achievers 1 week to complete a major project= no sleep, and a lot of cranky college students. My training ground for group dynamic issues.
The Student Leadership Institute "Red Group" Giving a bunch of over achievers 1 week to complete a major project= no sleep, and a lot of cranky college students. My training ground for group dynamic issues.

Working Together as a Team

In this day and age, people are lucky to have jobs. However this means that you may stick with a unsatisfactory job for longer than you should. There are all different kinds of jobs but for those of us forced to work with others to accomplish a goal this can be challenging.

In my job we have people in my department I have to work with, we divide work loads to get things done but on major cases have to work together to solve problems and emergency situations. But we also have people in other departments we have to coordinate with but they have a different perspective on things which can sometimes be in direct conflict with what we're trying to do.

Now with the people in the other departments I don't have a lot of conflict. If I don't have to work with a person all the time my job allows me the freedom to avoid them for the most part. And don't get me wrong I get along with about 95% of the people at work, but there is always one or two who for some reason just don't get along with me for reasons I don't understand. The difference between me and them is I attempt to get along with them.

Conflict resolution is basically why we're called in emergency situations in the first place and things that I've learned I sometimes have to use when dealing with people I work with. Things you need to take into consideration when dealing with people is their background. Are they college graduates or Military, are they single parents or taking care of sick relatives? Do they have experience in the field or are they new to the job? You need to be careful in how you come off to them and finally make sure you know when to stand up for yourself.

Background

The great thing about the group of people I work with is that we all have different backgrounds and this works for us because we each have strengths that helps us do our job depending on the situation. One of us have 30 years experience, another is a Jack of All Trades, One is a Marine, two part timers who's day job is a firefighter, our newest employee is a single mom who is new to the business and me the college graduate with no experience but lots of theories.

But we each have weaknesses. The guy with the years of experience is burnt out and hides a lot from doing any real work. The Jack of all Trades brags a lot about things he's done in his past which has gotten to the point where we think he may be lying, he is also the golden boy who is in good with the bosses but I've heard rumors that he's quick to stab you in the back. The Marine still thinks he's a Sergeant, the part timers don't put a lot of effort into the job because they don't need it as much, they have a much better day job to fall back on. The new girl is nice and good with people but needs to learn to pull her share of the load and do things she doesn't like to do because it's her job. And me my weakness is I talk too much, try to do too much, and they've told me they think I may be a know it all.

Be Honest about yourself

Now I can't comment on the others but from my perspective everything I do, I do for good reason. I talk to much, I talk to people because I'm southern we're famous for being polite it's not something I can change, but I also talk to people even if it's just a hey how you doing because in my first job I ever had my boss told me to always be nice because you never know what's going on in that other person's mind just because you smiled at them, may save them from committing suicide because they feel like no one would miss them if they're gone. Makes sense to me. We're also a business being nice to people especially customers should be a top priority. I'm also very nice to employee's because we're who you call when you have a problem. I want them to know me, like me, and trust me to be able to solve the problem. I also learned this theory in college about being nice to people and how much more effective it is when you're the authority figure being more diplomatic instead of autocratic gets better results. People start telling you stuff and giving you more details and warning you about potential problems if they feel they can trust you and that you can help them. I've seen the results of this when my co-workers and I are standing in a group and someone needs one of us, they always call my name. They can barely remember most of the other's names.

Lately I've been accused of getting too distracted trying to do it all to be effective at my job. Which could be the case, but we're very short staffed a lot of the time and I'm the youngest in the department and am quick to finish my work so I do a lot of work to keep busy. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and in my prioritizing things on my list of things to do some things fall through the cracks and don't get done, or doesn't get done well, or done right. One of the employee's I mentioned above I feel may have been brought in to help me because he is good at his job and has really taken a load of responsibility off my shoulders by also being quick and is very effective in his job. The two of us are the youngest in the department but he's still a year or two older than me but we're 20 years younger than the others. Which sounds great, we should get along, but we don't.

He has accused me of being a know it all, and nosy. Asking questions of people that has nothing to do with me. He tells me he only wants to talk to me about work related issues. Which is fine with me of course but he needs to stop making fun of me for conversing with others. That's not his business. I ask a lot of questions. It's required for our job sometimes, and I'm a naturally inquisitive person. So I know a lot of information about a lot of things. Anything that happens at work I like to know about it. Because it may forewarn us of potential problems we may need to be called in on. So it's not my fault that I may seem like a know it all when I've talked to people, and been involved in many calls, and asked questions to clarify situations and can give intelligent answers when because of this proactive attitude I have gives me all the details on these emergency situations that crop up and catches the not so prepared by surprise.

Other's perception of you

Now I've mentioned some of the negative perceptions people have of me. These are the issues I'm aware of. How to tell if a purposed issue with you is real or not is to see how many people complain about it. If one or two people say they have a problem with something about you then it's probably not a problem, but if lots of people in a lot of different contexts comment on the same problem, like my talkativeness then it's a problem. My talkativeness is annoying to some people, but I figured that as long as I'm also a good listener then it isn't a true problem. Talking helps me organize my thoughts I guess I'm an auditory learner so it's just one of the things you'd have to get used to when dealing with me.

Half the time at work I feel like I'm a chicken running with it's head cut off. It gets stressful at times that we're expected to work miracles but I'm only one person and I can't be in two places at once. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not having a manic episode as I try to complete every task that is thrown my way. But this annoys people. I've been told I'm too gun hoe, that I need to relax a little and not worry about potential problems until they are problems and someone has called me to deal with it. This is hard for me to accept as I was raised by a workaholic mom who told me to always give 110% all the time when at work because your job is the most important thing in life, because without that income you can't pay bills etc.

People mistake my inquisitive nature for being nosy. I've always thought of them as two different things. Being inquisitive helps me do my job, I'm asking questions I need to know for my job, and because of what my job is, you may or may not think a particular question is related to my job, but there is a method to the madness and a reason I ask a question. Being nosy I've felt is asking about your personal life that has nothing to do with my job and I think that for every nosy inquiry into my personal life I should get a question to ask you about yours.

Now all of this is important because until you can shed light on how others perceive you you can't fix a problem or decide that your "problem" is theirs and not yours. So I highly recommend taking a few psychology classes and the intro into Nonverbal communication class I took in college has also been very useful. It can give you some insight into what a person may be saying with their bodies vs, what they're saying with their mouths. Sometimes there is a big difference.

Stand up for yourself

Now because I like having a paycheck and love my job I put up with a lot of discord from my co-workers. Rude comments, direct insults and even a few threats. One time I lost my temper and told someone they needed to treat me better, it worked out pretty well she moved to another departmental location and I hardly ever have to see her anymore, even though we don't get along I think after that she understands better where I'm coming from and has made more of an attempt to get along with me where she didn't before.

Another of my co-workers is getting my temper close to that breaking point again. The strange part is that with her is was 3 months of stress and frustration and rude remarks and insults I put up with before I'd had enough and stood up for myself. It's been about 3 weeks now and within the first five minutes of meeting this co-worker he was snapping at me. This guy has been with the company about 6months longer than I, but at different locations for the most part, a few times at my location, but it was the first time I had to work with him and didn't know if he'd worked there before or not and asked him if he'd worked there before, but then I got distracted by someone asking me a question and asked again and maybe a third time and he thought I was being pushy and nosy, but this is one of those things I classify as work related because I want to know what kind of person I'm dealing with, how much experience and how well trained they may be. By the end of the day after I had explained something we did differently at our location compared to something he did which I assumed is normal for other locations, he was irritated that I was treating him like a new employee. I apologized of course but it still feels weird that I would irritate someone that quickly for something so small.

Within a week this co-worker isn't making eye contact with me in the hallway, and is telling me just how frustrating I am to him. Ironically I feel like giggling when he's mad at me. I use humor to diffuse a lot of situations like this which sometimes works with him sometimes it doesn't. But I've decided to kill him with kindness at least show him that I'm trying to get along with him, something I feel is working as we had a conversation yesterday for over 10 minutes without one of us getting mad at the other. But I feel like in this situation things have to go slowly and I'm basically treating him like a wounded dog that you found on the side of the road that doesn't want you to get close to him and it's slow going.

Finding Resolutions

Trust. I've got to build trust with this co-worker by showing him that I am an asset to the team. For the past couple weeks I've been letting him take the lead on the emergency calls to see how he handles them and not surprisingly his style is a lot different than mine, it's effective and gets the job done but with my style I usually get apologies from the people we've been called into assist who've been causing problems.

He's got to start to like me. There is gonna come a point and this has happened with people who are now best friends of mine where things that are initially annoying personality aspects become funny or cute or they finally understand the why behind it. I am good about laughing at myself a trait that seems to be surprising him as the last batch of insults I laughed off and didn't take seriously. It's hard not to like someone who can laugh at themselves. It shows they don't take themselves too seriously. And although I am gun hoe about my job I'm not narcissistic, thinking I'm the best. I'm not the best I just do what I think is best at the time, given the information I have at the time.

Eventually I'll grow on him and he'll realize I make a good friend and am competent at my job and that he doesn't have to worry about tripping over my ego. I don't have one. Until then he runs the risk of setting off my temper, I do have one of them, because it's hard not to force him to get over himself and to tell him to stop being rude and insulting and at least try to work with me, instead of following the steps of letting him get use to me. There will come a time when this becomes necessary, if this is a lost cause, but it comes with a lot of risk. Getting fired, or if things get physical put in jail or worse if you're on the losing side of a physical fight. But an outright fight with someone you don't get along with may not even solve the problem. Which is why I prefer the slower method. As to why I'm putting myself through this is this co-worker is a good person, he's just not a nice person at least not nice to me. The goal is to get to point in a relationship with this co-worker so we can work together in the most effective way, which for me the one who's more in tune to the people involved means happily working together. For him it means waiting for me to show him how good at my job I can be because he's more concerned with the technical aspects of how a job is done.

So I recommend being honest about who you are, what your strengths and weakness are. You need to know what your goal is and what your enemy is capable of, what their strengths and weaknesses are and I find it useful to find something positive about a person who doesn't like you and focus on it and stay observant of progress and set backs on the path to a cohesive group dynamic.



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