Team conflict impacts safety and productivity

 In News

Team conflict impacts safety and productivity

Site workers with attitudeThe news in the Daily Telegraph on 12 March 2013 was about Shane Watson being sacked from the Aussie Cricket team for not being a team player. Shock and horror!This is a classic example of where organisational psychology could have avoided an ugly and embarrassing situation impacting on our nation’s sporting credibility. All too often, we forget that it is psychological behavioural issues that cause team conflict and cultural breakdown in teams. Not just team sports but operational teams in mining & resources, construction, and transportation.

The major difference of course between sporting teams and operational teams is that more often than not, people’s safety and lives depend on the actions of others in operational teams. This is typically not the case in most team sports. Hence, in operational teams, people need to place their ultimate trust in other team members to stay safe. The actions and errors of operations team members can and do kill other team members.

In heavy industry, team communication issues, cultural breakdowns and behavioural issues can cause mistrust, disrespect, and in some cases, wilful negligence directed at other team members. This impacts heavily on productivity and more importantly, safety of individual team members. This reminds us of the story of a construction worker who had a fiery argument with a co-worker. He then purposely removed bolts from scaffolding and when his co-worker used the scaffolding … well, we’re sure many know the rest of the story.

Psychology profiling of individual team members, diagnoses personality and behavioural attributes  such as team player ability, attitudes towards safety, respect for authority, risk taking, integrity, motivation, commitment, and reliability. Strengths and weakness for each team player can be identified so that an individual team member behavioural training program can be implemented, providing strategies for individuals to deal with their weaknesses.

In many cases, the training helps individuals to modify their natural behaviours in order to communicate better with others and get on with other individuals with different personality and behavioural styles. This helps people to overcome bias and surprisingly, develop mutual respect with adversaries leading to trusted long term friendships.

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