Healthcare and Medicine Reference
complementarities, we can anticipate that large demographic fault lines
between factions will engender group dysfunction” (p. 798).
While the authors caution that much more research is needed to pre-
dict which fault lines, specific to a population of workers, will lead to con-
flict, they did find that the following variables lead to team deterioration
and low performance: “Age differences were positively related to task con-
flict; tenure differences were positively associated with emotional and task
conflict; gender differences were positively related to emotional conflict
and behavioral disintegration; and ethnic differences were positively related
to all three process variables” ( Li and Hambrick, 2005, p. 809 ).
Raver and Gelfand (2005) indicate that one of the primary reasons for
gender conflict is sexual harassment. Noting the harmful impact of sexual
harassment on the functioning of teams, the authors write (p. 395):
Our results demonstrated that at the team level, ambient sexual harassment
was positively related to relationship and task conflict. We also found that
ambient sexual hostility was negatively related to team cohesion and team
financial performance. Team relationship conflict and cohesion mediated the
relationship between ambient sexual hostility and team financial performance,
suggesting that harassment may have far-reaching implications for teams
formance through its influence on everyday team processes. Overall, these
results extend the extant literature by demonstrating that sexual harassment is
significantly associated with indicators of teams ' functioning and performance.
Where does that leave us regarding group diversity? And given the real-
ities that most human service agencies value diversity, aren't we going to
have a certain amount of discord in teams and shouldn't we do something
to keep it at a minimum for the sake of our clients? Self, Holt, and
Schaninger Jr. (2005) suggest that organizational loyalty and concern for cli-
ents can often overcome conflict in groups with diverse compositions.
They believe that when workers are given sufficient input about the pur-
pose of teams and their potential for improving the services they offer,
even highly diverse groups can function well. Rehling (2004, pp.
480 482) says that conversational styles that create conflict can be modified
with help from supervisors to reduce conflict. She indicates in her research
that group conflict may be reduced when group members are asked to:
Recognize the sources of a worker's own conversational style habits.
Help workers monitor themselves to avoid the downsides of the con-
versational style that they habitually use with a project team that may
create conflict within the team.
Apply everyday ethics to conversational behaviors.
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