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Personal pride

From statements 21 and 22 we find that conflict is often ignored, the culture of conflict is not a very constructive one at TSI, as individuals need to have good training and understanding of practices before they can actually put forward their arguments and disagree with others. Many avoid conflict for two main reasons, firstly the fear of a bad impression in front of senior colleagues which have in the past effected promotion and secondly a large gap in training between Arab and European staff leads to a more hierarchical mode of operation.

‘Management interventions are uncommon and many teams remain stuck or simply die’ was the comment from one lecturer (statement 23). When management do get involved, it is more than likely that they go for a ‘quick-fix’ solution without really analysing the problem. Intervention by management in this way often burdens the group, as one teacher mentioned ‘it becomes clear to everyone that we have failed in our task as senior management only get involved when we fail. ‘ The effect of the intervention often results in removal or replacement of individuals and sometimes a lost opportunity for learning through overcoming obstacles results.

The team misses out on strengthening itself,

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building confidence and effective development of working practices and skills as described in the literature review by O’Neill (1997), Stephenson (1985), Dahlin and Rolff (1993). Statement 24 indicated time was given for groups to meet, but this time was used in a very hierarchical manner. The teams rarely operated effectively and always rushed to leave meetings having little personal pride in its outcomes. Conflict was rare as ultimately the leader held all the power.

Paechter (1995) suggests that, without significant time set aside at the outset for the clarification and acknowledgement of participants’ different purposes and viewpoints, a workable, worthwhile consensus may never be achieved. A worse situation exists in TSI, when people’s viewpoints are ignored, a lack of commitment from team members result in failure when proposals need to be implemented and/or promoted to other members of staff outside of the team. It would seem more attention needs to be given on how teams operate in TSI rather than just giving them time to meet.

Conclusion Teams bring complimentary skills and experiences together in one place hopefully to solve tasks in a better way than an individual could. Teams are committed to a common purpose and a specific set of performance goals. Its members are committed to achieve the teams’ purposes and hold each other fully and jointly accountable. Teams establish good communications from the outset, and are able to deal without being threatened, changing events and demands, better than an individual would in the whole organisation.

Team members have a special bond with each other, in overcoming difficulties, conflicts and barriers to success, interpersonal skills and friendship is strengthened. Coleman and Bush (1994, p. 266) suggest that educators like teams: ‘because they encourage the participation of teachers in decision-making, leading to a sense of ownership and an enhanced prospect of successful innovation. One of the main features of collegiality is its emphasis on teamwork’. TSI has a long way to go in developing its team culture to operate effectively, the problems of ‘friends helping friends’ at the moment often alienate many and hide weaknesses of others.

The fear of individuals not being credited, praised or rewarded for their work often drives them to keep their views to themselves and refuse in sharing their good ideas (if lecturers feel safe they will share). Short sighted team leaders and senior managers promote their own power and influence rather than share information to benefit the team as a whole. Socialising and rapport building between colleagues is rare, and opportunities to avoid mistrust and intolerance are lost.

Conflict in teams is not allowed and unable to develop to a positive conclusion, losing the chance in helping understanding and strengthening the team. Adair (1988) hits the nail on the head when he describes the time consuming conflict that exists in TSI with the need to balance a wish to get things done with the development of individuals and that of the team as a whole. This often results in teachers in TSI that seem to revel in autonomy of their own classroom and rarely share within the team environment (O’Neill (1997)).

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