Interpersonal Relations: Solving Problems in the Workplace
Uncertainties in the workplace can cause stagnation in production and make the achievement of organizational goals and objectives harder. Group work is thus essential in finding solutions to these problems, because each individual brings in their knowledge and experience to the table. Goncalo & Staw (2006) assert that working in a group fosters cooperation and productivity.
Today, most organisations, especially multinationals, employ workers with different cultural backgrounds, which may affect a problem’s approach. If an individual’s culture dictates that they look after themselves, the individual will engage in what makes them distinct. Conversely, people in collectivistic culture integrate themselves into groups from birth and so engage in activities while focusing on what they have in common with others in exchange for loyalty. Individualism is practiced in the western cultures, while the Asian cultures emphasize on collectivism (Matsumoto, 2001). In collectivism, workers are in-group members, pursue the interests of that in-group, and get promotion depending on their input in the group, while in individualistic culture, the workers pursue their employer’s interest and individual skills determine their promotion.
The relationships in individualism are contract based and individual accountability in tasks is highly regarded while in collectivism, relationships are of moral nature and they prevail over tasks (Briley, Morris, & Simonson, 2005). Workers from collectivistic cultures value group cooperation and solidarity, for example Arabs prefer to work with people they trust and have known before, while individualism advocates for independence and autonomy. Collectivism, hence leads to improved communication and higher commitment of workers in an organization.
However, in-group work may make some employees conform to the ideas laid by the group thus stifling their own ideas. Experienced members may want to appear knowledgeable by trashing the ideas of the younger members of the group. Even though cooperation is good for a group, some members may perceive competition as a threat and so ignore fellow members’ contribution. This becomes detrimental to the group relationships and results.