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Opinions of Sunday, 16 October 2016

Columnist: Badu, K

The risible predispositions of Mahama and his clamorous NDC apparatchiks

By Badu, K

It is nothing more than a propagandist’s prelection, or to put it mildly, a risible propensity, for President Mahama and his NDC strident apparatchiks to assert inexorably that it is only the NPP Party that owns team conflicts or divisions.

As a student and a chivalrous enthusiast of conflict theory and resolution, I always scoff at NDC propagandists, including President Mahama, for declaiming relentlessly that team conflicts or rifts are only found in the NPP Party.

The fact of the matter is that team conflict is an interpersonal disagreement between members of a team or group. In fact, conflict more often than not impacts negatively on team performance.

Team conflict may arise when the balance between perceptions, goals, or/and values of the team is upset and members aren’t willing to work together towards achieving the shared goals and values.

Even though each team or group member has his/her own interests and values, a team member is obliged to follow values of the team. However, when there is dissonance between the values, an unnecessary cleavage may emerge.

Team conflict could be either functional or dysfunctional. Functional conflicts are disagreements that do not affect team performance significantly and the team often remains functional and more often than not able to achieve the desired results.

Conversely, dysfunctional conflicts are those cleavages that arise between team members that often disrupt teamwork and prevent team members from achieving shared goals.

Thus, I would like to emphasise that conflicts or divisions aren’t reducible to only the NPP Party as often suggest by the NDC propagandists. For, conflict is rather a team or group phenomenon which may be resolved through efficient management.

As a matter of fact, both the NDC and the NPP have their fair share of group conflicts. Apparently, time and space will not permit me to enumerate all the heated conflicts that have previously arose in both camps.

Take, for example, the more recent disagreements between the NDC Party executives at Ho, in the Volta region; (see: ‘Confusion rocks NDC over Volta Regional campaign taskforce launch’-starrfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 02/09/2016).

“Eleven elected executives of the party are protesting the administrative style of the regional chairman and General Secretary”.

“According to the aggrieved executives, “the campaign task force was constituted without the knowledge and approval of the functional executive committee (FEC) of the party in the region”.

“They thus said that they are abstaining themselves “from the said functions with immediate effect,” until the anomalies were resolved”.

“Recently, a meeting was convened and members of the executive Committee were made to believe that the speaker of Parliament ,Captain Kojo Tsikata and others were planning to hijack the work of the regional executives and that we should rise against their intended formation of campaign oversight Committee”.

“We feel that the posture of the regional chairman and secretary is clearly unhealthy for the unity of the party at this critical hour”.

“We refuse to be in the boat and sink with them!”

“We will all resign en-block to pave way for the few to lead the region should our calls and demands be ignored!”

There we go. This is what we call a team conflict. It can happen in any team or group anywhere and anytime. So the NDC propagandists should give us a break with their vague rhetoric and political inebriations.

As a matter of fact, teams are a valence of individuals who are supposed to work collaboratively towards achieving a high level of performance , possess complementary skills, trust in one another, commit to a common purpose, and have goals (both explicit and implicit) for which members are held mutually accountable (Katzenbach and Smith 1993).

It must however be noted that working collaboratively and sharing new knowledge across teams can be a complicated and challenging process (Wenger, 1998; Gilley and Kerno, 2010).

Moreover, while group or team working can be a challenge, there is an established recognition of the importance of frameworks, interpretive models, systems and flexible methodologies in enabling groups, or specific teams, to identify common values and learn to handle challenges and work collaboratively and systematically to achieve a common goal (Checkland & Poulter, 2006).

In a nutshell, groups need to develop into effective teams in order to be able to coordinate individual activities for pragmatic outcomes (Hoegl and Gemuenden, (2001).

Consequently, Hoegl (2005) posits that the quality of teamwork can comprehensively be assessed by considering six thematic factors of the collaborative work process: communication, coordination, and balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion.

The six teamwork quality facets espouse elements of both task-related and social interaction within teams (Cummings, 1978; Hoegl et al., 2003).

Some experts however posit four pillars of an effective integrated team as degree of integration, team membership, team process issues, and team management (Øvretveit 1997).

While Baker, Day, & Salas, (2006) observe that service delivery is a joint effort by team members, whose tasks, interaction and collaboration need to be synchronised.

Similarly, team collaboration has been identified as a shared aims, interdependence, and a collegial and equal relationship between the participants and shared decision-making efforts (D’Amour, Ferrada-Videla, San Martín-Rodriquez, & Beaulieu, 2005).

There is also a school of thought that argues that team working is often marked by conflicts or fragmentation, competing priorities, arbitrary divisions of responsibility, inconsistent policy, unpooled resources and unshared boundaries (Hannigan, 1999).

What’s more, the absence of coordination, unpooled resources and lack of operational integration produce conflicts, wasteful and inefficient services (Hannigan, 1999).

Let’s therefore inform NDC Propagandists: team or group conflict isn’t reducible to one particular team or group, but it can arise in any team or group.