Effective group process

Effective group process is the key consideration for establishing successful startup teams and navigating conflict resolution challenges.

For example, not too long ago in a bustling tech hub, a group of ambitious entrepreneurs came together to form a promising startup. Each member of the team brought a unique set of skills and experiences, and they shared a common dream of revolutionizing the industry with their innovative product.

At the outset, the camaraderie was strong, and their creative synergy seemed unstoppable.

As time went on, however, the initial harmony waned. Pressure mounted, and differences in work styles and opinions emerged. Disagreements over the direction of the product and strategic decisions became more frequent, and the team’s communication began to fray. The Founder, who initially inspired the group, started to lose the support of some team members who questioned the direction in which the company was headed. Tensions grew and the once cohesive startup began to devolve into conflict.

Conflict seeped into every aspect of the company. Productivity plummeted as team members bickered over priorities and resources. Morale sank, and some initial team members started leaving, disheartened by the growing discord. The team’s inability to address their differences constructively threatened the very existence of the startup they had worked so hard to build.

In the face of mounting challenges, the team had a crucial decision to make. They could allow the conflict to destroy their dream or choose to confront it head-on. So they hired a consultant to help them. The fate of the startup hung in the balance, and the path they chose would determine whether they could navigate the stormy waters of internal conflict and emerge stronger and more united than before.

Perhaps you know other startup founders that have experienced similar issues. For this team, lost time and money to resolve their issues set back their delivery dates and threatened the third stage of venture capital funding.

How to head off conflict on startup teams from the get-go with effective group process and behavior norms

Conflict on startup teams often occurs because of procedure misunderstandings and lack of agreed to group behavior and process norms. An important consideration for strategic planning, group behavior and process norms mitigate goals, roles and relationship conflict. When left to chance, procedure conflict can quickly escalate to goal conflict and later relationship conflict and the breakup of the team.

TIGERS 6 Principles effective group process research and subsequent validation assessed that they are six components of behavior and group process that improve and correct predictable team problems that lead to conflict and misunderstandings. They are trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success.

When constructive behavior and process is identified and contributed to by every team member, the confusion and misunderstandings that do occur when new teams are formed is reduced leading to improved productivity and delivery. So does the time it takes to achieve high-performance outcomes.

These same choices also lead to improved hiring and growth when that time comes.

Group process and behavior norms are the agreed to rules that guide how team members interact and work together. Positive norms that encourage effective communication, respect, trust, and shared goals can foster a collaborative environment where individuals feel motivated to work together toward a common purpose. On the contrary, negative norms or the absence of clear norms can lead to dysfunction, conflicts, and a breakdown in collaboration. Therefore, it’s crucial for teams and organizations to establish and reinforce positive norms to promote effective collaboration.

How do effective group process and behavior norms benefit a startups team’ ability to collaborate?

Forming collaboratives or partnerships like startups offers a myriad of benefits to individuals, organizations, and communities. Collaboration fosters the pooling of resources, expertise, and ideas, leading to increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities. It also allows for the sharing of risks and responsibilities, thereby reducing the burden on individual entities.

For example, startups often result in economies of scale, with emphasis on cost savings, productivity improvements and expanded market reach. Moreover, collaboration promotes diversity of thought and a broader perspective, enhancing decision-making and adaptability. It can also strengthen relationships and networks, fostering trust and cooperation among participants. Ultimately, collaboratives and partnerships have the power to drive progress, create synergies, and achieve collective goals that may be unattainable when working in isolation.

Here are a few ideas for applying this.


Norms regarding communication styles and channels can greatly impact collaboration. Clear and open communication norms facilitate the sharing of ideas, feedback, and information. In contrast, poor communication norms can lead to misunderstandings and barriers to collaboration.


Group processes often dictate how decisions are made. Collaborative norms that encourage shared decision-making and consensus-building can lead to more inclusive and effective outcomes. Conversely, hierarchical or autocratic decision-making norms can hinder collaboration.

Conflict Resolution

Norms regarding conflict management affect how disputes and disagreements are addressed within the group. Healthy conflict resolution norms encourage constructive discussions and compromise, fostering collaboration. Destructive norms can lead to avoidance, animosity, and hindered collaboration.


Group norms related to individual and collective accountability have a direct impact on collaboration. When there’s a clear sense of responsibility and commitment to tasks, collaboration tends to be more effective. On the other hand, lax accountability norms can lead to finger-pointing and decreased collaboration.

Inclusivity and Participation

Group behavior norms determine who is encouraged to participate and how diverse perspectives are valued. Inclusivity norms that respect and incorporate different viewpoints enhance collaboration by leveraging the team’s diversity. Exclusive norms can lead to groupthink and missed opportunities for collaboration.

Work Ethic

Norms surrounding work ethic and effort can influence collaboration. High-performance norms that expect quality work and dedication can drive collaboration by setting high standards. Lower work ethic norms may discourage collaboration when team members don’t pull their weight.

Respect and Trust

Norms related to respect and trust are fundamental for collaboration. Collaborative teams often have norms that emphasize trust-building, respect for each other’s contributions, and valuing diversity. Distrust or disrespectful behavior norms can erode collaboration and lead to a toxic work environment.

Feedback and Learning

Norms regarding feedback and continuous improvement impact how teams learn and adapt. Collaborative norms encourage constructive feedback and a culture of learning from mistakes. Defensive or non-learning norms can stifle collaboration by discouraging openness and growth.

Goal Alignment

Norms aligning group goals with individual goals are essential for effective collaboration. When team members have shared objectives and performance norms, they are more likely to collaborate toward common outcomes. Misaligned goals and norms can result in conflicting interests and hindered collaboration.

Group processes and behavior norms play a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of collaboration within a team or organization. These elements significantly influence how individuals work together, communicate, and contribute to shared goals.

Maintaining a harmonious and productive work environment within startups is crucial to their success and longevity. Preventing and mitigating conflicts in the early stages can save valuable time, resources, and talent. To keep startups out of escalating conflict, proactive steps should be taken.

For example, clear and well-communicated expectations and roles are essential. Startups should establish and consistently reinforce team roles, responsibilities, and expectations. This clarity can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes that often arise from unclear job boundaries. Additionally, creating an atmosphere that encourages open and honest communication is key. Team members should feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas, fostering transparency and trust.

Maintaining a conflict-free or conflict-resilient startup environment is achievable through agreed to group process and behavior norms, clear expectations and robust conflict resolution mechanisms. By proactively addressing potential sources of conflict from the get-go and fostering a harmonious work atmosphere, startups can thrive and effectively navigate challenges on their path to success.

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Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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