Conflicts in Project Management

One of the critical challenges project manger need to deal with during execution is the teams conflict, No matter how good the project schedule, how perfect is the budget, projects can still be undone through poor interaction between individuals.

The major source of conflict among the project teams are: differences in values, attitudes, needs, expectations, perceptions, resources, unclear project goals, disagreement on priorities or just personalities.

Project Managers can avoid conflicts in projects, through the following techniques:

  • Always inform the team of the project’s direction
  • Explain project objectives and the rationale
  • Clearly define project constraints in the project plan
  • Communicate decisions and changes plainly in a timely fashion
  • Clearly state expectations of individuals and the team
  • Assign work without ambiguity and overlapping responsibilities
  • Make work ssignment interesting and challenging

Training the project managers and cross functional teams on perfect listening and communication skills is required as majority of project manger time is spent on communicating with customer , contractors , suppliers..etc, and that need a skilled communicator, to eliminate any conflict.

Most of the time people who are trying to earn more points or get a control of a situation on others are the source of conflict, discussing and explaining the impact of that on the organization will reduce that in most cases.

However below methods of resolving conflict which can be applied in different given situations.

  • Withdrawal from the      conflict when: an issue is trivial or another outcome is more important;      when ‘winning the point’ is more trouble than it’s worth; or when someone      else can better handle the issue.
  • Suppression it is the peace at any cost. It involves emphasizing the points of agreement and deemphasizing the points of difference. It is best used when cooperation is desired on an important issue or the aim is to be seen as flexible or reasonable.
  • Forcing is directing the resolution in one way or another.  It is best used when the issue relates to rules and discipline. PMs should only force an issue when they know they are right and can back up their decision.
  • ·         Compromise will be a reasonable approach when moving forward is the most important outcome and you have tight time. Compromise involves each party giving in a little and gaining some ground in the process. It may mean that neither party is really satisfied with the outcome – each feeling they’ve lost something but the team will be able to move closer achieving the project goals.
  • Collaboration is the long term approach to conflict resolution. It is used when each person has valuable knowledge that needs to be contributed. It should also be used when damaged relationships need to be repaired and total commitment is required.

Definitely a little bit of conflict is not all bad. In fact the balance of conflict and collaboration can challenge people for innovation and devise more efficient and effective in ways of working together.