Conflicts are an inevitable part of any project. Projects contain an infinite amount of stress, and members of the project management team and skilled workers will have conflicts. These conflicts may escalate into severe problems, which undermine the integrity and success of your project.
However, handling project conflicts properly can help your project stay on schedule without causing undue duress to your team. Take a look at six steps to handling project conflicts effectively and quickly.
Gather Information About the Project Conflict
When a project conflict arises, your first task should be gathering information about the conflict. Attempt to find out why the project conflict occurred, what factors influenced the conflict, what does each party in the conflict want, and what would the end result of each possible scenario reflect? Would one party gain an advantage, such as better pay or hours, over the second party?
Define the Goal of the Resolution
After gathering information, you need to define a goal for your resolution. Obviously, the overall goal is to have a resolution that improves all parties. However, pleasing everyone is not a viable option in project management, and one party will be adversely affected by your decision. Define a goal of your resolution that will show your ability to meet project deadlines without compromising values of any party in the conflict.
Define How the Resolution Affects All Parties
After deciding on a resolution, consider how it will affect each party in the conflict. Some resolutions may result in lost wages and disciplinary actions; however, each of these options will cause additional problems in the project. Try to view the problem as each affected party views the problem. How can you solve the problem for both parties without stepping on the toes of the other person? Basically, you become the moderator in the conflict.
Request Feedback From All Parties
Affected individuals in a conflict are more likely to agree to your wishes if you ask for their feedback about proposed solutions. This is crucial to making both parties’ opinions feel valued and respected during conflict resolution. Furthermore, this will help you make a decision on how to approach a potential resolution as you will have an insider’s view of the problem.
Devise an Alternative Solution When One Party Disagrees With Your Resolution
When resolving a conflict, one party will likely disagree with your decision. Try to come up with at least one alternative solution to help the “losing” party. This will help prevent future problems as well.
Reiterate the Values and Goal of the Project
When neither party feels your resolution is appropriate, you will need to exert your power within the project. Explain the goals, values, and benefits to society of your project. Reiterate how each person’s duties influence the outcome of the project, and advise conflicted parties to put differences aside in lieu of the greater good of the project.
Conflicts are difficult, and resolutions to conflicts may involve many upset opinions and issues with your leadership capabilities as project manager. However, you can ensure your conflicts are handled appropriately by following these tips and thoroughly vetting all solutions and causes of a conflict.
Key Points to Remember
- Always get as much information as possible about a conflict before making any decisions.
- Define the expected outcome of the resolution.
- Review how the resolution will affect each individual personally and within the context of the project.
- Ask for feedback from parties in conflict about your resolution.
- Come up with an alternate solution to the conflict.
- Use project goals and benefits as a rationale for resolving conflicts.
About Jeff Collins
Hi there, thanks for reading! As the President of IMS, I’ve just about seen it all in the project management industry. I’m happy to share my experiences to help managers and organizations improve their project performance. Please reach out to our team if you’re struggling to achieve your goals. We’d love to work with you to discover the PM solutions you need for success.