How to Manage and Resolve Project Conflicts
Conflict management is the practice of minimizing the negative effects of conflict while maximizing the positive effects of conflict in the workplace. The main goal of conflict management strategies is to improve teamwork by implementing some conflict management techniques such as competing, compromising, collaborating, avoiding, and accommodating. For sure, a project team composes of humans, not machines. They have emotions and various expectations. So, conflict is inevitable among team members. Once a conflict arises between the stakeholders and team members, the project manager often spends a whole day for resolving the issue. In this article, we aggregate the best conflict management and resolution strategies to help you to manage your project successfully.
The Role of Effective Resource Management in Managing Project Conflicts
Resource management is one of the most important aspects of project management. This means if you manage your resources successfully, most probably, you will achieve the project goals. Without effective resource allocation and resource leveling, as a project manager, it will be difficult for you to complete your deliverables on time.
Within a project, when the resources are in short supply, the working environment becomes more successful. Because they spend working hours for planning and supplying the resources. As a result, conflicts may arise among team members.
On the other hand, if a huge amount of resources are available on site long before the relevant task begins, your project will suffer from financial hardships.
Why Conflict Management Matters
As a project manager, one of your essential tasks is dealing with people. Consequently, you may also be the cause of some conflicts. For example, when the things go wrong, a number of project managers may criticize people heavily and rub their nose in the dirt. Although, project managers often have the full authorithy on the workforce, in some structures, people may also report to other managers.
The examples given above can be increased. No matter who causes issues, if you don’t know how to resolve conflicts, an unhappy working environment will occur. Disputes will not be managed and the team may be seperated into factions. As a result, many important tasks may not be completed on time.
12 Strategies to Manage and Resolve Project Conflicts
Undoubtfully, managing conflicts is one of the most important tasks of a project manager. Therefore, you need to use various conflict management strategies because you have to deal with various people. You can use the below methods to manage conflicts in your projects.
#1: Don’t Think Twice About Using Your Power
Where there are high risks or dangers, don’t think twice about using your power because power is a method to resolve conflicts. As a project manager, you must issue a command to overcome major problems such as safety risks.
#2: Avoid Conflicts
According to the PMBOK Guide, Avoid Conflicts is a technique in conflict management. As a project manager, you can use avoid/withdraw technique when the issue is noteless or you don’t have any chance of winning. Although avoidance does not resolve the conflicts all the time, it gives you time to be prepared well for the issue.
Compromising is a good way to manage project conflicts. When you need a quick temporary solution, the compromise technique is for you. It s one of the most popular methods because it provides a win-win solution to both parties.
#4: Get the Help You Need From the Sponsor
When the issue is beyond your limits, you can ask your project sponsor for help. Before to ask for support, brief the situation and explain the actions that you have taken before. Don’t hesitate to tell your own approaches regarding the solution to the issue.
Although smoothing is a useful technique to manage project conflicts, misuse of this may damage your position as a leader. On the other hand, you can get the benefits of using this technique When other people have more effective solutions regarding the issue.
#6: Detect the Root Cause of the Problem
Obviously, not all things are what they look like. Try to understand the root cause of the problem before applying techniques to resolve it. For instance, in order to resolve issues regarding low performance, you can focus on procurement problems instead of insufficient manpower.
Considering your daily workload, you need to delegate tasks to team members. In a similar way, if the issue is not so serious, you can delegate conflict resolution to one of your team members. Thus, you can give a chance to that person to take over the responsibility. Note that delegation does not extinguish your responsibilities. Therefore, you need to choose the right person for resolution.
#8: Encourage Decision Making
This is one of the most effective strategies to manage project conflicts. If you encourage your team members to participate in decision-making regarding the solution to the problem, you will get actionable insights from them. Thus, you might prevent any conflict from arising.
#9: Hold a Meeting
Holding a meeting is one of the most effective conflict resolution strategies. A project manager spends most of his time with meetings. Because meetings are face-to-face communication tools. You can gather up each party involved in the conflict to talk about the solutions. This will provide you a chance to resolve the problems quickly.
#10: Be a Good Listener
If you listen to other people’s opinions, you can gather more information regarding the situation. Note that listening to others is important for your personal development because it provides you a different point of view.
#11: Get Help from Outside
Sometimes, you need support from someone external to your organization. An expert, a lawyer, or a mediator can help you to manage and resolve the project conflict. Because you can not handle things yourself all the time.
#12: Leave the Door Open for Communications
After difficult conversations, parties may become distraught about the solution method. It is a good idea to leave the door open for communications to discuss the issue again.
Conflicts arise when two or more parties have different objectives, attitudes, or opinions for the same situation. Project management is not just managing project activities or tracking the budget. During your career in project management, you will face many problems because you will direct the workforce. People will come to your office with various demands. Telling “no” to parties involved in the project is not a good strategy all the time. So, you must know the conflict resolution strategies.
How to manage and resolve project conflicts? What are your conflict resolution strategies? Let us know your experiences and strategies for conflict management through the comments section below. We will be happy to know your methods for managing challenging problems.
Lorena Denny is a passionate Transformation, Portfolio, Program & Project Management Consultant with a natural flair for breathing new life and energy into individuals, teams and projects, moving people to action and making change happen. She is the founder of Lorena Denny Consultancy.