How to avoid Conflict in your Project?

How to avoid Conflict in your Project?
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Pradip, PMP

Published on August 6, 2012


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I do believe every one of us face the conflict issue in the project life cycle or product life cycle. May be small in nature, may be very big in nature – but a conflict is an issue and it is inevitable really. You should not expect that there would be no conflict in your project, there will be - and you have to face it through your interpersonal skills, project management skills.

Let me tell you, a conflict can poorly impact your project’s result. Remember that a small issue can bring a big impact on your project badly. So, beware of this! Don’t think that conflict is bad for your project always – sometimes it can open a way for opportunity in your project. Believe me!

A lot of management specialists believe that there is a chance of conflict if you are managing a long-term project, it does not means that there will be no conflict in the short-term project. As a good project manager you should resolve the conflict effectively. Now you can ask – what else are the factors where conflict can be originated? Or, in other words, what are the reasons for the conflict? Let me explain you in detail:

Factors of conflict:

There are so many factors responsible for an origin of conflict, like schedule, resources, cost, project priorities, technical opinions etc. And there are so many methodologies a project manager can adapt to prevent the conflict or reduce the bad impact on the project. They are interpersonal skills, sound way of communication, negotiation skills, leadership skills, making good decisions etc.

As a project manager, you should analyze very accurately the main reason of conflict before taking any decision on it. It is very important to find the root cause of conflict and then working on the options to solve this conflict. Let me give an example: Suppose there is a conflict between the two team members of your project. How would you resolve this? Will you interfere directly? Ideally, you should not involve yourself directly to this conflict. This conflict can be best solved by the affected team members – talking each other. If still problem, then the project manager should manage the same to the satisfaction level of both the team members aligning the organization’s ground rules and cultures.

Methodologies for conflict:

As per PMBOK® Guide, there are some methodologies which can be applied by the project manager in case of conflict. And so many management specialists recommend the same as well. Let me discuss those one by one:

Confronting (Problem Solving):

This is the best approach a project manager should apply in case of a conflict. A project manager should try to find the root cause of the conflict and then he or she can work on the perfect solutions. It is always good for a project success to apply this conflict methodology as it is a win-win situation for all the parties.

Compromising:

It is just second to confronting. If you have no solution on the conflict, you can sacrifice something to the satisfaction of both the parties. It means both parties involved here in the conflict will lose something. And it is lose-lose situation for both the parties.

Withdrawal (Avoidance):

This is really very bad approach in case of a conflict. A project manager should always work on the solutions, that’s why you are a project manager and you can’t just postpone the decision on the conflict, you have to take a decision, which is the solution only. Just try to approach this methodology in rare cases where the decision making is really very tough for you.

Smoothing (Accommodating):

Just try to make an agreement rather than difference in the opinions. As a project manager, you should work on the agreement among the parties.

Collaborating:

As a project manager you should work on the root cause of the conflict and should work on the multiple options of solution. And through this you should try to get the consensus on it. Generally, it is a good approach.

Forcing:

It is a win-lose approach really. One will win and another will lose through this approach. As a project manager, you are pushing someone’s view at the expense of others.

So, the ultimate conclusion is ‘confronting’ is the best methodology as it is a win-win for both the parties in case of a conflict and as a good project manager you should work on it. It is the best one.

 

PMBOK is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc. 

About the Author

Pradip Dwevedi, PMP is currently the Lead PMP Trainer / Corporate Trainer at Reputed Global R.E.P.s, India and also the Head – Project Management at Invida Trans IT Solutions PVT LTD. Prior to this, he was Divisional Manager at Stylo Graphic Imaging and before this he was working as Facilitator/Team Leader at Aptara.


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