One of the major requirements for an agile project leader is the ability to identify conflicts and resolve them at the earliest. In agile, conflict is referred to in two variations. Firstly, conflict indicates that the agile team is feeling free to voice their opinions and the differences and issues taking place within the agile team. Secondly, if the conflict is not resolved instantly by the agile team members it can create problems affecting the wider interests of the project. Based on the intensity level, conflict in agile is classified into five levels and termed as the five levels of agile conflict. The higher the conflict level, the more it becomes difficult for project leaders to resolve the issue with an amicable settlement.

Read more: What is Agile: Understanding Agile Methodologies and Principles

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5 Levels of Agile Conflict

Agile Conflict Level 1

In the level 1 of agile conflict, the agile team identifies the problem rising in the project. The team discusses and shares about the problem among the team members and also along with the agile project leader. This level of conflict is a constructive problem solving phase that is common to all high level agile projects.

Agile Conflict Level 2 

In level 2 of agile conflict, the conflict becomes a matter of disagreement among the agile team members. The agile team members begin to distance themselves from each other. Due to various problems they stop taking the initiative for resolving the conflict. Although this level doesn’t witness an open war, all the team members ideally wait for some other to enter and resolve the conflict.

Agile Conflict Level 3

In level 3 of agile conflict, multiple problems left unresolved causes difficult positions inside the agile team. Different groups within the same team are built up and every agile team member stands supporting one or the other group. In that case the conflict becomes like a contest and more than resolving the issue the focus is more highlighted on winning rather than compromising.

Agile Conflict Level 4

In level 4 of agile conflict the contest becomes a crusade. In this level the groups started thinking that the other group will never change and therefore must be decimated. Positions get replaced and the only focus is on protecting one’s belonging group.

Agile Conflict Level 5 

In level 5 of agile conflict, the conflict becomes a war where no solution seems to be arising. Here, it literally heads to complete destruction by mutual consent. This is the highest difficulty level of agile conflict.

Levels of Organizational Conflict

Most workplace incompatibilities can be traced back to underlying organizational conflict. Four distinct forms of discord can impact an individual or a community, and they are collectively referred to as the "levels of conflict." Managing conflict in an organization entails keeping the level of conflict at each of the four levels at a manageable medium. In each stage, you'll face different obstacles and unlock different rewards. Here is a quick rundown of the various levels of conflict:

1. Intrapersonal Conflict

This stage describes an argument that exists solely within one person. This discord is a product of your mind, heart, values, and preferences. It can happen if you're torn between two competing desires, like doing something or not doing something.

2. Interpersonal Conflict

This type of conflict might arise between two or more people in a broader company. It may be due to distinct character traits or approaches to problem-solving. There might be interpersonal conflicts without anyone even being aware of the fact.

3. Intragroup Conflict

This amount of conflict is inevitable in groups where individuals have widely varied perspectives, experiences, and perspectives. Though they may share an end objective, they may have different ideas about how to get there. In addition, when team members' communication styles and personalities clash, intragroup conflict can also arise.

4. Intergroup Conflict

Such instances arise when subsets of a more prominent organization do not share common values or aims.

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How to Manage Each Level of Conflict?

An environment of conflict can be beneficial because it encourages workers to think outside the box and find novel approaches to resolving issues. Here are some suggestions for dealing with workplace conflicts of varying severity.

1. Managing Intrapersonal Conflict

Learning to deal with the inevitable daily dose of interpersonal conflict is a great way to strengthen your ability to think critically and make sound decisions. To deal with internal conflicts:

Follow Your Values

Think about how the conflict affects your values and the things most important to you at work. Then, think about potential answers in light of how well they fit with your values and goals.

Check Your Company Policy

If any corporate policies could be relevant, you should look into them. If there are established protocols, follow them; otherwise, consult a manager.

Write the Conflict down

Examine the benefits and drawbacks of your disagreement and think about the results you could experience with the available choices. Then, pick the option that seems to have the most chance of success.

Be Conscious of Time

Always remember how much time is available for finding a solution. It may be helpful to impose a deadline for resolving the disagreement.

2. Managing Interpersonal Conflict

When team members can calmly discuss and work through their differences, they are better able to accomplish their goals. Workplace relationships can be strengthened, and fresh ideas can be generated. Here are four ways to deal with workplace tension:

Define the Conflict

The first step in resolving a conflict is determining its nature. It includes pinpointing the first incident that sparked the dispute and understanding each party's response to it. Next, consider the situation from all parties' points of view to reach an agreement that satisfies everyone.

Put the Conflict into Context

Discuss how the conflict has affected everyone involved, the project, and the workplace. As a result, the parties may be more willing to work together to find a resolution to the problem.

Create Options

Let each side propose a solution to the problem, and see what comes up. At this stage, all sides can consider potential avenues for a peaceful resolution. The parties can also work together to come up with win-win solutions.

Agree on a Solution

Find a compromise that works for everyone involved. If you want to analyze and track the success of a resolution, creating goals at this point is essential.

3. Managing Intragroup Conflict

Maintaining employee productivity and ensuring teams complete group goals can be helped by managing intragroup conflict. To help you effectively address and resolve problems within your group, here are three measures to take:

Discuss the Conflict as a Team

Communicate honestly about what led to the disagreement and how each of you feels about it. This stage guarantees that everyone is heard and that the problem may be discussed openly. Then, ask everyone on the team to explain their stances and the reason for their positions.

Collaborate in Small Groups

Separate the team into subgroups where members can share their own perspectives. First, examine the issues at hand and consider the benefits and drawbacks of potential resolutions. Then, get everyone together and share what they've come up with thus far. Fewer people trying to argue their side in a smaller group means more in-depth conversations.

Reach a Decision

Collectively settle on a plan of action or establish if more brainstorming is required. Obtain buy-in from all parties and confirmation that they support the chosen course of action.

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4. Managing Intergroup Conflict

Intergroup conflicts can be used productively to enhance relationships between teams, generate fresh ideas, and boost confidence in the team's ability to resolve future problems. Following these first three steps will help you get going in the right direction:

Discuss the Issue With All Relevant Parties

For example, you may discuss with many people at once in an open forum. This setup can be helpful in issues affecting a sizable population and can be used to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders with fewer individuals.

Have a Closed Meeting With Necessary Stakeholders

Sometimes, only a few people, like team leaders or department heads, are needed to address an intergroup conflict. This measure may follow an open forum or serve as the primary method of conflict resolution.

Gather a Variety of Possible Solutions

Recommend that both parties regularly meet to discuss any problems that may occur. To get a better understanding of the problem from the opposing team's point of view, it may be helpful to shuffle team members about. Then, have them brainstorm ideas to make the most significant difference possible. 

Moreover, holding a vote to see how each party feels about the potential options could help reach a consensus.

Tips for Managing Conflict in the Workplace

While the procedures mentioned above are helpful for resolving some types of workplace conflicts, you should also examine the following suggestions for handling conflict in a broader range of contexts:

Schedule an Appropriate Meeting Time and Place

Make sure everyone is willing to take the time to discuss the problem. Locate a place with little outside distractions where you can have an in-depth conversation.

Stay Calm and Be Specific

Try to keep your cool and focus where it will do the most good during the meeting. In order to resolve a problem, it is essential to talk about the specifics involved.

Use Active Listening

One strategy for demonstrating empathy is to grasp the other party's perspective. Involving yourself in this stage can assist you and the group as a whole in better comprehending the issue you're trying to mediate.

Celebrate Progress and Successes

Reward people on your team for attempting to alter their habits or approach. It's important to recognize and celebrate successes when the team can accomplish its desired goals.

Agile Conflict Resolution

An agile project leader should understand the level of agile conflict and take necessary steps based on the difficulty level. Here are some ways of agile conflict resolution that an agile project leader needs to follow against the different levels of agile conflict.

  • At agile conflict level 1, one must focus on collaboration and consensus. The team is in a constructive discussion and all they need is encouragement and a push to make them try towards attaining a solution for the problem. The agile project leader should make sure that each team member is heard and respected throughout the discussion process.
  • At agile conflict level 2, the team should be brought together for a discussion. At this level there is willingness to discuss and resolve the problem and therefore the team should be supported to come ahead as they will not do so on their own.
  • At agile conflict level 3, one must need to involve the team in some give and take and start discussions. One must make sure that personal rivalries take a back seat and everyone negotiates for an open discussion.
  • At agile conflict level 4, shuttle diplomacy is required. Here the level of conflict is higher and therefore bringing both the groups together for a discussion is not possible. One needs to take both the teams separate and try to resolve the differences before letting them for a table discussion.
  • At agile conflict level 5, the collateral damage is fixed. Only thing that one can do in this conflict level is to try and limit the damage.
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