Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Solving team conflicts, part of Project Management Foundations: Teams.
A person that truly cares about something is willing to enter a conflict and argue for their beliefs. As projects bring about significant change, there is usually something, or many somethings, to argue about. If there are no conflicts in a project environment, I get scared. It's a potential indicator that the team is not engaged. So, arguing can be a good sign, but it needs to be managed to a logical conclusion.
It needs to be solved for the project to progress. In order to manage conflicts to these logical conclusions, I recommend following a consistent conflict management model. Let's take a look at a five step conflict management model I find useful. Step One: If two people believe they have a different point of view on a topic, they talk it through together to ensure they fully understand each other and can name the issue literally giving it a title.
Step Two: The team members involved in the named conflict then discuss options to resolve the conflict by talking it through together. If the issue is not resolved, the team members move to Step Three: They come to you as the project manager. These team members then must clearly, and to the other person's satisfaction, describe the other person's position and why they feel that is an important thing to pursue. If either person fails to describe the issue to the others' satisfaction, go back to Step Two.
Step Four is reached if, and only if, each conflicting team member can clearly state each other's perspective. Step Four involves the project manager working with the team members and deriving a resolution to the issue. Step Five is capturing the resolutions to the issue. After a clear statement of the issue is agreed to by all parties, and an agreed approach to address the issue has been discussed, the last element for successfully working through team conflicts is to clearly capture the resolution to the issue.
Project issue resolutions normally take the form of tasks that are assigned with specific owners and specific deadlines, exactly what exists in good project schedules. Ensuring your team universally understands the issue resolution is a great way to close the use of the conflict management model. The key to successfully applying this conflict management model is to get as much of each person's truths on the table.
The more differing perspectives and experiences these conflict discussions bring to the table, the better the conflict resolutions will be. In addition, this process also helps team members get to know each other better which also helps the team. It should be noted this process will also work when a team member has a conflict with you. You can take this approach before escalating a problem to your manager or the project sponsor.
One last point on solving team conflict; sometimes the best conflicts are ones you address before they actually become conflicts. Some conflicts can be avoided if you know what to look for. Common causes for team conflicts and project situations are; Differing preferences to build project deliverables, Work-style differences, differing views on risk, based on past experiences, incorrect assumptions about what deliverables are or what form they should take.
Managing team conflict can require energy, however, focusing on the fundamentals, ensuring all parties understand the topic of the conflict, sharing truths to get more perspective, and capturing issue resolutions in the form of tasks with deadlines, can help you work through your team conflict smoothly. When combined with identifying and avoiding common conflicts in the first place, you have a powerful model for dealing with differing opinions and using those differences to strengthen your team versus tear it down.
Along the way, discover how to negotiate for key resources, appreciate and maximize individual working styles, use emotional intelligence to add a personal approach to your management style, and resolve conflict.
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- Understanding the four key work styles
- Negotiating for your team
- Sharing a common objective
- Making team rules
- Directing the team
- Solving team conflicts<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.