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Conflict is a necessary part of a healthy team and organization. But too much conflict can be toxic and negatively affect your productivity. Here are 10 ways to effectively manage conflict on project teams.
Adapted from: Managing Technology-Based Projects by Hans J. Thamhain
1 BE A SUBJECT EXPERT
Without an understanding of current trends,
technology, and work processes, it is
difficult to win the confidence of the team
and to build the credibility needed to
manage conflict across projects.
If flaunted, expertise can be intimidating
and demotivating to the team.
It biases solutions toward the project
manager’s ideas, which in turn weakens
any team buy-in.
Effective planning early in the project life
cycle is important to minimize confusion
and ambiguity that might lead to conflict
later during the project execution phase.
4CATCH CONFLICT EARLY
Good project managers know when conflict
is under control and being handled by the
team and when some early intervention
Tools for intervention include regular
gate reviews, an open-door policy, action
teams, and focus groups.
AVOID THE QUICK
A quick agreement on fixing a major
problem should be looked at with suspicion.
To avoid this trap, project managers should
follow up on agreements with an email or
second meeting to iron out details and make
sure that the issues have been addressed.
The initial objective of most conflict
resolution is to reach consensus, not
necessarily unanimity, on how to proceed.
This requires common ground found
through mutual respect for everyone’s
ideas, opinions, and suggestions.
7 THE ART OF LISTENING
Active listening includes questions of
clarification to understand the arguments
of the opposing party.
It is an important catalyst for fostering an
environment open to discussing issues
and searching for solutions.
USE JUDGMENT BEFORE
RESORTING TO FORCING
While appropriate and effective in certain
situations, forcing and withdrawing can
have adverse effects if used inappropriately,
especially when dealing with conflict
across functional lines.
Less autocratic, more team-centered manage-
ment styles that provide space for autonomy
and self-direction foster an environment of
lower conflict, both in intensity and frequency.
9 FINE-TUNE YOUR
CREATE A PROFESSIONALLY
STIMULATING WORKPLACE 10
A professionally exciting, vibrant envi-
ronment is a strong catalyst for conflict
Project managers should try to accommo-
date the professional interests and desires
of supporting personnel when negotiating
their tasks whenever possible.