Conflict Management

I said earlier in this chapter that if you have more than one person working on your project, you have a team. Here's another fact: if you have more than one person working on your project, you'll have conflict.

Everyone has desires, needs, and goals. Conflict comes into the picture when the desires, needs, or goals of one party are incompatible with the desires, needs, or goals of another party (or parties). Conflict, simply put, is the incompatibility of goals, which often leads to one party resisting or blocking the other party from attaining their goals. Wait—this doesn't sound like a party!

There are six ways of resolving conflict that might show up on the exam:

Forcing Forcing is just as it sounds. One person forces a solution on the other parties. This is where the boss puts on the "Because I'm the boss and I said so" hat. Although this is a permanent solution, it isn't necessarily the best solution. People will go along with it because, well, they're forced to go along with it. It doesn't mean they agree with the solution. This isn't the best technique to use when you're trying to build a team. This is an example of a win-lose conflict resolution technique. The forcing party wins, and the losers are those who are forced to go along with the decision.

Smoothing/accommodating Smoothing does not lead to a permanent solution. It's a temporary way to resolve conflict where the areas of agreement are emphasized over the areas of difference so the real issue stays buried. Smoothing can also occur when someone attempts to make the conflict appear less important than it is. Everyone looks at each other and scratches their head and wonders why they thought the conflict was such a big deal anyway. As a result, a compromise is reached, and everyone feels good about the solution until they get back to their desk and start thinking about the issue again. When they realize that the conflict was smoothed over and really is more important than they were led to believe, or that they never dealt with the real issue at hand, they'll be back at it, and the conflict will resurface. This is an example of a lose-lose conflict resolution technique because neither side wins. Smoothing is also known as accommodating.

Compromise Compromise is achieved when each of the parties involved in the conflict gives up something to reach a solution. Everyone involved decides what they will give on and what they won't give on, and eventually through all the give and take, a solution is reached. Neither side wins or loses in this situation. As a result, neither side is really gung ho about the decision that was reached. They will drag their feet and reluctantly trudge along. If, however, both parties make firm commitments to the resolution, then the solution becomes a permanent one.

Confrontation/problem solving Confrontation is also called problem solving and is the best way to resolve conflict. One of the key actions you'll perform with this technique is a fact-finding mission. The thinking here is that one right solution to a problem exists and the facts will bear out the solution. Once the facts are uncovered, they're presented to the parties and the decision will be clear. Thus, the solution becomes a permanent one and the conflict expires. This is the conflict resolution approach project mangers use most often and is an example of a win-win conflict resolution technique.

Collaborating Collaborating occurs when multiple viewpoints are discussed and shared and team members have the opportunity to examine all the perspectives of the issue. Collaborating will lead to true consensus where team members commit to the decision.

Withdrawal/avoidance Withdrawal or avoidance never results in resolution. This occurs when one of the parties gets up and leaves and refuses to discuss the conflict. It is probably the worst of all the techniques because nothing gets resolved. This is an example of a loselose conflict resolution technique

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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