Functional Conflicts

In order for the project manager to be effective, he must understand how to work with the various employees who interface with the project. These employees include upper-level management, subordinate project team members, and functional personnel. Quite often, the project manager must demonstrate an ability for continuous adaptability by creating a different working environment with each group of employees. The need for this was shown in the previous section by the fact that the relative intensity of conflicts can vary in the life cycle of a project.

The type and intensity of conflicts can also vary with the type of employee, as shown in Figure 7-1. Both conflict causes and sources are rated according to relative conflict intensity. The data in Figure 7-1 were obtained for a 75 percent confidence level.

In the previous section we discussed the basic resolution modes for handling conflicts. The specific mode that a project manager will use might easily depend on whom the conflict is with, as shown in Figure 7-2. The data in Figure 7-2 do not necessarily show the modes that project managers would prefer, but rather identify the modes that will increase or decrease the potential conflict intensity. For example, although project managers consider, in general, that withdrawal is their least favorite mode, it can be used quite effectively with functional managers. In dealing with superiors, project managers would rather be ready for an immediate compromise than for face-to-face confrontation that could favor upper-level management.

Figure 7-3 identifies the various influence styles that project managers find effective in helping to reduce potential conflicts. Penalty power, authority, and expertise are considered as strongly unfavorable associations with respect to low conflicts. As expected, work challenge and promotions (if the project manager has the authority) are strongly favorable.

2. The majority of this section, including the figures, was adapted from Seminar in Project Management Workbook, © 1977 by Hans J. Thamhain. Reproduced by permission of Dr. Hans J. Thamhain.

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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