The Management of Conflicts

Good project managers realize that conflicts are inevitable and that procedures or techniques must be developed for their resolution. If the project manager is not careful, he could easily worsen the conflict by not knowing how to manage it. Once a conflict occurs, the project manager must observe certain preliminaries, including:

• Studying the problem and collecting all available information

• Developing a situational approach or methodology

• Setting the appropriate atmosphere or climate

In setting the appropriate atmosphere, the project manager must establish a willingness to participate for himself as well as the other participants. The manager must clearly state the objectives of the forthcoming meeting, establish the credibility of the meeting, and sanction the meeting.

If a confrontation meeting is necessary between conflicting parties, then the project manager should be aware of the logical steps and sequence of events that should be taken. These include:

• Setting the climate: establishing a willingness to participate

• Analyzing the images: how do you see yourself and others, and how do they see you?

• Collecting the information: getting feelings out in the open

• Defining the problem: defining and clarifying all positions

• Sharing the information: making the information available to all

• Setting the appropriate priorities: developing working sessions for setting priorities and timetables

• Organizing the group: forming cross-functional problem-solving groups

• Problem-solving: obtaining cross-functional involvement, securing commitments, and setting the priorities and timetable

• Developing the action plan: getting commitment

• Implementing the work: taking action on the plan

• Following up: obtaining feedback on the implementation for the action plan

Once the conflict has been defined and a meeting is necessary, the project manager or team leader should understand the conflict minimization procedures.

22 See note 21.

• Building trust

• Trying to understand the conflict motives

• Keeping the meeting under control

• Listening to all involved parties

• Maintaining a give-and-take attitude

• Educating others tactfully on your views

• Being willing to say when you were wrong

• Not acting as a superman and leveling the discussion only once in a while

We can now sum up these actions by defining the role of the effective manager in conflict problemsolving. The effective manager:

• Knows the organization

• Listens with understanding rather than evaluation

• Clarifies the nature of the conflict

• Understands the feelings of others

• Suggests the procedures for resolving differences

• Maintains relationships with disputing parties

• Facilitates the communications process

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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