Conflict Resolution Techniques

conflict resolution techniques - Conflict Resolution Techniques

Let’s get the fact out of the way first – Conflicts are inevitable in a project environment. Period.

Here are the top 3 sources of conflicts that account for 50% of all conflicts,

  • Schedules
  • Project Priorities
  • Resources

Other sources of conflicts are Personalities, Cost and Technical Opinions.

Here are some of the things that can help reduce the amount of conflicts,

  • Ground rules
  • Role definition with the help of tools like RACI charts
  • Communication planning

As a Project Manager, if you are successful in conflict management, it results in greater productivity and positive working relationships. Infact you can take it up a notch and drive this difference of opinion of the team towards increased creativity and better decision making.

The five techniques to resolve conflicts are,

1. Withdraw / Avoid

Postpone the issue to prepare for a resolution or wait for it to be resolved by others. Example – Deliberately not responding to emails

2. Smooth / Accommodate

Emphasize the areas that all parties agree on rather than the areas of difference. Example – Reiterating the points everyone agree to

3. Compromise / Reconcile

Exploring options that would bring some degree of satisfaction to all parties involved even if it resolves the conflict temporarily or partially. Example – Agree to one suggestion of all the parties, results in a lose-lose situation

4. Force / Direct

Basically be autocratic. This need not necessarily mean push one’s own viewpoint, it may also mean pushing someone else’s viewpoint through. Example – In one of The Economist’s recent article, it was noted that – After at least 80% of meetings, any decisions taken will be in line with the HIPPO, or “highest-paid person’s opinion”. This results in a win-lose situation

5. Collaborate / Problem Solving

If you think this sounds the best way to resolve a conflict, you are correct! It requires a cooperative attitude and open dialogue in order to incorporate multiple viewpoints and insights from different perspectives. Example – Reaching a consensus on how to resolve the conflict, results in win-win situation

Some of the factors that influence conflict resolution methods include,

  • The intensity of the conflict
  • Authority of the people involved in the conflict
  • Time available to resolve the conflict
  • Criticality of maintaining a good relationship
  • Motivation to resolve the conflict whether its for long-term or short-term basis

Some texts including PMBOK go as far to state that the success of project managers in managing their project teams often depends on their ability to resolve conflicts.

Check more articles on Resource Management

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