Conflict Management

What is a conflict?

Conflict is some form of friction, disagreement, or discord within the project team or stakeholders.

Conflict Management

In a Project Environment conflict is inevitable. Some project managers could feel uncomfortable dealing the project conflicts. But the conflict it´s not necessary bad and could provide an opportunity to improve.
Formerly the conflict was considered something to avoid, that was produced by personally differences or leadership failure. But now is consider something inevitable caused by organizational interactions, that could be beneficial and is resolved identifying the causes and problem solving by people involved and their immediate managers.
The success of project managers leading their teams depends often in their ability to solve conflicts. Successful conflict resolutions lead in a productivity improvement and best relationship between project team.

Conflicts are inevitable because:

  • Nature of the projects where trying to meet the expectations of many stakeholders.
  • Limited power of the project manager.
  • Necessity of get resources from other departments or other projects .

The project manager must to deal with these conflicts to ensure the correct performance of the team and the project meet the goals.

Some recommended actions to try to avoid the conflicts are:

  • Provide clear information to the team about of:
  1.  A clear project organization chart.
  2. Project constraints and objectives.
  3. The project charter.
  4. A team ground rules.
  5. All key decisions.
  6. Changes.
  • Clearly assign the work without ambiguity or overlapping.
  • Making work assignments interesting and challenging.
  • Follow good management and project planning practices.


The source:

But what are the main source conflicts? According to the four edition of PMBOK, the main seven conflict reasons are listed below:

  1. Schedules
  2. Project priorities
  3. Resources
  4. Technical opinions
  5. Administrative Procedures
  6. Cost
  7. Personality

And a conflict becomes personal when the root cause it´s not resolved. The fifth edition of the PMBOK these conflict reasons are not mentioned.

Conflict Resolution:

Initially a conflict should be resolved by the people involved in. If the conflict is not resolved by the people involved, the project manager should try to resolve when he has authority over those in conflict or the issues in conflict. If not, the sponsor or the functional managers can assist the project manager.

The factors that influence in the conflict resolution are:

  •  Relative importance and intensity of the conflict.
  • Time pressure for resolving the conflict.
  • Position taken by the person involved.
  • Motivation to resolve the conflict on a long-term or in a short-term.

The fifth edition of PMBOK recognizes five conflict resolution techniques.

  • Withdraw/Avoid: Retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation; postponing the issue to be better prepared or to be resolved by others.
  • Smooth/Accommodate: Emphasizing areas of agreement rather than areas of difference; conceding one´s position to the needs of others to maintain harmony and relationships.
  • Compromise/Reconcile: Searching for solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction to all parties in order to temporarily or partially resolve the conflict.
  • Force/Direct: Pushing a viewpoint at expense of another. Usually enforced through a power position to resolve an emergency.
  • Collaborate/Problem Solve: Incorporating multiple viewpoints and insights from differing perspectives; required a cooperative attitude and open dialogue that typically leads to consensus and commitment, This is the only one win to win resolution technique.
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