Conflicts among project teams can be inevitable since people tend to have varying viewpoints, which can sometimes escalate to disagreements and conflicts in certain circumstances. The best way to reduce conflicts in a project management team is to deal with the issues immediately by not ignoring or procrastinating on resolving them. Also, the manner in which conflicts are handled will determine whether they will work for the team’s benefit or contribute to the failure of the project. When people with different experiences, opinions and skills are given a similar task, their combined effort can surpass that of another group comprised of people with the same experiences. However, the diversity of the former group can also result in more conflicts, which if not dealt with, can work against their success. Below are five ways to resolve conflicts in your project team.
1. Acknowledge the existence of the conflict
There is no way conflicts will be resolved if they are not first acknowledged. Most times, people tend to ignore conflicts, deeming them as trivial or normal. However, if you are concerned about a conflict on your project team, it is important to acknowledge it and convey the same concern to the team. Once everyone acknowledges the problem, the resolution process can begin.
2. Agree to cooperate
The impact the disagreement is causing on the performance and dynamics of the team should be openly discussed. This will help to paint the true picture of the conflict and motivate everyone to cooperate on resolving it. This should also help every team member to put the project team first and put aside their own opinions. Those whom the conflict affects should agree to openly communicate their feelings and opinions.
3. Understand the conflict
At this stage, your role as the project manager is to actively listen to each party in order to clearly understand them. This means giving each member time to express him or herself and understanding each one’s position. Since strong emotions will most probably be at work, it is vital to see through them to understand the deep seated issues. At this step, it is also important to clarify each party’s position. When each position is clearly identified and understood by each member, it will help them to more objectively articulate the facts with reduced emotion.
4. Uncover the assumptions, facts and beliefs behind each position
This step is about finding out what each person or group believes in, what they value, the information behind the beliefs, and the processes and criteria they use to make decisions. To do so, break the project members into small groups. Ensure that people in the same alliance are separated. Each group should then uncover the assumptions, facts and beliefs of each position. This way, the team will be able to understand each position more objectively and even formulate solutions for the problems.
5. Reach an agreement
After each group has understood and articulated the other’s position, its time to convene them and let them make a decision on which action to take to resolve the issue based on the uncovered assumptions and facts. When this decision is reached, take time to acknowledge each person’s contribution towards the resolution process. This will build your project team’s confidence and cohesion in solving problems and can go a long way in averting future conflicts.