5 Ways to Manage Conflict

5 Ways to Manage Conflict

This week I have another guest post for you by Amit Patel who started crushthepmexam.com as an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass their PMP Exams on their first try.

5 Ways to Manage Conflict

Conflict is very common in the world of project management. It is highly likely that conflict will develop in any project, with the likelihood increasing as the scope of the project grows. Conflict can slow down a project in best case scenarios, and kill them entirely in the worst. However, while conflict is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your project.

A successful project manager is knowledgeable on the nature of conflict, and can defuse conflict when it occurs. Keep these five tips in mind, and you should be able to effectively manage any conflict that arises.

Tip 1: Identify the Victim, Hero, and Villain

Conflict resolution theory divides the participants of a given conflict into three separate groups, known as the Drama Triangle. Every person involved sees themselves, and the other participants, as either a victim, a hero, or a villain. When managing conflict, it’s important to figure out which is which, as it explains a great deal about each participant’s motivation. A victim will typically feel helpless to their circumstances, and a hero may engage in self-righteous behavior for the sake of opposing a perceived villain. Once these labels have been identified for each participant, you can begin changing each person’s perception of the situation, and defusing the conflict.

Tip 2: Attempt a Compromise

In the case that conflict arises as a result of different parties having conflicting needs, aim to reach a common ground in the middle. A compromise that is best implemented should leave all involved parties feeling like their needs were heard, understood and met to the best of their ability, resulting in a win-win-win situation. This is most easily accomplished when there is enough time to devote to the conflict, and when all parties are open to a dialogue free from emotional baggage. This is the best way to handle conflict, as it maintains current relationships and power structures.

Tip 3: Smooth Things Over

If a total compromise isn’t possible, the next best course of action is to mitigate the damage. This may involve changing several aspects of the project team, or the project itself. The goal here is to strengthen the aspects of a project where all parties are in agreement, and de-emphasize the aspects where parties are in conflict. In many cases, this will not completely resolve the conflict in question. However, smoothing things over in this way can be helpful when you are short on resources and need to continue working on the project in question.

Tip 4: Don’t Waste Time

While you should prioritize resolving conflict effectively as it occurs, you need to be mindful of the time wasted in the process. According to one study, project managers devote around 20% of their time solely to managing conflict. For the sake of your project, you may need to make quick decisions to cut down on time spent that isn’t productive. In some cases, this means putting off conflict resolution until a later date, or it can mean exercising force to push a one-sided solution. These methods of conflict management have negative consequences, but if you have a tight deadline, they may be necessary for the sake of the project.

Tip 5: Learn From Experience

Regardless as to how severe the conflict is that you are managing, how many people are involved, and whether or not it is successfully resolved, you can learn something from the experience. An effective project manager can identify the lesson in every conflict, and apply lessons from previous experiences when managing conflicts in the future. The lesson you take away from each conflict could be about your client’s needs, the synergy of your team members, or how you handle yourself under pressure.

Amit Patel started crushthepmexam.com as an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass their PMP Exams on their first try. Amit provides reviews of pmp courses online to help student find the right individualized fit to ensure their success.