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Conflict Resolution

“Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing, just like stress may not always be a bad thing. Either of these can drive benefits or end in disaster. Unfortunately, probability tends to favor the negative outcome – unless strong controls and careful steering are put in place.”

“It is sometimes argued that conflict is healthy. But the idea that conflict drives some sort of beneficial decision-making or innovation is as wrong as assuming that a positive work environment always produces results. Conflict happens on projects whether we want it to or not. Our objective is to control and guide its impact and not allow it to run a negative course. Conflict is a state that is neither good nor bad. It’s only a starting point.”

Reasons for Conflicts

“There are many reasons for conflict within a project team during a project rescue initiative. Three basic questions tend to drive all the different types of conflict in a project salvage operation at some level, as follows:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. How are we getting there?
  3. What am I getting out of this?”

“Answering these questions to every team member’s satisfaction is an effective way to start building consensus. An additional set of questions can be formulated to augment these to drive out more detail. The accompanying figure uses two broad motivational categories, professional and personal, to frame these questions.”

“The questions in the professional motivational category highlight the fact that most professionals are interested in adding value to the organizations that employ them. This offers an important opportunity to find common ground, regardless of other differences that separate team members. It can also generate a powerful bond during a tight timeframe as long as progress is being made.”

“The questions in the personal motivational category can be further divided into additional subgroups. The ‘What am I getting out of this?’ question is a natural consideration for every human being. The question asks for clarity around what is available in terms of rewards, and also what needs to be made available to gain the focus and loyalty of different resources.”
If you'd like to learn more about how the PMI views conflicts and resolution strategies, the PMBOK® Guide provides that information in the Managing Human Resources chapter. If you'd like to become a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP®), we can help with AceIt©. To learn more about how AceIt© can prepare you to pass the exam, click here.