How to effectively manage team conflicts in a project?
Conflict resolution. As understood in PMP Course online — it’s a dreaded two-word phrase that most bosses would prefer avoiding. It ranks right up there with “performance evaluations” and “departmental budgeting” as two of the least favourite chores that those in leadership must deal with unless they can find some poor unsuspecting soul to delegate those tasks to. I’ve been on the dumping side, but I’m not sure whether I’ve ever managed to get on the dumping side.
In my book, there are numerous approaches to addressing team disagreements, including disregarding the issue for a while and expecting it will go away on its own. When a hockey fight breaks out, the referees let it play out for a while to watch how it plays out, knowing that if they stop it in the first period, it will happen again in the second or third period. Watching for a little time also allows you to assess the issue and may help you deal with it more effectively when you do decide to intervene. As a result, you can miss a crucial project milestone or deadline. It’s possible that you’ll have to wait for the correct resource replacement with the right skill set, as well as go through a learning process. It can turn ugly and have a big impact on project timelines and budgets.
Here’s how I handle and resolve team conflicts in four steps. I call it my SLAP technique of team dispute resolution for a lack of a better term, or possibly because I like the acronym. What does S.L.A.P. stand for?
This is the first thing we must do after recognising that there is a problem that has to be addressed rather than something that will likely go away on its own. That may still be the case, and we can pray for it. In fact, like the hockey brawl, most of us will probably let it go on for a while in the hopes of gaining some insight, and all you have to do is ignore it or dish out some consequences. As a father, I do this on a regular basis with disagreements that emerge among my youngest six children, ages 10 and younger… think what it would be like if I walked into each of those “hockey” fights. “He said…!” says the narrator, but “she did!” says the narrator. But sort things out with the team, and only move forward when everyone is ready and in agreement — not before or too soon. However, you must finally come to a halt so that you may calmly discuss the situation with people involved for the project’s, team’s, and customer’s benefit.
Then we recognise we need to step in and take action to keep our team together and productive, as well as to keep the project from going off the rails, missing its deadline, and colliding head-on with high client expectations. You should peel your fingernails from their very fingernail beds rather than have your project customer become aware of and involved in any team disagreements that are occurring. Perhaps one resource believed they were being assigned low-value activities and desired what another resource was doing since it provided more productive hours and visibility. So, get down with the persons concerned and find out what their conflicts or disagreements are. Give everyone a chance to speak — show no favouritism and take no action right away, no matter how ridiculous or trivial someone’s complaint may appear to be.
3. Analyse and address.
So, you’ve sat the team down, or if the disagreement is really just between two or three people, you may be able to just sit them down and talk about it. What exactly are the problems? Are they authentic? Is it possible to solve them quickly? Do you need to take it to their supervisor if you’re working with project-only resources who report to management someplace else in the organisation? Do you need to replace one or more project team members? Watching for a little time also allows you to assess the issue and may help you deal with it more effectively when you do decide to intervene. The last thing you want is for your client to get involved and complain to your CEO since if your customer loses faith in your ability to govern and manage your project team, you’ll have a serious problem. As a result, you’ll almost certainly be fired from the project — and potentially the company. This should be avoided at all costs.
As understood in PMP Course online — it’s also a good idea to avoid having to replace any project resources if at all possible. Because replacing project resources in the middle of a project entails time, money, a learning curve, and an explanation to the project customer, the more you can do to discuss, analyse, and resolve inside the team, the better. As a result, you can miss a crucial project milestone or deadline. It’s possible that you’ll have to wait for the correct resource replacement with the right skill set, as well as go through a learning process. It can turn ugly and have a big impact on project timelines and budgets.
4. Push on.
Finally, move forward with whatever judgments or actions the conflict has dictated. Hopefully, it’ll be as simple as a team or team member conversation to air out any differences, make any necessary adjustments, and move on. Perhaps one resource believed they were being assigned low-value activities and desired what another resource was doing since it provided more productive hours and visibility. That could be a valid problem, and it’s possible that you, as the project manager, made some errors in work delegation that lead to it, or that it was necessary due to skill sets and experience. It’s up to you to figure out how to do that. But sort things out with the team, and only move forward when everyone is ready and in agreement — not before or too soon. Take your time since pushing forward before the issue is totally handled is just begging for it to reappear later in the project — maybe with far more serious consequences.
Summary/call for input
The basic line is that team conflict on a crucial project can spread throughout the team like cancer. It can cause an otherwise productive and competent team to become distrustful of one another, resulting in errors, delays, and even refusals to collaborate on projects. If it is not caught and resolved properly, respectfully, quietly, and swiftly, 3rd-grade behaviour might quickly become the norm. Don’t let this happen on one of your projects; treat team conflict as a risk to be managed on every project, and talk about the potential negative consequences right away. Make your team meetings pleasant for resources to express any concerns they may have.
What are your thoughts on this checklist and these steps? Do you agree with me? Have you ever had to deal with a quarrel between project team members? Issues with anger management (always entertaining!) or moments when two project resources simply couldn’t be in the same room? What exactly did you do? Please spread the word and talk about it.
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