Saturday 4 December 2021

Resolving Conflicts in a Project Team



When different people come together in one team, conflict is almost inevitable. It can be a conflict based on personal or professional relationships. However, not all conflicts are harmful. Sometimes conflict reveals the best qualities of people and helps to build mutual understanding between them. But when conflict begins to harm team cohesion and jeopardize common goals, then it becomes a cause for alarm. That is why the conflict must be properly identified, analyzed and settled.

First of all, it is necessary to recognize the existence of conflict and then look for its causes The conflict can be caused by mismatched goals or personal clashes. It is necessary to understand the essence of the conflict in order to choose the appropriate approach to its resolution.

Incompatible goals

Although team members may have common project goals, they may have different internal goals that contradict each other's goals. This can manifest itself in various forms, such as duplication of work, tossing of work, making decisions that affect other team members without consulting or reporting on them.

Differences in internal goals can be caused by a misunderstanding or distribution of scale, incorrect internal prioritization, unclear dependencies, lack of uniform communication rules.

Internal goals can also diverge when a project has extremely tight deadlines. In such projects, each member of the project team delves into the performance of his part of the work, not responding to the needs of colleagues who depend on it. Although the members of the kmanda achieve their internal goals, the main goal of the project suffers.

If the above is the case, then the project manager should seriously consider:

  • Clear definition of the scope of authority and setting boundaries by project team members.
  • Clarify dependencies between project team members and ensure that their internal goals align.
  • Organization of joint meetings to develop key decisions.
  • Establish a communications plan, a mechanism for transferring problem resolution to a higher level in the hierarchy.
  • Promoting the interests of the project above the interests of the project team.
  • Personal problems

Conflicts do not necessarily originate from incompatible goals, but are related to the people involved. It can be caused by personal clashes between specific people, thereby affecting the work as a whole.

This can be due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Aggressive human style.
  • Misconceptions formed due to a lack of personal interaction.
  • Personal dislike.
  • The project manager should draw the attention of the people involved to the personal conflict and explain how the conflict affects the interests of the project as a whole.

The project manager may consider the following options:

  • Commenting on the way a person works, if it hinders cohesion.
  • Gathering a group to increase attachment and overcome personal biases.
  • Emphasizing the need to separate personal prejudices from immediate tasks.
  • Mutual trust is critical to minimizing harmful conflicts within the project team, whether it's the goal or personal issues. 

To remove communication barriers and increase mutual trust, the project manager may consider the following ways to organize and host teams:

A team of specialists of different profiles: Instead of organizing the project into groups in accordance with the skills or departments, the project manager can rebuild the project into teams of specialists of different profiles, taken from different departments and implementing a single subsystem. This will improve the interaction between people, as they will now have to work as a team.
Combined Teams: The project manager should consider placing teams in the same area. When teams work close together, communication barriers are erased and team relationships improve.

Although it may not be possible or necessary to eliminate the conflict completely, the project manager should try to minimize harmful conflicts and control beneficial conflicts.

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