When a group of people work together as a team, in order to achieve a common goal, it is to be expected that some conflict will arise. Collaboration, at the expense of its tremendous benefits to an organization, unfortunately also leads to conflict.
However, conflict is not always destructive. It can generate new ideas and approaches and a sense of beneficial competition that encourages everyone to perform better. At the same time, when negative conflicts arise, people usually feel discouraged and distrustful, which quickly leads to a dangerous climate.
For project managers managing a group of people, it’s a titan job to make sure all team members can get along. The reason is that each member of the group has their own goals, ambitions, interests, points of view and way of acting. Disagreements can therefore arise quite frequently. Whether your team disagrees on strategy, technology, processes or even the perspective with which they look at a particular issue, if left unchecked, conflicts can lead to adverse effects within organizations.
Conflict, when handled correctly, strengthens.Benjamin Watson
While conflict is inevitable in the workplace, and dealing with it can seem challenging for new project managers, there are conflict management techniques that will help your team resolve their disagreements constructively and work together cohesively.
Let’s find out how can we deal with team conflicts in organizations
1. Accepting that a conflict exists
Perhaps sometimes it seems easier to spend the whole day pretending there is no conflict or disagreement. Project managers facing a time crunch, in particular, don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details of why their team members don’t get along. Their goal is to get the project done on time, so they may not notice that the disagreements that arise could actually lead to the failure of the entire project. That’s why it’s extremely important for project managers to take steps to nip conflicts in the bud, first by acknowledging their presence and then by taking the right steps to resolve them, depending on the situation and the personalities of those involved.
2. Creating a framework for cooperation
As soon as the conflict is identified, it is time for the project manager to take the necessary steps to resolve it. To begin with, it is important to ensure that each member of the team is aware that they should not be putting personal needs or desires first, but rather the success of the project. It is also necessary for the project manager to establish some ground rules about what can and cannot be done. At the same time, he or she should ensure that all team members put aside personal opinions or even vendettas and focus instead on the bigger picture. The project manager should be able to ask pointed questions that help determine the cause of the conflict and get straight to the root of the problem.
3. Understand each team member’s point of view to make an informed decision
After the team has been encouraged to express their views on how a particular issue should be handled, you will need to walk around the circle to find out each member’s point of view on the situation. Clarifying the views of each person involved in the project will help you to understand whether the conflict is caused by isolated opinions or whether they are shared by other members of the group.
Is it a conflict between individuals or is it one person against the others on the team or could it be parts of the team coming into conflict with each other? Each person’s point of view needs to be heard and understood in order to successfully get to the heart of the conflict.
4. Working together to identify a solution that will benefit the whole project
Because you take into account the point of view of each team member, you also show them that their opinions and reflections are important and valuable for the final decision. Now is the time to ask the team for a resolution. Since everyone agrees that the successful completion of the project is the priority, each team member will also be aware that the resolution strategy they are offering is truly a useful one for everyone involved. Giving them the respect and freedom to share their own way of thinking also gives each team member more responsibility and accountability.
5. Exercise your authority when appropriate
Not all team members always agree with the final solution that has been proposed. In situations where there is a high degree of risk, you simply cannot allow a conflict to drag on, so it is advisable to be authoritative, to assert your authority, in order to maintain your position on the proposed solution. What does this mean? Sometimes it can simply mean giving an order to your team to resolve the conflict as quickly as possible!
6. Avoid the conflict
A withdrawal can be an ideal solution when the problem itself is not a real problem. Avoiding the situation until the person calms down can be more productive than trying to resolve it immediately. Project managers should use common sense when making such a decision and also ensure that the team member does not feel ignored or neglected, but rather that they are just given time to think about the situation. Once the situation calms down, you can expect to have a more constructive discussion.
Sometimes conflicts can be easy to resolve and sometimes they can seem unmanageable. There’s no one-size-fits-all method for resolving conflict because, after all, people and their emotions vary from situation to situation. Regardless of the nature of the cause of the conflict, whether it’s that team members aren’t aware of what’s expected of them or that there’s a power struggle at work, it’s important to find ways to resolve disagreements as quickly as possible. Project managers need to be particularly experienced in learning different conflict management styles and using them rationally and appropriately for beneficial conflict resolution.
The goal is to build a team that focuses on learning from mistakes, improves on communication, and ultimately delivers better project results.
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