5 Tips For Conflict Management for Project Managers

Project managers often manage large groups of people from different places with diverse values, views, expectations, working methods, and attitudes to work together and complete tasks. These large groups often accomplish amazing feats in civility and harmony, but sometimes conflicts arise. 

Conflicts are unavoidable as long as humans are involved, especially if they work together. There will be a clash of ideas, values, debates, and disagreements. A moderate amount of this is expected and could bring about better decisions. However, if this disagreement gets out of control, it can damage potential projects and destroy team harmony.                

A project manager is also a conflict resolution specialist and should be able to diffuse a heated situation before it graduates into more destructive conflict. As a project manager, conflicts should serve as an opportunity to move the task forward and a chance for growth. 

During conflicts, team members can bare their minds and highlight unforeseen problems that might have hindered the project’s progress. People are in their most natural forms when they conflict with others. 

Nevertheless, a great project manager should be able to unite their team by understanding basic civil discourse terms; this way, the conflict will not escalate. 

One needs to know the issues that led to the conflict to resolve any conflict. Most times, the issues are pretty straightforward. Factors like insufficient resources, poor communication, limited budget, and poor leadership contribute to conflicts during project management. 

These factors, if left unchecked, can ruin a great project by reducing morale, giving access to unruly behavior and reducing productivity. Therefore, it is the job of the project manager to carefully and professionally resolve any emerging conflict immediately after it starts. 

Resolving conflicts involves more than blind memorization of civil discourse terms and strategies. It involves active listening, sound decision-making, and lots of other techniques.

Fortunately, these conflict resolution tips have been tested to help leaders and team managers to resolve conflict within their team better.

Let’s take a look at the tips below:

Active Listening

Many people are not aware that there’s a great difference between listening and active listening. In listening or passive listening, one hears the speaker’s words without thinking them through or responding. However, in active listening, the listener pays attention to the words being said and replies accordingly.

A project manager that intends to resolve the conflict in their team must imbibe active listening. To know what each team member thinks, the manager must actively listen to their views. 

Many people have cultural expectations that influence their behavior, so a project manager must listen carefully to understand their views and devise ways of resolving them. 

An important technique in active listening is asking questions. Acting based on assumptions is a fast road to failure. When the aggrieved party has finished relaying their opinion, ask questions and rephrase what they said. This way, you ensure that you completely understand their viewpoints before making any decision. 

Set Rules  

Although active listening is a necessary and important tool in a project manager’s conflict resolution toolbox, setting guidelines is the key. 

Suppose clear and concise rules are given to the team members early. In that case, the chances of conflicts arising during the project will be greatly minimized since everyone will know what is expected of them.

Do Not Use Intimidation or Force

Using your leadership power to make team members do what you say can only take you so far. They might do what you say out of fear, but they can’t approach you to discuss issues or problems they might have noticed with the project. 

Instead of using force or intimidation during conflicts, stay calm and actively listen to everyone’s concerns. Limit the urge to apportion blame and use civil discourse terms to get everyone back on track. 

Learn From Conflicts

Conflicts are bound to happen, so instead of shying away from them, using force or intimidation, learn from them. Team members may have disagreements about the pay scale or work scope. 

Instead of seeing it as a challenge, you should learn from it. For instance, you could ensure that there is an open communication channel so that employees can better express their views civilly.

Promote Teamwork

Promoting teamwork as a conflict resolution technique involves allowing the conflicting group to discuss the solution that will be favorable to them. The good thing about this technique is that everybody wins.

For instance, if there’s a disagreement about disproportionate pay among employees. The teamwork approach means everyone reviews their qualifications and experience, and no one is left behind. This, if done in civil discourse terms, will bring transparency and create a sense of camaraderie. Consequently, no one will feel cheated, and everyone will do their best to ensure the project comes to fruition.