Topic 10.6: Mediating conflict

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Conflict is inevitable in projects.

Sources of conflict include scarce resources, scheduling priorities, personal work styles and culture.

Team ground rules, group norms, and solid project management practices like communication planning and role definition can all reduce the amount of disruptive conflict, but can conflict be used for constructive ends?

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Successful conflict management actually results in greater productivity and positive working relationships.

When managed properly, differences of opinion can lead to increased creativity and better decision-making.

Conflict is in fact necessary for innovation, for without the free exchange and debate of new ideas, processes and practices become rigid and can hold performance back.

We have discussed elsewhere how to leverage and even encourage conflict in formal situations, such as team meetings and facilitated workshops, to arrive at new ideas.

As a project manager, though, you may find people in conflict with you, or you may be required to mediate a conflict between project team members and/or stakeholders.

Either way, there are some basic steps you should follow to successfully resolve the situation.