How to Handle Conflict When Project Planning


Humans have different backgrounds and philosophies. This uniqueness makes them adequate to fill various roles on a project. However, these differences result in opposing positions, performance discrepancies, and varying perceptions. These conflicting views make project planning more challenging.

Projects involve many people and processes, making it difficult to appease everyone. Therefore, project managers must be able to identify conflicts, understand the dynamics, and bring quick resolutions to them. Utilize project management tools to help improve collaboration and reduce conflict across your team.

Conflict is a social phenomenon and a part of every organizational setting. It causes unproductivity, project failure, cuts out creativity, and increases employee turnover when not handled properly. As it should be expected, here’s how to handle conflict when planning projects.

Understand the Problem

To resolve any conflict, you must understand the nature of the strife and who is involved. Is it a matter of poor communication, beliefs, or responsibilities? Understanding the conflict helps you know a suitable line of action to tow. If it’s a heated issue, you might need to meet with involved employees separately first to understand their perception of the problem.

Honesty and communication are vital to handling conflict. The project manager must be open about the problem and not pick sides subconsciously. Ask questions to ensure you understand and convey that you take the conflict seriously.

The process might take time, so be patient enough to understand everyone’s perspective. Avoid rushing through conflict resolution, which could create even more significant problems down the road. Be careful not to be emotional so you can see through blame-shifting and half-truths. If you get caught on the web, you might just well complicate the problem.

Consider All Sides

You need to get all parties involved and hear all sides of the conflict. Usually, people’s emotions are all over the place, and you need to ensure that both parties understand each other. Ensure that no one disrupts the other during the presentation and limit comments until later. Active listening helps you validate their ideas and helps them realize they’re being heard.

Understand what all your options are in handling the conflict. Also, never focus on personalities but behaviors and events. Try to eliminate generalizations as much as possible and allow employees to talk about specifics. Be sure both parties know you value their perspectives and are heard before the meeting ends.

Do Your Research

Irrespective of what you’ve been told, you still need to scrutinize the problem. People are subjective when they give their sides of the story, blinded to their flaws. If need be, validate claims from neutral parties to be sure of the information aggrieved employees provided you. Be confident you have all the facts and not opinions before deciding.

To ensure you’re not acting on opinions, ask opposing sides to present supporting material to back up their claim. For instance, if a conflict arises when an employee is overwhelmed by their duties, ask for their weekly report or tasks spreadsheet for clarity. You might need to tap into databases and run reports for a deeper understanding of conflicts at some other points. This process could be time-consuming but worth its weight in gold.

Make the Best Call for the Company

When you have enough facts and data, it is time to decide, choose what is best for the greater good. To get to this point, you need to analyze all options available to you objectively. A guiding principle is to choose the solution that best serves the company and its goal best.

If team members are disputing over a problem-solving approach, you need to analyze their different perspectives. Consider the facts available and then decide on the most appropriate course of action in the company’s best interest. Understand what you might lose by taking a particular stance and embracing any side effects.

Explain the Decision

When you finally decide on a course of action, explain the rationale to your team. Provide staff with supporting materials and strategies to resolve the conflict going forward. If there’s a need for changes to policies and regulations, do so. They must see clearly that your decision is well-researched and objective.

Timely and clear communication helps everyone stay focused and on the same page going forward. Research suggests that a well-connected team can increase productivity by 25 percent. It is essential to have a project management tool or communication app to keep the group supported.

An Opportunity for Growth

There will always be conflict where people are concerned, and the workplace is no exception. If handled correctly, conflict presents a hidden opportunity for teaching and learning. Different opinions can improve innovation if perceived objectively. A clear allocation of responsibilities through project management tools will effectively douse most conflicts before they become thorns.


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