The Conflict Resolution Techniques Every Project Manager Should Know

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There are a few useful and effective conflict resolution techniques that every project manager should know. This will help them to fulfill their varied responsibilities that include initiating, planning, monitoring, and controlling a project particularly in that specific order right from the start to its finish. 

Basically, the job of a project manager is to manage everything that is associated with the project. However, this is not an easy task as over 20% of your time is ‘wasted’ in managing conflicts between different players in the project.

Conflicts may arise due to several reasons such as poor communication between people as well as unfair employee tendencies. Sometimes people may even want to fight for no specific reason especially when there are multiple people involved in a project. 

Conflict typically seeps into the bottom line of the company. Whether it is due to calling someone names or protecting the turf or for sulking responsibilities, these hours lost are not productive and not spent on working. According to a study, more than $359 billion in paid hours are lost due to conflicts. 

The ways to resolution

Therefore, resolving conflicts using the best conflict resolution techniques is very important for any project manager. This will help in maintaining a healthy work environment and get the project done within the predetermined budget and timeframe.

  • Avoid It: If the conflict is minor it is best not to get involved in it. In most of the times small conflicts are resolved by itself if you withdraw and avoid it. Simply let the people involved know that you are well aware of the conflict and wish it is resolved amongst them. It will save time and hassle and most importantly you will avoid picking a favorite that may hurt the morale of the other person.
  • Smoothing: If you want a faster resolve or compromise, this is the technique to follow. In this technique you create a quick solution that is mutually acceptable. The key here is to maintain cool and act as if nothing serious has happened, even it has. This will help you to avoid a further and probably a more destructive negotiation. However, do not let the people involved to take advantage of your generosity.
  • Compromise: This is a technique when you delve deeper into the issues. It involves more than smoothing. You must listen to both the sides involved in a conflict, take suggestion from them and in the end try to find a middle ground that will satisfy most of the needs of both the parties. Just make sure that both the sides win something in the short term at least. This process will build groundwork for collaboration among the people and you will earn a good reputation as well.
  • Problem solving: Used when the two parties involved are exceptionally influential, this technique will require getting to the root of the issue, considering multiple viewpoints and finding a long term solution to satisfy the need of both. It is actually a win-win approach.
  • Forcing: Also known as the ‘Heavy Hand’ conflict resolution technique, you are actually the ‘boss’ here. This principle is followed when there is no other alternative but to tackle things with authority and forcefully. In this process you lay down the ‘law’ by picking a side. While picking a side use your best judgment so as to find which of the two sides have better merits and reasoning. However, keep this as your last resort when all other techniques for conflict resolution have failed and you need to establish your authority with a speedy resolution, but expect backlash and a negative effect on relationship with the losing party.

Consider the time and place and choose the best technique according to it.

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