Conflict is as inevitable in a project environment as change seems to be. When project team members interact during the course of completing their tasks and responsibilities, there is always a potential for conflict. In fact, it is virtually impossible for people with diverse background skills and norms to work together; make decisions, and try to meet project goals and objectives without conflict. “Project managers must identify, analyze, and evaluate both positive and negative values of conflict and their effect on performance.” (Dixon). They must learn how and when to stimulate conflict and how to use it to increase the performance of project team members. Conflict need not have destructive consequences. Attitudes and conflict management styles play an important role in determining whether such conflict will lead to destructive or mutually beneficial outcomes.
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“This negative view of conflict played a role in the development of labor unions.” (Dixon) Violent or disruptive confrontations between workers and management led people to conclude that conflict was always detrimental and should therefore be avoided. The most common types of conflicts in the work place are interpersonal conflicts but there are also others. ”Goal-oriented conflicts are associated with end results, performance specifications and criteria, priorities, and objectives. Administrative conflicts refer to the management structure and philosophy and are mainly based on definition of roles and reporting relationships and on responsibilities and authority for tasks, functions, and decisions. Interpersonal conflicts result may differ from how people work their ethics, styles, egos, and personalities of the participants.” (Dixon) Interpersonal conflict resolution techniques are based on the recognition that the choice of a conflict management strategy depends on the intensity of the conflict and the relative importance people place on maintaining good relationships versus achieving goals. I believe that in the end we all need to be able to conclude any conflict we may have in order to achieve the goals set out in front of us.
Conflict can be healthy if it is managed effectively. Conflict management requires a combination of many different skills. Every project manager or even employees should learn to resolve conflicts effectively. Good conflict managers work at the source of conflict. To resolve it permanently, they must address the cause of the conflict and not just the symptoms of it. They need to size up the possible issues at hand before contact is actually made and then prepare their action plans to handle potential trouble. They should concentrate on building an atmosphere designed to reduce destructive conflict and deal with routine frictions and minor differences before they become unmanageable.
Dixon, W. J. (2006). Third-party Techniques For Preventing Conflict Escalation And Promoting Peaceful Settlement. International Organization, 50(04), 653.