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Member Benefit

Managing Conflict Is a Skill

Published Fri Oct 27 2023

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Conflict resolution skills are essential for project management—and management in general. The notion that managers should solely focus on keeping everyone happy isn’t always right. It’s important to create an environment where conflicts between opposing demands are not only expected but also harnessed to optimize project outcomes. Start by exploring tensions and trade-offs: Projects involve stakeholders with diverse perspectives and priorities. Managers need to facilitate constructive discussions about these differing demands and find the best possible outcomes, considering available resources and risk tolerance. Avoiding these conversations can lead to project delays or suboptimal decisions. Next, establish a productive conflict dynamic. You should promote self-awareness and empathy among team members. An exercise to map the healthy tensions and expectations of different roles can help legitimize each stakeholder’s position, fostering a respectful understanding of contrasting viewpoints. Make sure to solicit dissent and facilitate conflict. Create a safe space for team members to express differing opinions and ensure that unpopular perspectives and contrary facts are considered. This involves actively inviting participants to disagree and addressing concerns and risks. Remember, while productive conflict is essential, not all conflict is healthy. You need to be able to intervene when conflicts escalate into destructive friction. Strategies for managing friction include encouraging equal participation, addressing interruptions, and redirecting disruptive behavior.

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