>>Hello I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager.com
>>Welcome to our whiteboard session today on how to manage team conflict. One of the
most difficult things that we as project managers can encounter. It’s really where project
managers go from the hard skills to the soft skills because, in truth, a lot of it is subjective.
I want to give a few pointers that we’ve found along the way and just know that this
topic could be a series. I could literally probably write a thesis on this one topic.
But a few things to point out. The word manage means actually to control, so there’s a
decision point in a project – is this something that I want to stop, or is this something
that I want to fuel? Because there are time we want to stop it when it’s not helpful
and when we want to fuel it when it does become helpful.
So, when do we want to stop? If we’re disrespecting people- whether it’s our team members, or
vendor partners, or stakeholders, or if we’re hindering progress then we need to stop it.
It is helpful when we’re trying to get to a core issue or we’re getting to a better
result. Sometimes to actually fuel that you get a better result. So here are a few pointers
that I’ve found helpful just to get people started.
Number One: As a Project Manager you have to educate yourself because there is so much
written on teams and team conflicts so there are multiple resources you can access. The
best place to start is to Google.
Number Two: Educate your team. Just educating people to let them know that this will occur
and when is very helpful. Let the team know ‘Hey, this is normal. We’re going to encounter
it along the way it’s normal and here are some things or situations when, for instance,
there’s the Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.
So knowing that when a project first forms and kicks off, the team members- no matter
if the people have worked together on a team or not- this is a new project and new variables
are introduced. There’s the forming of the team. There’s the storming when people start
meeting their boundaries so they start storming and maybe conflict arises over certain things.
And then, once the team exits the storming phase, they enter the norming where everything
kind of levels off and then they begin performing as a team again. That’s natural. It’s
been researched for many years and you can find a lot, again, by the Tuckman’s Stages
of Group Development. And then, knowing that different stages of the project can interject
more stress. There are things that occur during the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring,
controlling, and closing of a project. This is the PMI project life cycle.
Just knowing that in the throws of execution where you’ve executed the project and changes
are introduced, things don’t work as planned, maybe the project starts derailing, then stress
is going to occur and usually team conflict. And knowing that there are certain situations
that arise that normally stems conflict. For instance, when you’re recovering a troubled
project or trying to create a new solution where something that’s been tried and true
or has always worked before maybe isn’t working so you have to get together and hash
out things in order to get a new solution. The best thing you can do is create your plan.
By now, knowing yourself that it’s going to occur, educating yourself on new resources
and new ways to approach this, and by educating your team you come up with a plan. They say
in order to control something you’ve got to measure it. What are we measuring? If we’re
measuring something to know if we’re going to stop it or fuel it we have to know certain
things like where are we? Are we in a certain phase of group development? Are we in a certain
stage of the project or are we encountering certain scenarios? Knowing where are we in
these and knowing what typically happens. Knowing typically on this type of project
during this phase this type of conflict arises or I’ve got these teams- I’ve got the
sales and marketing and IT and we always encounter stress or conflict around these areas.
By knowing what typically happens we determine a path. According to history or reasoning
are we going to stop it or are we going to fuel it? Again, we are controlling it, we
stop it or fuel it, and then we communicate to the team. When we’re in the throws of
this and we encounter the conflict or the stress, by saying ‘Okay. Woah. Okay. Here
we are. We’re experiencing team conflict here. We know by what we’ve talked about
that we’re here or here or here. Here’s what’s happening and here’s what we’re
going to do. So it’s part of your plan and you communicate with your team along the way.
Again, we could go into more detail but, for now, these are some simple things just to
get you started.
If you need a tool that can help you know where you are in the project and where your
team conflict may occur, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.