Project management is a combination of multiple actions, thoughts, and decisions that have to be done by a certain group of people or even one person. There are many challenges project managers have to face with, and the identification and management of conflicts is one of them. By their nature, projects help to generate conflicts that take place between people and project specification or among stakeholders, employees, or other stakeholders. In fact, conflicts are inevitable among people, and it is a kind of a natural outcome that human interactions are characterized by some conflict situations (Rahim, 2010).
The Office 2010 project requires the acceptance of changes; however, not all people are eager to accept the novelties soon. Therefore, it is expected that some conflicts may take place in the project. The current paper aims at identifying and explaining conflicts and their resolutions; it is very important to comprehend how to solve various conflict situations and complete the project in time and within the frames of budget set.
Personal Experiences of Conflict
According to Flannes and Levin (2005), conflicts are the disagreements between two or more entities. It means that usually there are several parties in a conflict, and conflicts may be of different types: between two people, between a group of people, within a group, between a team and stakeholders, between people and nature, and even a kind of interpersonal misunderstandings. Even not being a project manager, it is possible for people to experience a variety of conflicts. Sometimes, people cannot even understand that they become the participants of conflicts, try to solve conflict situation, and follow their instincts to avoid serious problems.
Personally, I do not like the idea of conflict and try to avoid such situation in case I have a chance. I think that there is no necessity to think about the details of managing conflicts if it is possible to predict them and try to avoid.
Conflicts are based on anxiety, and anxiety is harmful to human health. That is why it seems unreasonable for me to get involved in conflicts and ruin personal health. I try to consider the interests and demands of all parties and think about the most appropriate consensus. Besides, I support the idea of open and fair communication as a means to discuss misunderstandings and make clear conclusions. Finally, I think that it is not always possible to achieve the required goals as it is planned. People have to understand their dependence on each other and the environment and get ready to adjust to the situations.
Kerzner (2013) admits that conflicts may occur in any project. In spite of the fact that conflicts are inevitable, it is necessary to remember that almost all of them can be analyzed and resolved. Conflicts may be based on a misunderstanding of team members’ roles or the inabilities to perform the expected duties. Poor communication or weak argumentation may also lead to the development of conflicts. Even inappropriate equipment and facilities may frustrate people and lead to a conflict. Project managers have to understand that they should follow the possible sources of conflicts such as resources, facilities, costs, technical trade-offs, etc. (Kerzner, 2013) and think about the best resolution beforehand. Even if a conflict does not occur, a good manager should be ready for it.
At the same time, conflicts may be regarded as rather a beneficial situation because their outcomes may become the best solutions for a project. People may start discussing and offering their personal opinions. The solution may become the best form that can be applied by a manager. The Office 2010 transition is not an easy project because it is based on personal preferences and the inabilities to accept the change in a short period of time. People have to identify a number of interpersonal conflicts, understand the necessity to deal with the demands of the managers, and comprehend how to explain personal demands.
Conflict resolution is an important part of a good project. Many companies try to develop various policies and procedures to promote conflict resolution. Still, even if there are the standards for conflict resolution, many managers find it appropriate to solve conflict situations in their own ways regarding personal demands and the needs of the team.
To succeed in conflict management, people are able to use the instrument offered by Thomas and Kilmann in 2004. They created the approaches that provided managers with more options and tools to solve conflicts and choose the techniques that are more appropriate. Situations differ by their natures, and project managers should choose the model that can lead to the benefits.
For example, it is possible to avoid the problems and the opinions of some people due to the possibility of weak explanations, poor background knowledge, or unstable professional positions. Another approach is based on competing. If a person believes in the power of the chosen position, it is necessary to introduce more facts and take any possible actions to win. Managers can also use the idea of accommodating with the help of which it is possible to consider some options offered by one party and some options offered by another party. Compromising is the most frequent approach when the parties are able to meet in the middle of their conflict situation without quality decrease.
Finally, Thomas and Kilmann offer to use the approach of collaboration when both parties are equally competent and ready to protect their positions. The negotiated solutions should be made respecting the ideas of both parties.
All these approaches and ideas may vary in different companies because project managers can use their own experience and idea on how to resolve conflicts. Still, these five ways remain to be the best options for people to rely on.
Management of Compromises
The identification of compromises is one of the frequent solutions that are used to resolve conflicts and disagreements that occur in a process. At the same time, project managers should understand that compromises do not solve problems all the time. A compromise is an option to consider, and it has to be managed properly. During the negotiations, all participants of the conflict have to realize that compromise is something that cannot be based on pressure (Rahim, 2010).
It can be achieved in a principled type of negotiation. That is why managing of compromises is not an ideal process with a number of perfect solutions. As a rule, compromises are used to satisfy the needs of both parties. However, it happens that during the discussions, the position of one party is defined as not workable or ineffective, and the position of another party is defined as partially appropriate. The result of such management process is expected: some ideas of both parties are considered, analyzed, and united with a new idea that can be interesting and appropriate for a particular group of people.
In the Office 2010 project, the compromise may be the acceptance of the change with the extension of the deadlines that can be enough for team members. Such solution may be defined as a compromise (because the demands of the manager and the team are considered) and avoidance (because the needs of the team to neglect the change are not taken into account).
In general, conflicts remain to be an integral part of any project because different people may have different demands, preferences, and ideas that cannot be accepted by all members of a team. A project manager should know the theoretical background of conflict, its resolution, and the idea of compromises to understand what kind of work is more preferable and when it is better to make a solution. Conflicts should not be regarded as negative outcomes of communication only.
A conflict and its development may become a chance to analyze the situation and come to the conclusion that can hardly be made without a conflict situation. It happens that sometimes people need a kind of motivation in a form of conflict to make them combine aggression, passion, and desire to prove the chosen position. In such situations, managers, the staff, and stakeholders can evaluate the situation from a new perspective and achieve the results that can be more appropriate and even unexpectedly successful for an organization.
Flannes, S. & Levin, G. (2005). Essential people skills for project managers. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts. Web.
Kerzner, H. (2013). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. New York City, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web.
Rahim, M.A. (2010). Managing conflict in organizations. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers. Web.