Virtual Teams – Conflict Resolution – Prepare

Posted on January 19, 2011 by

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Prepare

Preparing the baking pan for project success!

Conflict. The mere term evokes a strong response. In today’s environment, examples of conflict are replete: Middle East, War on Terrorism, Political Divides. Intra personal conflict also appears to be increasing. Project managers also encounter a variety of conflicts: inadequate resources, changing organizational direction, project direction, disagreement among stakeholder groups, clash with functional teams, role conflict, team unity, and missed communication.

The answer to the first question is yes – conflict will occur.

That is not necessarily bad. Consider this. The Latin root of conflict (conflictus) means to “strike together”. Popular connotations are conflict pulls “apart”. Unresolved conflict pulls apart. Properly resolved conflict brings vibrancy to a project.

In 2002 I wrote a series of articles addressing conflict in virtual teams and shared some steps to actively manage conflict using a the acronym PRE-EMPT. 

The first step is to Prepare. Learn from past projects. Historical information is vital (it’s also a part of Organizational Process Assets now, a rather universal Input). Use it. Understanding and learning about past project flows in general and conflicts in particular provide a powerful insight to a current project.

Know your own standing as a project manager. Are you new to project management, new to the organization, or a veteran of several successful campaigns? Regardless of the entry point, it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as how you are perceived by the team, stakeholders and organization. What are the team’s strengths and weaknesses? If the team is newly assembled, then time spent seeking this at the beginning pays dividends.

 

Background

Conflict.  The mere term evokes a strong response.  In today’s environment, examples of conflict are replete: Middle East, War on Terrorism, Political Divides.  Intra personal conflict also appears to be increasing.  An April 3, 2002 CNN / USA Today study found that rudeness is getting worse.  Project managers also encounter a variety of conflicts:  inadequate resources, changing organizational direction, project direction, disagreement among stakeholder groups, clash with functional teams, role conflict, team unity, and missed communication.

This article addresses two questions.  Is conflict inevitable in projects?  If so, how should a project manager resolve conflict?

The answer to the first question is yes – conflict will occur.

That is not necessarily bad.  Consider this.  The Latin root of conflict (conflictus) means to “strike together”.  Popular connotations are conflict pulls “apart”. Unresolved conflict pulls apart.  Properly resolved conflict brings vibrancy to a project.