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List/Describe 5 Ways Project Managers Can Resolve Conflict

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 25th November 2015

Actions project manager can take to resolve conflict are:
  1. Avoiding the conflict.
  2. Accommodating.
  3. Competing.
  4. Collaborating
  5.  Compromising
1-Avoiding conflict means ignoring the conflict or intentionally paying no attention to it. The PM is neither assertive or cooperative with the other person. It is one action that PM can take to deal with unimportant matters that will not have impact on the work progress. That is useful as PM avoids unnecessary clashes that will not add benefits to any party. For example, PM avoided conflict with staff member who went on medical appointment without permission during non-rush period in the project. It is trivial and it’s best to move on to more important topics.
2-Accommodating conflict means showing high levels of cooperation with others and low levels of assertiveness. PM can take that action when they realise that they have made a mistake and the the other party is on the right one. That action may calm down the other party and lead them to show some understanding. For example, PM can accommodate the conflict with the client while discussing delays in the work progress. This will defuse the conflict between the two people and let the project progress. 
3- Competing means being insisting and showing high levels of assertiveness and least cooperation. PM can take that action when he knows that they are on the right side and insists on getting what he wants regardless what the other party’s opinions are. That action allows PM to insist on following the regulations or other legislative requirements. For example, PM would the right to insisted on following the health and safety regulation during site visit and did not allow his surveyor to enter confined space without gas monitor device.
4-Collaborating means showing high levels of both cooperation and assertiveness which are interchanged during the same negotiation. PM can take that action when he and the other party are both aiming to reach best solutions. That action allows both parties to reach what is known as win-win situation. For example, PM can follow that approach while discussing optimised design (which is aesthetic, practical, and not expensive) with a client. However such collaboration may take a significant investment in time and effort, so is only relevant to important areas of conflict such as the design. 
5-Compromising means showing medium levels of cooperation and medium levels of assertiveness. PM can take that action when they are  getting into a long debate with the other party where neither of the two parties will be getting out as a complete winner. Compromising enables PM to gain some benefits against some losses. For example, PM may compromise during final payments negations and variation orders claims.  This could be considered as a lose-lose outcome made to expedite the project.