Experience is the mother of wisdom. Project management is filled with opportunities for growth. A project manager must always be willing to learn new skills and be willing to grow with the company. However, some lessons cannot be taught. They can only be learned from experience.
For example, a project manager may be allocated a team that does not agree on the best way to achieve certain aspects of the project. The team may debate recommendations, timelines, resources, and each other. In fact, they may disagree so often that the upcoming milestone or deadline is potentially impacted. What is the best way to handle this?
Conflict is a constant presence in life. Managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a project manager faces. In order to ensure the project remains on time and within budget, a project manager would have to practice conflict resolution.
Some things to implement to prevent conflict would be the following:
- Communicate clearly.
- Address problems as they come up.
- Ask a lot of questions and check in with the team.
- Build and manage a clear project schedule.
- Learn to listen to the concerns and thoughts of the team members.
- Troubleshoot the problems and address them as they come up to get the team focused and unified to deliver on time and within scope.
Compromise is a popular way to solve conflict on projects. If each team member can get their interests satisfied to some degree, this can result in a successful outcome. Finding out what the disagreements are and compromising to find common ground can resolve the problem. Acknowledge. Listen. Compromise. Reward. Maintain the highest level of integrity.
A few rules I live by are as simple as the Four Agreements, a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. They are the following:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
My father always told me to me to handle situations with the utmost professionalism. Apply the techniques of conflict resolution discussed above. Keep in mind that your main objective is completing the project within budget, within scope and on time. Focus on the tasks at hand. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of decisions. Take a moment to step away and regroup if necessary. Look at the other person with compassion, peace and tolerance. Keep your eyes on the prize! And always remember, everything changes. Change is the only constant.