Conflict Resolution in Workplace


ConflictResolution in Workplace




Mr.Brian Luther

March17, 2015

ConflictResolution in Project Management


Conflictis a foreseeable aspect in any workplace. In project management,conflict is generally high as it involves persons from diverseorientations and backgrounds (Alok,Raveendran &amp Shaheen, 2014). Suchindividuals work together with the intention of completing a specifictask. Conflict is defined as an argument or disagreement between twoor more people. It also occurs between teams or groups of people,managers as well as senior executives. Conflict is a competitioncircumstance wherein the involved parties are familiar of futurepositions and which every party desires to occupy (Cahyono&amp Yanki,2012). Such a situation may result in conflict considering thatdifferent people may be interested leading to conflicting wishes. Inproject management, conflict is caused by diversities in attitudes,values, expectations, personalities, as well as needs (Alok,Raveendran &amp Shaheen, 2014). Projectmanagers should possess appropriate skills to enable them deal withconflicts as they occur. Effective conflict resolution is beneficialfor both the employees as well as the organizational in general.Within projects, conflict is manifested in different ways includingdisagreements at the highest management level. At the lowest levels,conflicts occur due to the pressures put by management in attainingset objectives. People must be supported and motivated if suchconflicts are to be minimized. Besides, foreseeing the probability ofconflict occurrence and understanding its determinants enablesproject managers minimize the adverse effects of the same.

Researchshows that when appropriately managed, conflict is healthy for anorganization (Cahyono&amp Yanki,2012). it results in amplified personal growth, improvescommunication increases morale and produces favorable projectresults. On the other hand, poor conflict management may bedetrimental for a project. Project managers and organizationalexecutives are challenged with the issue of sustaining an equilibriumas far as conflicts are involved (Sebastian,2007). Employing the right project management standards, gettingacquainted with conflict dynamics and understanding conflictresolution strategies enables managers to create a good setting whereinnovation and creativity are encouraged. It results in effectiveachievement of project goals and objective. Projectmanagement has become a diverse element that entails management ofpeople from different backgrounds as well as different departmentssuccess in project management is greatly determined by theeffectiveness of conflict resolution methods.The current paper investigates conflict resolution in projectmanagement. In particular it provides an overview of projectmanagement types, causes and approaches to resolving conflictsbenefits/impacts and challenges faced while resolving conflicts.

ProjectManagement Overview

Projectmanagement is defined as the procedure and activity to plan,organize, motivate, and control resources, practices and proceduresto attain certain set goals in everyday issues (Cahyono&amp Yanki,2012). A project is a transient undertaking intended to generateexceptional outcomes. It is constrained by both time and funding. Itmeans that prior to the start of a project a time frame in which itwould commence and conclude is outlined. A budget of funds that wouldbe used for the entire project is also done and presented to thedonor. The purpose of a project is to meet specific set objectivesand goals, generally to add value or generate beneficialmodifications. The management of a project is unique as it differsfrom the normal operations of an enterprise. As a result, projectmanagers are required to develop distinctive management strategiesand technical skills. While managing a project, the key challengeentails attaining the set objectives and goals within the limitedfunding and timeframe (Alok,Raveendran &amp Shaheen, 2014). Thefundamental restraints encompass time, budget, scope and quality(Javits,2013). Thesecondary challenge encompasses optimizing resource allocation andincorporating them in order to meet set goals. The stages of projectmanagement include the following:


Thescope and nature of the ongoing project is determined by commencementprocedures (Javits,2013). Beingthe initial stage, it should be performed in the best way possible toensure project success in meeting the needs of the business.Important measures at this stage encompass becoming familiar with thebusiness setting and ensuring that controls are integrated into theproject (Sebastian,2007). Shortagesmust be reported and proposals formulated to address them. Projectinitiation consists of a plan covering the following domains:

  • Analysis of business requirements in quantifiable goals

  • Assessment of the present business undertakings

  • Stakeholder analysis, encompassing project personnel and users

  • Financial analysis, encompassing benefits, costs and a budget and

  • Project charter, encompassing tasks, schedules, deliverables and costs (Javits, 2013).


Projectplanning follows the initiation stage. It involves planning variousaspects of the project including resources, time and costs involved(Sebastian,2007). Planningallows the estimation of work required and effective risk managementduring implementation of the project. Project planning comprises:

  • Determination of the planning process (for instance, through rolling wave)

  • Development of the statement of scope

  • Choosing the planning team

  • Identification of deliverables as well as generating work breakdown framework

  • Identification of the required activities to complete the deliverables

  • Resource estimation

  • Cost and time estimation

  • Schedule development

  • Budget development

  • Risk planning

  • Obtaining official authorization to start the project (Sebastian, 2007).

Otherprocesses encompass communication planning, identification of dutiesand scope management is fundamental.


Theexecution stage comprises the procedures necessary to complete theactivities outlined in planning. It aims at achieving therequirements of the project.

Monitoringand Controlling

Projectmonitoring and control comprises the procedures carried out tocontrol and examine the execution of a project. During this stage,the possible predicaments are recognized in a well-timed manner andproposals put forth to address them (Sebastian,2007). Monitoring and control are beneficial in that performance isscrutinized and measured in a regular manner to discover variances.The stage encompasses the following:

  • Measurement of the continuing project activities

  • Monitoring different variables including scope and cost against performance baseline and management and

  • Identification of remedial actions to deal with predicaments and risks in an appropriate way (Sebastian, 2007).

ProjectCloses Down

Closingdown of the project is the final stage. It involves official projectapproval and eventual ending (Sebastian,2007). Itincludes various administrative activities encompassing documentationof files as well as lessons learn throughout the project. The stagecomprises contract and project closure. Contract closure entailscompleting, settling and closing down all the contracts. Projectclosure entails finalizing the entire activities involved during theproject phase.

UnderstandingConflict in Project ManagementTypesof conflict

Asin any other work environment, project management experiences variousconflicts between individuals, managers or team members. The initialtype of conflict is interpersonal conflict. It occurs between twopersons, and in this case, personnel in project management (Sinha,2011).Interpersonal conflict arises due to the diversities betweenindividuals. Every person has an exceptional personality that leadsto mismatched ideas as well as choices. This type of conflict that isinstigated by natural factors assists in individual growth whileenhancing associations with other people (Cahyono,&amp Yanki, 2012).Adjustments are important for managing interpersonal conflicts, butin severe cases, a mediator should be involved.

Thesecond type of conflict is intragroup conflict. It takes placeamongst persons in a single team. It is caused by misunderstandings,disagreements and incompatibilities among team members (Singleton,et al., 2011). Differencesin ideas and perceptions that arise during presentation and otheractivities also result in conflict. Conflict may be beneficial anddetrimental in a team. On one hand, it assists in making appropriatedecisions that help team members meet the set objectives. On theother hand, severe conflicts in which team members fail to come upwith a single decision interrupts harmony. In this case, a mediatoris required to help in settling or resolving the conflict at hand.

Intergroupconflicts occur between two or more teams in an organization (Sinha,2011).It is caused by misunderstandings and disagreements between teams. Inproject management, different teams are involved in carrying outdifferent activities to enable the completion of a project. Conflictsarise as a result of diverse interests and goals of different teams.Besides, competitions result in intergroup conflicts. Other causesencompass competition of resources or crossing the boundaries set bya specific team.

Causesof Conflict

Conflictsare caused by a wide range of factors. Such causes are similar inacross all organizations. For instance, when a project managerportrays poor leadership, conflict may arise. Managers are supposedto guide their subordinates in the best way possible. However,failure to use appropriate leadership skills results in differingopinions and disagreements between individuals and teams (Cahyono,&amp Yanki, 2012). Whenthe lower-level personnel realize that their project manager isleading them off track, they may attempt to come with their ownopinions in order to reach their group objectives.

Ambiguityof responsibilities results in conflicts (Singleton,et al., 2011). Inproject management, planning of activities should be carried out andallocated to individuals and teams. However, a situation in which noclear responsibilities have been set may result in conflicting ideasbetween team members as well as their supervisors. For instance, thesupervisor may expect his team to meet certain objectives, but theteam may fail to do so as there are not sure of what they aresupposed to do.

Poorcommunication leads to conflicts. It has been evidenced thatcommunication is key in project management (Sinha,2011).It enables project managers to communicate the required objectives tothe teams and the eventual accomplishment of the same. It alsoenables team members to share ideas and opinions thus, settling onthe most appropriate ones. Nevertheless, where poor communicationexists, it is impossible to understand the required objectives whilefailure of team members to communicate their opinions means that nodecision would be reached.

Differentpersonalities between individuals give rise to conflicts. Certainlyhuman beings are distinctive, with different personalities,expectations, attitudes and characteristics. It implies that theypossess different ideas and opinions and the manner of presentationto the team members is also different. Such differences differ fromone individual to the other and conflicts may arise when individualsfeel their differences are not considered. Other causes encompasshuman emotions, task interdependency, prospect of modification anddifferent expertise (Sebastian,2007).

Approachesto Conflict Resolution

Usingappropriate approaches to resolve conflicts results is paramount.There are various approaches used to resolve conflicts as explainedherein.

Identificationof the Conflict Domain

Identifyingthe domain of the conflict allows the mediator to understand theinvolved parties (Cahyono,&amp Yanki, 2012).It also helps in understanding the causes of the conflict. It is theinitial step therefore, the mediators should be extremely careful toallow a smooth process of conflict resolution.

Generationof Conflict Cases

Inthis approach the mediator should involved the different partiesinvolved in the conflict. Doing this provides a greater understandingregarding the situation. Encouraging the disputants to be open enoughwhile providing the information is paramount. The mediator shouldshow impartiality (Singleton,et al., 2011).

Exerciseof Judgment

Afterobtaining the necessary information, the mediators should exercisejudgment. Listening to the disputants enables the mediators tounderstand various aspects that are used to judge and come up with apossible solution.

Analysisof the Results

Resultsfrom the different views provided by the disputants should beanalyzed by the mediators. Result analysis involves such aspects asthe causes of the conflict and what each party thinks about thesituation.

Communicationof the Judgment Differences (Cognitive Feedback)

Themediators should discuss among themselves their different judgmentsin order to come up with a single decision. This is so consideringthat every mediator would have different understanding of thesituation, thus come up with a different judgment.

Negotiationamong Conflicting Parties

Lastly,the mediators should discuss their judgment to the disputants in themost appropriate way. The step involves attempting to solve theissues between the parties in order to generate good relationship(Cahyono,&amp Yanki, 2012).

Benefits/Impactof Conflict Resolution To Workers And The Organization

Conflictsmay both be beneficial and detrimental both to workers and theorganization in general. Addressing and managing conflicts in anefficient manner results in success and increased profitability.Bonds between employees and top-level management are strengthenedresulting in increased output (Javits,2013). Resolutionacts as a way of motivating workers and improved employeerelationships. Conflicts act as opportunity for growth in anorganization.

Anotherbenefit is improvement in communication between workers (Sinha,2011). They are able to communicate their ideas and opinions with anyapprehension. Ability of the leaders to resolve conflicts in aneffective way strengthens their leadership. In turn, they obtain morerespects from the workers. Such a working environment results inincreased productivity as everyone feel more motivated to perform.Another benefit is enhancement in collaboration between teams. Trustincreases between members and the management, freedom of proposingand sharing ideas amplifies and brainstorming solutions. It alsopromotes a congenial working environment.

Challengesin Conflict Resolution within Project Management

Whileresolving conflicts, project managers, mediators and other involvedparties face various challenges. The initial challenge is the abilityto facilitate the process in an effective way (Singleton,et al., 2011). Leadersand managers must possess various skills, failure to which may onlyaggravate the problem. Ability of showing objectivity andimpartiality may be a challenge considering that mediators, who aregenerally the top-level managers, are stakeholders in theorganization. It implies that they have to be involved in resolvingconflicts which arise between their subordinates. While resolvingconflicts, tactics or groups (spoilers) may exist and impede orweaken the process (Cahyono,&amp Yanki, 2012).Such people possess spoiling behavior that is not favorable inresolving conflicts.


Conflictresolution in project management is important to ensure success of aproject. Conflicts are foreseeable and therefore, leaders shouldalways be ready to deal with them. As evidenced in the paper,conflicts are caused by various factors including poor communication,poor leadership, differences in personalities and ambiguity ofresponsibilities among others. The types of conflicts which exist inproject management are interpersonal, intragroup and intergroup.Using appropriate approaches to resolve conflicts leads to benefitsboth to employees and organization in general. Leaders should alsounderstand the underlying challenges in conflict resolution to ensureeffectiveness. In a nutshell, conflicts are important in projectmanagement, but they should be resolved effectively to eliminatetheir detrimental impacts.


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