7 Contributors to Conflict

Vivian Scott

Conflict on projects can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Project managers need to understand the common contributors to conflicts to help mediate and resolve them.

Conflict is rarely as simple as it seems on the surface. When you’re dealing with conflict on a project, consider the underlying causes. In Conflict Resolution at Work for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, December 2009), author Vivian Scott says problems are often caused — or exacerbated — by the following:

 

> Ambiguous roles and responsibilities: Being vague with an employee about his job and the tasks associated with his duties creates a situation in which he’s left to decode your expectations. Create clear directives that include who, what, when, where, and why so he doesn’t trip over his co-workers just trying to get his job done.

 

> Assumptions and expectations: Ask open-ended questions to see whether an employee is filling in details based on his past experiences (both on the job and in his personal life) or whether he’s seeing something you’re not.

 

> Core values not being met: Rarely is a disagreement about surface issues. Determine what’s most important to an employee by uncovering his values. Use the insight to help him create long-lasting solutions based on what will satisfy all parties involved.

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- Winston Churchill

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