One of the most challenging tasks that a Project Manager needs to handle in most of the projects is conflict resolution. Conflict could be defined as some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the opinions or actions of one of more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Differing needs are often the main cause for conflicts in projects. Such conflicts in projects if not managed properly, may lead to bitter disputes resulting in failure of contracts, loss of profit, loss of valuable resources etc. An effective Project Manager recognizes legitimacy of conflicting needs and proactively engages in examining its causes and resolves them through creative problem solving and team building.
Project Management is an organized approach in getting things done with in a limited time, cost and resources. The main focus of a Project Manager shall be to deliver the project objectives in the most efficient manner by balancing the project constraints. A project shall involve several stakeholders with varying interest and expectations in the outcome of the project. An effective Project Manager is one who successfully delivers the project objectives and gain maximum mutual benefits to all the stakeholders. As the occurrence of conflicts in project are quite normal, it is very important for the Project Manager to be competent to manage these conflicts and adopt the best of the conflict resolution strategy which suits the situation.
Problem solving or Win-Win approach of conflict resolution is one of the most effective methods of conflict resolution which can be practiced by the Project Managers. This approach, also known as the confrontation, involves collaboration of the conflicting parties to reach an agreement which satisfies both the parties. This approach is most suitable for projects which involve a very important client with whom the business relation is strategic for the existence of the company. Adopting a win-win approach is by no means makes a Project Manager seem to be Mr. Nice who surrenders as soon as any conflict arises. In the case of a Win-win solution, both the parties emerge out of the conflict satisfied with agreement and may involve sacrifices and mutual gains. A Project Manager may adopt this method if the issue of conflict is absolutely critical to the success of the project and he have to invest heavily in terms of time, effort and cost.
The willingness of the conflicting parties to cooperate for a win-win solution is a key factor for the Project Manager to decide on adopting this approach. Win-win outcome for a conflict resolution could be achieved only if the issue is handled with an open mind and in a mature manner. Care should be taken to avoid any personal criticism and blame games. All parties involved should encourage and accept out of the box ideas which could lead to a mutually beneficial solution. The commitment of the conflicting parties to implement the win-win solution, devised through their collaborative efforts, is very important for the success of the project and therefore the Project Manager should take all necessary actions to ensure the same.
The collaborative win-win approach has emerged as the most preferred and widely accepted conflict resolution technique due to the advantages it presents towards ensuring the success of the projects. Win-win solutions not only results in the growth of knowledge and respect between the stakeholders but also leads the way for innovative approaches which could enhance the productivity and produce better project outcomes. Therefore it is advisable for the Project Managers to investigate the feasibility of a win-win solution in the case of any conflict situations that arises in the project and should strive to achieve it in the most effective manner by ensuring wholehearted collaborative efforts from the respective stakeholders.