suppress conflict, as it can be beneficial. It provides an opportunity to gain new information,
consider alternatives, develop better solutions to problems, enhance team building, and learn. As
part of the team-building process, the project manager and project team need to openly
acknowledge that disagreement is bound to occur during the performance of the project and reach
a consensus on how it should be handled. Such a discussion needs to take place at the beginning of
the project, not when the first situation occurs or after there has been an emotional outburst. It
should be addressed at the project kickoff meeting.
The following sections discuss the sources of conflict on a project and approaches to handling
Sources of Conflict
During a project, conflict can emerge from a variety of situations. It can involve members of the
project team, the project manager, the customer, and other stakeholders. Here are eight sources of
potential conflict on projects.
Conflict can arise from differences of opinion about how much work should be done, how the
work should be done, or at what level of quality the work should be done. Take the following
In a project to develop an order-tracking system, one team member thinks that bar coding
technology should be used, whereas another individual thinks that keypad data entry stations
should be used. This is a conflict over the technical approach to the job.
In a community festival project, one team member thinks that mailing an advertisement
about the festival to each household in the town is sufficient, whereas another thinks that the
mailing should be sent to all residents in the county, advertisements should be placed in
newspapers, and a website established. This is a conflict over how much work should be included.