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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2013
www.aipm.com.au Project Manager 31 JENNY DOESN'T LIKE THE WAY MICHAEL ALWAYS TAKES credit for her work. Pete thinks Bella is way too pushy. Vlad whinges too much, according to Yoko. Everyone is stressed about a seemingly impossible deadline. Interpersonal rivalry, tension and con ict in the workplace are facts of life. And while it might be tempting to br ush aside one or several 'di cult' relationships within your team in the hope that the problem sorts itself out, prolonged periods of unsettled agitation represent real potential to a ect productivity, group morale and, ultimately, the overall success of your project. "People are very di erent across many visible dimensions, such as age and gender, and many invisible dimensions, such as personalities, values, past work experiences and capabilities," explains Isabel Metz, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Melbourne Business School. "It is inevitable, therefore, that members of a project team will sometimes disagree; the high stakes can turn a constr uctive disagreement into a destructive one because of the added pressure. is negative e xperience, in tur n, can cloud people's future judgements of one another's capabilities and personalities, possibly starting a cycle of con ict." Excess workload, reduced resources and constant change can ex acerbate tensions even further. "When individuals are under pressure, their coping abilities are stretched," says Winthrop Professor Sharon Parker from e University of Western Australia Business School. "As such, they might str uggle to control their emotions and be more likely to show anger. In turn, team members on the receiving end, who are also under pressure, might react more negatively than usual because of their ow n lowered resources for coping." Lend a hand Project managers can provide support to a disgruntled or troublemaking member or members of their group in many ways. Metz suggests rewarding team members with occasional days o in recognition of long hours worked and accumulation of stress; brainstor ming and implementing creative ways to achieve goals with fewer resources; or, giving team members opportunities to talk through their negative feelings. "Team members need to understand that everyone will bring di erent skills, approaches and contributions, and that this diversity is valuable," Metz explains. " ere are many Don't fight it Avoiding conflict on a project team or with diverse stakeholders is not always easy, but there are a few ways to turn negativity around, including using conflict in team-building. ADAM CARSWELL CAREER CENTRE WHAT BEGINS AS A CONFLICT CAN LEAD TO BETTER COMMUNICATION, ENHANCED TRUST AND IMPROVED OVERALL PROJECT PERFORMANCE. A TEAM'S DIVERSE APPROACHES TO PROBLEM SOLVING NEED NOT BE NEGATIVE psychometric tools to help team members appreciate other personalities. E orts should be made by the manager to bring out di erent perspectives in a positive way." "Basic good quality management is a good start, such as treating individuals fairly while also recognising their di erences, ensuring co-workers are clear about the contributions they are making, setting up a positive climate of trust and support, and dealing e ectively with poor performance," says Parker. (
Project Manager Apr May 2013
Project Manager Aug Sept 2013