Carl, a project manager in a publishing company, was placed in charge of a multi-departmental team directed to work with a software company to develop an interactive book/software product targeted for the special needs market. Both the publishing and software companies had recently undergone significant layoffs, and one of the objectives of the joint project was as a means of developing greater viability for both organizations.
Aware that team members from both companies were still stunned from the recent layoffs, Carl considered what he could do to address these sensitivities. Carl wanted to help team members remain positive and motivated.
Therefore, during the first several project team meetings, Carl minimized conflicts between the team members from the two companies. Disagreements over the technological requirements were never clarified, nor were the disputes among team members regarding roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships. Carl believed that these issues would clear themselves up over time. His concern was to avoid conflict at all costs.
During the project planning phase, both the team participants and the sponsors noticed that core priorities had not been established and that key commitments had not been obtained from senior managers. Additionally, the extent of teamwork was minimal because the early personal clashes over roles, style, and status had not been addressed.
Clearly, Carl’s methods were not working. What would have been a better approach?
What type of project leader do you think is most likely to avoid active conflict resolution?
While avoidance can cause problems, prioritizing conflicts is also important. Explain the meaning of this statement.
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