In the real world, conflict management is messy. It involves lots of interpersonal skills and negotiation. It involves hurt feelings. It might require your political savvy to really address the conflict and determine a manageable solution. The good news is that unlike real-life conflict management, the PMBOK guide addresses the issue in a fairly straightforward way.
Now, that’s not to say that PMBOK doesn’t offer useful techniques when it comes to conflict management. In fact, the way PMBOK describes approaches to team development is a great outline of how you as a project manager can approach issues.
There are five conflict management techniques that you need to know for the PMP exam. Collaborate/Problem Solve is always the best one. If you can, collaborate and problem solve. (You don’t really need to memorize that one — it makes intuitive sense.)
Here are the conflict management techniques for the PMP exam:
- Withdraw/Avoid – This techniques involves ignoring the problem until someone else solves it.
- Smooth/Accommodate – This solution focuses on the area where folks agree and kind of just ignores the places they disagree, in the interest of positive relationships.
- Compromise/Reconcile – Get folks to agree on something so that the conflict is partially resolved.
- Force/Direct – Use your power as the PM to tell your project members what to today.
- Collaborate/Problem Solve – Work together to solve the problem and ensure that the entire team is on board with the solution.
Now which of these stands out as the best one to you? Of course it’s Collaborate/Problem Solve! When presented with a list of conflict management options, this one is always the correct one to choose. I won’t give you a sample question that asks you to pick the best conflict management option for this reason.
However, you and I both know that in the real world, it’s a lot more complicated. That’s why PMBOK offers all of these other options and may test you on applying them.
There’s two main types of conflict management questions you’ll be asked to answer:
- Identify the approach used.
- Recommend a conflict management approach, which is usually Collaborate/Problem Solve.
Conflict Management Sample Q&A
You are the PM, and two of your team members are always arguing. In order to resolve their latest conflict, you help them come to a conclusion that uses a little of both of their ideas. Which conflict management technique have you employed?
D. Collaborate/Problem Solve
Answer: C. Compromise/Reconcile. Since you went with a solution that used both of their ideas, it’s a compromise. Sometimes deciding between Smooth/Accommodate and Compromise/Reconcile can be tricky, so it’s important to do lots of practice questions on this topic.
Any other questions about conflict management on the PMP exam? Ask ‘em below!
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