People don’t always agree. When they obviously don’t, we often call it “conflict”. For some people, conflict is always considered “bad”. Somehow, their expectation is that we should never have conflict. Project work is obviously not immune to this kind of disagreement. Some of this conflict or disagreement is beneficial to the Project. Some of it is not.
The Boss Who Can’t be Questioned
You might believe that the days of the powerful boss who is never questioned are long gone. Or that she is just a person whose principles are outdated. The days of command-and-control may seem to be gone, but they aren’t. There are still plenty of folks who are in charge, who know they are in charge, and who believe that being in charge means that they are not to be questioned. This kind of supervisor doesn’t worry too much about conflict. If you disagree, you won’t work with that person for very long. They will try to end the “conflict” by removing the disagreeable person. For them, disagreement (conflict) with them is bad – they view it as undermining their authority. Nothing on the Project changes if they don’t agree with it.
The Project Worker Who Can’t Disagree
Then, there’s the worker who can’t or won’t disagree. They don’t like conflict, and, to them, even disagreement feels like conflict. These folks would almost let something go completely wrong before they would dare disagree with the leader or the group. They view conflict as bad even when they might have a better idea for helping the Project.
The Situation that Invites Disagreement
Project world people will disagree. They will disagree because of personal belief. They will disagree because of experience. They will even fight for a better way. For better results. When two people on the same Project disagree about an idea, it’s conflict. Conflict in this sense can be good. A new idea may be implemented. The plan may be scrapped and you have to start fresh. At a minimum, even when the original plan stays in place, it’s strengthened by the challenge.
Conflict is Good. Conflict is Bad.
Conflict seems like a strong word. It sounds like fighting. It sounds like there’s trouble. But, there may be conflict with co-workers, conflict with suppliers, conflict with managers and leaders, and even conflict with the Customer. Conflict can be bad for your Project when it’s based on a petty issue. Or when it’s about the boss being the boss. But, some conflict is healthy for a Project. Some conflict is good. Conflict that leads to implementing new ideas is good. Conflict that leads to healthy debate is good. Conflict that stands up for beliefs can be good. Fight against bad conflict. Fight for good conflict. You’ll have a better Project.