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What Kids Can Teach Us about Conflict Management

Kids can be unlikely but invaluable sources of insight into the mechanics of human nature, including what it means to handle human conflicts and human relationships. It is this brand of wisdom that Emanuele Passera shares in a post at his blog Project Management Crumbs.

Team Formation

Team formation can be part of the project development cycle. First there’s the forming and storming phase. That’s the phase where everyone on the team gets to know each other and is where confrontations often take place. What you will want, ideally, as a project manager is to see the transition move to the norming and performing stage – that’s where the true productivity lies. But before you get there, take a quick lesson from a couple of scrappy young boys, one age six, the other age three.

Playing “Parent” for Your Team

Whenever Passera tried to extinguish the conflicts that inevitably arose between his two sons (over a toy car, an imaginary role, etc.), there was always a lingering anger that remained, waiting to erupt over some new issue. That’s the very same phenomenon you’re likely to encounter with team conflicts at work. If you’re too quick to defuse an issue that arises, too eager to smother the slightest flame of anger that arises between coworkers, then you’re only stocking dry timber for a much larger blaze in the future:

The kids ceased quarrelling or fighting, but you could sense that the conflict was not solved at all. You could feel that the fire was hidden under the ashes, ready to burn out again.

What Passera found was that allowing his sons to enter the conflict and hash things out helped them to learn about each other, to test their limits, so to speak. What he doesn’t advocate is permitting complete anarchy to unfold across your team. Instead, when you see a conflict brewing, prepare to act as a moderator. Let them draw their own conclusions and forge their own compromises. In this way, you’ll set the stage for a much more productive team dynamic to unfold.

Read the original article at: http://pmcrumbs.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-my-sons-taught-me-about-conflicts.html

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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