Resource Index > People Management > Conflict and Issue Management

Conflict and Issue Management

Stress and "people problems" are often cited as causes of conflicts within projects. As the pace of development increases and product cycle times decrease, stress can mount to the breaking point and personalities can clash. In addition, perfectly reasonable structural and procedural issues can cause conflicts between stakeholders, scheduling conflicts, and force teams to choose between conflicting requirements. Conflict management is more than just refereeing fights. It's balancing all these competing interests and requirements to deliver a working product that satisfies the customer.

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Examples of Conflict Management and Issue Management in Action

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  • Story Prioritization at the "Blink" of an Eye
    It was late July and I was sitting through yet another agonizing prioritization meeting. The sounds of debating product stakeholders filled the air, each weighing in on his or her pet feature's relative merit, desperately trying to inch it toward the beginning of the development queue.
  • The mighty and destructive power of forgotten stakeholders
    This blog is an ode to the undetected project stakeholder who might just blow up your project when you least expect it. I know because it happened to me. Here's the story, what I learned, and what I'm doing now at work to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  • Handling team angst in the fuzzy front end
    Picture a team facing a huge tangle of an absolute MESS, feeling pretty helpless as they look at the pile and wonder where the heck to start and what will become of them as they wrestle with that mess.
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  • High-Speed Conflict and Scope Creep
    This case study explores an "extreme" project conducted in a strained atmosphere, where a dysfunctional team still managed to correct a critical business issue in just nine days.
  • Speaking Truth to Power: Leading from the middle to correct a troubled architecture
    This case study details how one project manager managed the impossible by creating a compelling picture of the urgent issues, a definite plan to address them, and a clear vision of the final results.
  • A User's Guide to Working With Me
    This quick chart helps team members communicate their most effective modes of work, including hot buttons, trust-builders, the best ways to raise and resolve conflicts, and more.
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  • Software Test Transfer Forms
    Practical forms to accompany a software build when Development sends it Testing, to serve as a record of what is being transferred, testing instructions, and ultimately a record of what was tested and the results.
  • Issue Resolution Status Report
    Format for reporting progress on work to resolve one or more open issues (e.g. project or technical issues).
  • Project Alternatives Tradeoff Table
    Use this template to cut through all the complex decisions that can plague the front end of a project. The table gives your team a concise way to document (and communicate!) the alternatives you are considering for scope and features, and the impact of various combinations on the project's cost, schedule, resources, and risk.


  • What is conflict and issue management?
Guidelines and Suggestions for Conflict & Issue Management
What are the root-causes of conflict within project teams and how can these root causes be mitigated. What are the structural project process problems that can cause conflict, and how can they be identified, captured, and resolved?

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For Members
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  • Project Escalation Process Guidelines
    Scope issues, major tradeoff decisions, and serious resource conflicts are all examples of situations that can require escalation to higher management.
  • PRE-EMPT CONFLICT: How to Actively Prepare for, Engage and Overcome Project Conflict
    This paper provides conflict-resolution strategies for project leaders who want to actively avoid the minefield, instead of just figuring out how to navigate it.
  • The Impact of Personality Types on Team Interactions
    A guideline explaining how an understanding of the "personality types" of your team members can be useful for avoiding conflict and promoting effective collaboration among your team members, who may differ in the way they perceive and organize information, communicate, and make decisions.
  • Project Flexibility Matrix
    A simple but effective tool that helps guide tradeoff discussions on Scope, Resources and Schedule.
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  • Establishing Ground Rules for Issue Escalation
    This worksheet guides your team through the important step of setting ground rules for initial communication of issues with your sponsor and team members.
  • User Impact Assessment
    Even apparently simple IT projects can open a Pandora's Box of user concerns, questions, and frustrations caused by overlooked impacts. This template guides the team through an assessment of the user impacts of technology changes, to enable better planning and communication and a smoother deployment experience for everyone.
  • Speaking Up: How to Make Your Case
    This guideline can help you make your case more effectively when you see ways your team could improve the project or work together better.
  • Brainstorming Meeting Techniques
    Guidelines for facilitating a brainstorming session, covering several types of brainstorming, detailed guidelines for starting off effectively, and pitfalls to watch out for.
  • Problem-Solving Tools and Techniques
    Six different problem-solving tools help you do everything from determining root causes to assessing possible solutions, and outline a basic problem-solving strategy so you can be sure you've covered all the bases.

    How can I get team members to agree on the right tradeoffs?
Other Options
  • Visit our booklist for references on conflict and issue management
  • Speaking Up! Influence Skills for Getting What You Need
    A mini-course by DeAnna Burghart - $24.95
    Bolster your confidence and develop the most effective case possible in every venue available to you using the skills in this short course. By learning what motivates people to help and how to build an effective and succinct case, you can make the most of your time with team members, stakeholder conversations, customer advocacy, sponsor reports, and executive interventions. Learn how to speak up effectively, or brush up your current skills, and start making a difference.
Typical Conflict Management Issues and Answers to Common Questions

For Guests
These resources are available to everyone, no login required.
  • Rescuing Troubled Projects: The Formal Method
    Instead of viewing this situation as another layer of inheritance and more work, you can turn the situation into an opportunity to show your organization and customers the power of applying sound PM methodologies.
  • Rescuing Troubled Projects: The Informal Method
    Nine tips for rescuing a failing project without burning bridges.
  • Dancing with the Stars
    Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, describes one manifestation of trouble on a team as avoidance of accountability. Many would readily recognize this dysfunction as finger-pointing or placing blame elsewhere. A telltale sign that there are accountability issues on your project team is when you hear the familiar and irritating pitch of whining.
  • When a team member doesn't do what they're supposed to do: A "Choose Your Own" Adventure
    Project Manager Brent has just thrown his hands in the air in disgust and is ready to throw in the towel. Team Member Stacy didn't come through. Again. She's just not doing what she's supposed to do, and Brent has had enough.
For Members
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  • Getting Relevant to Get Results
    Insights on managing conflict between management and technical contributors.
  • Rescuing and Revitalizing the Problem Project
    Have you ever wished you could just start over? Sometimes that's exactly what a troubled project calls for. This paper outlines how to get a panicked project team to stop, take a deep breath, analyze what has gone wrong and how to get it right again, and re-launch your disaster project with new, actually attainable goals.
For Subscribers
These resources are for Premium subscribers. Subscribe to get access, or find out more about our free trial for new subscribers.
Other Options
  • Visit our booklist for references on conflict and issue management
  • Communicating Up the Chain to Resolve Big Issues
    A mini-course by DeAnna Burghart - $24.95
    This course explains the importance of issue escalation processes and the many ways they can help your team, beyond just faster issue resolution. You'll avoid project sinkholes, and your customers will be in the loop on all the important issues, without people hitting the panic button unnecessarily.



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