IS TEAM CONFLICT KILLING YOUR PROJECT?
Nothing like traveling to an offsite project kick off meeting to watch the project stop before it even started.
Early in management consulting I was faced with a challenging team conflict right at the top of the project team. This global, company-wide, multi-million-dollar project impacted all employees, so the project team was led by a Senior Vice President representing the “people side” of the solution, and another Senior Vice President representing the “technical side” of the solution. As the team came together in one of the first all-team meetings, it quickly became apparent the leaders were in two camps:
the people person was excited about a flashy solution interesting to the end user
the technical lead wanted a smooth and efficient solution with little coding
While this is not a unique situation, how they handled the conflict spoke volumes on how these leaders were embedded in their communication skills and conflict styles. The people person wrangled up any team members who would listen in the stuffy hotel hallway complained that the technical lead was not a team player and had a short-sighted vision. Meanwhile the technical lead gathered up his closest technical team members behind closed doors of the now-empty meeting room and outlined how the people person’s approach was all icing and no cake (software platform) to build upon.
The two days onsite concluded with these two leaders NEVER meeting to discuss their differences, their concerns, or their approaches. With their differing styles of communication and conflict management, the team members left more confused than when they arrived. Thousands of dollars spent on travel, lodging, meals, meeting space and more, yet the project still wasn’t launched.
How did everything get resolved? The team held a 30+ person conference call a week later (a painful experience to listen to) open to much misinterpretation. Should this have been sorted out while everyone was together? Most definitely. Why wasn’t it? The two leaders didn’t know how to start that conversation.
Want to learn how to avoid this scenario and confidently start those challenging projects? Contact me to learn a first step to move those early project team days forward.