Other Factors to Keep in Mind
You will have to be respectful of the attitudes and beliefs of others when dealing with conflicts of an ethical or moral nature. For example, a magazine was putting out a special issue and members of the publication staff were being asked to work on the project. At the request of the publisher, however, the special issue was going to have a more erotic theme than the monthly magazine. A seasoned editor felt she could not work on this project because of the nature of the material. The project manager was obligated to carry out the publisher's wishes and could not compromise the content, but reassured her that leaving the project because of her personal views would have no repercussions on her status or position in the company. Ultimately, the editor did some work on another aspect of the project, but did not work on the rest of the material. Conflicts that arise because of beliefs, views, or personal values can only be resolved by respecting other people.
If external factors are involved, you may have to contact sources outside of the project to handle the conflict. This could be a conflict with a particular vendor, a government agency, or a competitor. In these cases, you represent the good of the project team and the project. You want to stand behind your team members as often as possible. Make sure, however, that you have all the facts in such a situation.
If your team member is clearly at fault or if he or she acted in a manner unbefitting the team and the company or organization, you also need to be able to take the high road and go ahead and apologize on behalf of the team. External conflicts brought about by others within the project team are your conflicts, too. It is important that everyone involved in the project represent himself or herself in a manner that best exemplifies the organization or group.
If the conflict is project or issue oriented, work from the perspective of the project and keep personality issues in perspective. If the conflict is people oriented, be careful to make no judgments and focus on what the individuals have in common. Start working from a people-oriented perspective, then refocus everyone back to the project.
Some good things can come from conflicts. Many new ideas come to the forefront because of an initial conflict. Sometimes, positive competition is the result of two parties not getting along initially. Conflicts can serve to present viewpoints that might not have been expressed otherwise, and such clearing of the air can serve as a catharsis of sorts. Finally, conflicts resolved by a project manager can serve to enhance the respect afforded to that manager.