Conflict is unavoidable in agile teams. It is essential for the agile project manager, scrum master, product owner, delivery lead, tech lead all to have agile conflict management coaching to help resolve conflicts as easily as possible. Conflict should not be avoided but welcomed as conflict can be healthy to air differences and build trust within teams.
As discussed in Creativity Inc where they encouraged candor within the leadership team. It is argued that creative people should feel free to share idea and thoughts and criticisms. Modern Agile key principle is “Make Safety a Prerequisite”.
In agile workplaces we have numerous ceremonies where conflict can arise such as daily stand-up, retrospectives, showcases and estimating. Also, in Agile planning sessions you can see similar conflict that you would expect in traditional project management planning regarding priorities, resources, capacity and dependencies.
At scrum daily standups only the engineering team should be giving updates and all interruptions from the business should be avoided. This is a common area for conflict between the product owner and scrum master. It can even get worst if other business representatives have turned up looking for an update.
At estimation sessions you can expect engineers to argue amongst each other about estimates for the task at hand. This can especially be spicy during planning poker where you have widely different estimate cards being played. The scrum master should help enable conversation between members and ensure every bodies opinion is respected.
Retrospectives is where we want to encourage openness within a safe team space. The retrospective gives agile team members opportunities to discuss process issues, technical decisions and other things that aren’t going well. Following a retrospective template will ensure you are also celebrating wins while openly discussing issues.
5 levels of Conflict Agile Projects
Conflict is always present between stakeholders in any project but there are different conflict levels which require appropiate response. Not all conflict should be treated the same and as a project manger understanding the conflict level. Read more about 5 levels of conflict.
8 Causes of Conflict in Agile Projects
Agile project teams that have people with varying personalities, cultures, and priorities involved, you will find that underlying conflicts will occur on its own. Especially when you consider the concept that projects tend to utilize a system with multiple project managers for execution. Read more about the techniques to Manage Cause of Conflict
21 Techniques to Manage Agile Conflict
- Confronting: Also called problem-solving it is where the problem is confronted not the person, where the problem is dealt with head-on.
- Collaborating: When individuals or teams work with other individuals or teams to solve an issue.
- Compromising: When both parties compromise for the sake of reaching an agreement.
- Smoothing: Problem played down and turns attention on what is important.
- Forcing: Forces the issue to be resolved by whatever is needed, not a great long-term solution as effects team morale.
- Withdrawal: Means avoidance as it is hoped the problem will go away without being dealt with.
To see the remaining 15 techniques read this article on conflict resolution techniques.
4 Types of Organizational Conflict (Levels)
Organizational Level of Conflict is always present in organizations and need to be identified by the project manager to help them manage the stakeholders accordingly. There are 4 types of organizational conflict with different levels as you go deeper into an organization structure between teams and managers. Read more on organizational conflict.
Further Reading on Agile Conflict Management
Conflict Resolvable Techniques for Scrum Team | How to Resolve Conflicts in the Scrum Team (premieragile.com)
5 conflict resolution techniques for agile teams – EasyRetro
Coaching Agile Project Teams – Navigate Conflict (pmi.org)
Scrum Master Stories: Resolving Conflict – Scaled Agile
Modern Agile Conflict | LinkedIn