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How to deal with conflicts?

The main concern of all project participants (e.g. Scrum: Developer, Scrum Master, Product Owner) should always be to prevent conflicts from occurring. This can be achieved through stakeholder management and by following the rules of the agile frameworks. In Scrum, it must be ensured that meetings and discussions are held and carried out on time. If conflicts have occurred, they must be addressed and resolved as quickly as possible. Basically, everyone involved is responsible for this. If conflicts occur, there are several ways to resolve them:

  1. The people involved discuss the issue
  2. The Scrum Master acts as a mediator
  3. An (external) advisor is brought in
  4. Escalation to a higher level organisational is carried out

In the next step the following checklist can help the Scrum Master to deal with the conflict:

Have I

  • identified the conflict partners correctly?
  • created profiles of the conflict partners?
  • defined the conflict partners in the organisation chart?
  • classified the conflict in the conflict spiral?
  • followed the 10 points of conflict resolution [91]?
  • obtained professional advice (works council, company doctor, company psychologist, mediator, arbitrator, lawyer, line manager, steering committee, etc.)?
  • reported, transferred or escalated the conflict to the proper addressee?

The four-point conflict resolution list below helps you to take a structured approach to dealing with a conflict and to find possible solutions.

  1. Identify the conflict
  2. Address the conflict
  3. Find a solution
  4. Implement the solution

The conflict spiral

How can conflicts occur [92]?

The conflict spiral on the emergence of conflict [92].

The 10-point plan

To resolve conflicts

To resolve conflicts, this procedure can be followed:

  1. Recognize the conflict.
  2. Identify the people involved in the conflict.
  3. Talk about the conflict.
  4. Analyse the conflict.
  5. Visualise the different sides of the conflict.
  6. Categorise the conflict (objective or emotional level?).
  7. Take the conflict from the emotional to the objective level.
  8. Structure the conflict.
  9. Consider, evaluate, select and implement possible solutions.
  10. Take advantage of the conflict to introduce new approaches.