Sep 062011

Any project can run through a tough deadline (crisis) when project team has to work long hours and sacrifice holidays and weekends. Following actions can make those long hours less painful and more productive:On the deadline

  1. Communicate the crisis and include team to solve crisis. Every team member should be aware of the crisis that project is running through and what is the impact on project. The communication should not be a threat to team rather should try to win team’s support. Team should work to collectively win.
  2. Provide basic amenities to project team. Basic amenities include food, AC/Heating, seating arrangement, transportation, phone, security etc. Team should not struggle for basic amenities else they will lose focus.
  3. Let team work. Supervisors should not take over team member’s task because doing so will cause
    • Team will be motivated only if team performs its task. Taking away its task will only cause de-motivation
    • Snatching work puts team and supervisor in competitive spirit rather than collaborative spirit
    • Supervisors lose oversight and that may aggravate the crisis

    Helping team member perform one’s task is ok as long as that does not become micro-management or snatching of team member’s work.

  4. Keep the SMEs available or on standby. In crisis situation, SMEs may be urgently required any time. Furthermore, they may help alleviate the crisis.
  5. Be available. In crisis it is best for a Project Manager to be available for any eventuality. Virtual availability is equally effective.
  6. Relax some office rules such as dress code if possible.
  7. Be truthful. Telling a deadline tomorrow and not reviewing first draft today is a mistake that will cost credibility.
  8. Keep the mood cheerful. Following above points and understanding individual’s perspective and pain may keep the atmosphere light. Furthermore, communicate to team to take appropriate break to reduce burnout.
  9. Appreciate the effort of those who helped project come out crisis. You may reward team appropriately as per individual’s aspiration – compensatory off, desired role, certification/higher education approval etc. However, think with a grain of salt about those who intently brought the crisis to get appreciation by working overtime.
  10. Analyze what had gone wrong, capture that information in lessons learnt and try not to repeat such mistakes in future.
Would you like to share your experience on the actions that you or your manager took to alleviate crisis situation? How did those actions impact the outcome of your project?

  2 Responses to “10 Actions for a Project in Crisis”

  1. You may also need to motivate the team. Motivation can be by formal power or reward/punishment power.

    • I agree team needs to be motivated. Some of the factors that I have given are hygiene factors such as provide basic amenities, keep the moodful cheerful, no micro-management etc. Appreciate the effort is one that can be motivating. If you have appreciated the effort once then that’s a motivation for next time also; same crisis should not happen if you are learning from mistakes. Would you like to suggest any particular technique for motivation?

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