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SharePoint Blog

May 11
PM Tips for When the Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  Unfortunately, as a project manager, you don’t often have the luxury of leaving tough situations behind and moving on to greener pastures.  When you find yourself and your team in the hot seat it’s easy to panic and become defensive, short-tempered and even mean.  As a leader however, it’s imperative that you put your best foot forward and take back the reins.  This can be done by following three core principals at the time when your project status slips from green to red.  By being thorough, being diligent and being proactive you can turn the project status around and ensure that both your team and the client are sailing on smooth waters in no time!       

Thorough – Being thorough doesn’t only mean being detail-oriented it also means being consistent and following through.  It is critical on any project that the project manager stays on top of all deliverables especially when tensions flair and the project status slips.   In many instances being thorough when a project status is red shows the client that you are addressing their concerns and paying close attention to all aspects of project delivery.  It is also important that once the project gets back on track, that thoroughness is maintained and all efforts are made to ensure the project doesn’t slip again.

Diligent – The definition of diligent is to ‘have or show care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties’.  This couldn’t be more important for a project manager, not only throughout the entire engagement but especially when the client’s satisfaction starts to dwindle and your team is performing at a subpar level.  Leading by example and showing your team how to properly engage with the client and turn the project around will be beneficial to the continued success of the project.  It is very valuable for a project manager to be able to reflect on the quality of their work and reassess their processes and procedures to ensure it aligns with the project objectives and client expectations.  Being able to do that will allow the actions you perform for the project to be thoughtful and effective and will help get your project back on track.

Proactive - Should have, could have, would have.  It’s often not beneficial to dwell on mistakes that have been made in the past but rather learn from them and try your hardest to not make that mistake again.  Since the project status is already red, you’ll need to work on getting the project back on track.  In this process you’ll gain a better understanding of what went wrong and lean how to prevent it from going wrong in the future.   It will be imperative to recognize potential issues and roadblocks as they project progresses so that the status doesn’t slip from green to red again. The client will start to lean on you for insight and guidance as you steer the team in the right direction and continue to be proactive in your leadership style. 

Now, with all that said, in an ideal world all potential threats and risks to a project will be identified before they occur and the project status will never turn from green to red but we all know we don’t live in an ideal world.  Getting a project back on track is a natural and constant part of a project manager’s job and can be made easier by remembering to be thorough, diligent and proactive.  These practices don’t come easily for most people and are behaviors that many project managers have to work at.  Remembering back to Psychology 101, our natural instinct in a stressful situation is ‘fight or flight’.  As project managers, reacting with either response will likely get the project into more trouble than it is already in.  We must chart the course from red status to green status using positive techniques and approaches in order to keep the client and team happy along the way. 

 - Claire

If you're interested in learning more about Project Management for SharePoint, consider attending our SharePoint Project Managment Symposium​ in June. Hope to see you there!  

For free opportunities to earn PDU credit, consider registering for a SharePoint Roundtable​ in your community! ​​

About Claire Cupps: Claire lives and breathes project management and has a dream that someday all projects would be under-budget, ahead of schedule and over delivered.  When she’s not busy dreaming she helps clients improve communication, processes and collaboration through SharePoint.​

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