Sometimes, projects go wrong and crash. It is crucial that when they do, you step in and take the steps needed, learn from the incident and then help your staff to learn from the experience.
Here are some essential tips to help you to navigate the bad times.
Even if the customer is threatening legal action or hurling insults at you, remain calm. Even if you think it’s right or justified to fight back, little good will come from it. You will, in fact, likely only agitate the client more,
So, try to remain calm instead so that you can handle the situation much more professionally and peacefully. This is much more likely to result in a better outcome for all parties involved. Focus on the way forward and help your staff to do the same. If you had contingency plans in places such as professional indemnity insurance and alternative solutions, now is the time to act and find out how far you are covered with things turns sour.
Resist the Urge to Make Excuses
Believe it or not, there will always be projects that fail, after which everybody scrambles for cover, leaving nobody to explain how or why the project collapsed in the first place.
When you are responsible for the project, and it is your decision to terminate it, take responsibility and don’t make any excuses. If you are in charge, ultimately the responsibility falls on you anyway.
Truly Empathise with the Client
Let the client know that you hear them and would be angry and disappointed if you were in their shoes. When you empathise, it will calm their nerves and create an atmosphere ideal for discussing the way forward. It will also help you to understand the client better.
When projects fail, it’s easy to be defensive and look for who to blame. Don’t get defensive and try not to take things personally; doing so would be a disservice to your clients. Make a reasonable offer to the client to fix the problem.
Show True Leadership
There is always plenty of tension within the project team and managers when things go wrong. The project team often fails to look deeper or beyond its immediate failure. Internal administrators or partners may worry about the fallout.
In this case, demonstrating true leadership in times of crisis is about ensuring that this confusion does not turn into fear. The project manager’s job is to steer a straight path and avoid any blame games.
Act and Show a Sense of Urgency
More often than not, the origin of the challenges you face is strongly linked to inadequate communication. It doesn’t matter who caused the project to fail, the stakeholder, manager, resources or the government. Ensure that you are showing the client that you can act quickly to resolve their problems – this may even save their faith in your and earn you back some good grace.
Prevention is always better. And it is also wise to ensure that you always have contingency plans in place to deal with potential blow-outs from customers. Have some cover ready for potential problems and set aside some money in the bank for late fees, difficult clients, and so on.