As Project managers, we’re used to dealing with uncertainty, change, conflicting priorities and managing risk in the process of getting the job done. But no one had COVID-19 on their risk register. So, how do we deal with things differently in these unprecedented times?
Manage the risk and plan alternatives
We’re not yet in the worst-case scenario. Yes, we have been presented with some obstacles, but we have the appropriate tools to overcome them.
Firstly, work through a risk assessment with your project sponsor, steering committee, and team. What is the alternative route if the Tech lead gets sick, or the Project sponsor, or the whole project team? What is the plan if the Executives on the project steering committee are all redirected to focus solely on COVID-19? How does this impact the health of the project? Find the common themes that come out of a risk assessment exercise and plan for those.
Trust your team
There is no need to switch to micro-managing; delegate and trust your team to get on with their tasks. Trust that people will do what they say they’re going to do and raise the issues when they can’t meet their objectives. Be clear and succinct about the outcomes and deliverables, as you would do in an office, then let them get on with it.
Be mindful of the impact on your team: not everyone’s working from home situation is the same. Provide people with physical and mental risk management modules, so that your organisation can continue that productive workflow momentum.
Communication – Keep calm and share
Transparency is key to remote working with your project team. Ensure you have a secure online space for sharing project information, plans, documents, and communication, particularly with people working remotely.
Be proactive with your communication channels to maintain workplace cohesion. Set up a regular time to check in with your team, so they know when they can expect an update. All of this is achievable by leveraging the functions and benefits of office 365. More information can be found on how to optimise this on our recent blog.
As a leader, don’t pretend you have all the answers, there will be some questions you need to follow up with regards to regulations and recommendations.
Setup more regular reviews with the Project Steering Committee, where the plan, priorities and risks can be reviewed, scenarios discussed, and decisions made. Sharing knowledge is key in ensuring that the team is making informed decisions to provide the ideal pool of solutions.
Although current circumstances seem challenging, be sure to shine optimism with others that this time will pass by, and by working together your team can embark upon the path to a smooth recovery.