When you become a senior project manager there are more chances that your boss or other managers may trust you when they face a troubled project and need you to bring it back to the path of success.
If they trust you for such kind of mission critical tasks you must be proud. But, after the first moments of increased self-esteem, what do you have to do in order to not deceive the confidence they are placing in you? And what should you avoid?
The following list reflects some points I consider as we must do or avoid in these situations:
- Set stakeholder expectations
- Read, look and listen (contract, project requirements,…)
- Talk to every team member individually and grasp its vision of how the project arrived to that situation
- Formulate what must be changed
- Work with the team with new baselines and deliverables definition
- Follow-up the project continuously (advance versus estimations, costs, …) and act immediately in case of deviations
- Be transparent with the team about the consequences of continuing with the previous ways of working and get their commitment to apply the changes
- Change any team member uncommited or who is in a negative mood about the project (that might be spread to the rest of the team)
- Look for improvements in the project and praise the team for them
- Catch immediately any undesired behaviour and correct it
- Do not make commitments until you have obtained the full picture of the situation
- Do not badmouth the previous project manager. It is not professional and your client (internal or external) does not need to have transparency of your internal problems
- Do not criticize publicly any team member (praise in public, criticism privately)
- Do not exchange quality for speed
This is my list but I am sure it can be improved with your comments. I’d love to read your comments and update it with your personal experience.