By Adrian Johansen
Image Source: Pexels
The COVID-19 epidemic has created an unprecedented amount of instability for business owners and project managers alike. In many cases, client budgets have frozen, slowing business to a crawl. In addition, employee availability has become incredibly complex as companies are forced to decide between shifting to remote work, having employees tap into comparatively cushy unemployment benefits, or a mixture of the two.
Add onto that the fact that finances for many companies have been throttled and government relief programs seem sketchy at best, and it’s not exaggerating to say that the entire business world has been flipped on its head.
While most employees can do little more than hold on tight and wait for things to calm down, project managers are under a bit more pressure. They’re stuck in the unenviable position of trying to keep operations moving forward in nearly intolerable circumstances. If you’re a project manager who is struggling to adapt to all of the changes, you’re not alone. Here are some suggestions to help you make the hard decisions and strive to keep your projects on track in the midst of hobbled activity and ongoing uncertainty.
Comb Over Your Internal Operations
If client business or sales are slow at the moment, it doesn’t mean you need to sit on your hands and passively wait for things to clear up. Instead, take this novel situation as an opportunity to prioritize typically underprioritized concerns. For instance, in response to the coronavirus, you may suddenly find yourself working with a remote team. While remote work has been a project management trend for some time now, many companies are jumping on the bandwagon as they find themselves with no other option.
Fortunately, you don’t have to treat this shift as a negative hurdle that must be overcome. Instead, look at it as an overdue embrace of a competent technology. Consider ways to adapt your traditional operations to a remote work setting that will benefit your team even after quarantines have ended.
The point is, use this shift in the status quo to overhaul and comb over your internal operations. As you do so, look for any area that can be updated or improved, not just for the short-term but permanently.
Learn Now to Be Productive Tomorrow
Along with analyzing your internal operations, take some of this downtime to consider your staff. Where can their skills be sharpened and improved in order to increase productivity or quality?
Can you use this time of reorientation to implement a learning management system (LMS) to either train employees in new methods or improve old ones? Is this a good time to help management brush up on the SCARF Model or other project management procedures? By using your time to train and invest in your employees and leadership, you can return to business better equipped for success in the future.
Always Be Innovating
Another way to ensure that your projects stay on track is to take slow times like these to focus on innovation. Often the need to keep up on deadlines, organize a workforce, and train new employees can prevent managers from properly thinking about the future.
Instead, take advantage of the lull in typical activity by looking for new and improved ways that you can conduct business. For instance, use this time to research ways that you can track and use existing data to help with decisions within your team. Identifying patterns and inefficiencies within your existing data can help you to make pinpoint specific changes in your operations going forward.
Another way to innovate could be looking for new technology that has made existing behaviors or methods irrelevant or inefficient. For example, the technologically-powered gig economy has made it easier than ever to outsource labor that your team may not be able to properly handle. Anything from software development to developing search engine optimized content can be farmed out to professionals at low costs, freeing up your team to focus on your core responsibilities. And the best part is, you may be able to start delegating contracted work immediately since so much of the gig economy takes place remotely.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Informed Decisions
Finally, as you go about overhauling, analyzing, and improving your internal operations, remember to set an example as a strong leader. Sound leadership is always in high demand, and never more so than when uncertainty reigns supreme.
As you go about sizing up tough situations and considering what are the best options available, remember to act decisively. Don’t be afraid to make tough calls, and always try to communicate your reasoning to your team when necessary. By demonstrating strong leadership, you’ll help to foster a purposeful, positive direction for your projects throughout all of the chaos.
Cultivating a Cup Half Full Leadership Philosophy
From improving inefficiencies to innovating and being a strong leader, there are many ways to quietly keep your projects on track behind the scenes. These activities may feel ineffective as your team struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy, but they’ll have an invaluable effect on the long term ability of your projects to stay on track.
By sharpening your team’s skills and increasing productivity and efficiency, you’re equipping them to exceed expectations when things resume in the future. If they can do that, you’ll likely find yourself back on track in no time and even ahead of schedule before long.