Seven Tips for Effective Crisis Management

A crisis can happen at any time, in any situation.  Even if you think you have all your bases covered, guess again. Crises can come in all shapes, sizes, degrees and from many angles – from natural disasters, technical problems, internal corporate issues and  bankruptcies.  They can happen at the drop of a dime and be very devastating to those in its path.

Regardless of the type or size, it is important to effectively plan and manage for them in the event of one happening and also for during one.  To minimize the shock and awe, and effectively manage your project, utilize and implement these top 7 tips into your project management planning.

1. Be proactive and aware of looming problem areas.  Don’t ignore complaints or issues.  Address them head on and help minimize their impact on your projects before it gets to the crisis stage.

2. Plan ahead with crisis contingency plans and strategies.  Devise a detailed plan and series of steps to follow when a crisis happens.  Ensure these plans are well thought out and documented.  Include everyone on your team or within your group.  Make sure everyone understands their role and what to do, so when the crisis hits, everyone can act accordingly and effectively.

3. Avoid speculation. When a crisis happens everyone wants to know the root cause immediately.  Most crisis situations are very complex and it is rare to be able to pinpoint one root cause. Many times it is a series of events or actions that have lead to the crisis erupting. Jumping to conclusions too fast and speculating is dangerous. It can lead to more problems and hamper determining the cause and finding solutions. It is best to refer everyone to the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) that is in progress, and provide target dates instead of speculative causes.

4. Maintain good communication with all stakeholders during a crisis.  Clearly articulate the facts and keep all parties informed of the ongoing progress and what plans are being made, etc.

5. Remain focused on the big picture.  As the project manager, it is up to you to not get bogged down in the zillion little details and lose your focus in the middle of a crisis. Utilize your project management skills of implementing new processes, strategies and creative ways to resolve the issues and get out of the crisis, minimizing the damage.

6. Demonstrate your leadership abilities and get everyone working and back on track, with goals and tasks.  Provide clear direction and stay positive and optimistic.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and have your team or group feeling lost and defeated.  Be sure to pump them up and avoid negative conversation or placing the blame.

7. Know when to ask for help and where to find the resources you need to assist you.  You aren’t expected to have all the answers, but knowing where to find them is what makes you a great project manager.  Be resourceful and confident enough to know when to ask for help.

Being fully prepared and getting everyone on board with clear communication and detailed contingency plans is your best way to being an effective project manager and successfully leading your projects through to completion avoiding the pitfalls crises can cause.