Sometimes projects don’t go the way you want them to. That doesn’t mean they’re outright failures, but lower-level problems can still cause big headaches. Maybe you experienced multiple delays, exhausted your contingency budget (and then some), didn’t involve end users as much as you should have, or bumped up against unhappy stakeholders for some other unforeseen reason.
No matter why your project had a rough road, you need to be mindful that your reputation could take a big hit as a result. Use these 7 steps to help mend fences with irked collaborators and prevent your next effort from repeating the same mistakes.
1 – Take ownership of the problem(s)
The root of the issue may not rest solely with the team’s project management skills, but somewhere along the way things fell apart. To ensure the group’s reputation doesn’t suffer from past missteps, you should acknowledge the problems and provide assurance that you intend to fix them. This enables you to move forward in partnership with your stakeholders rather than being at odds over why (or whether) your project wasn’t as successful as expected.
2 – Solicit feedback from stakeholders
You want to gather insight from different viewpoints, and giving stakeholders the opportunity to comment on what happened is a top priority. They can give you context and other valuable information that you might not have otherwise captured on your own. It’s also a good way to reinforce your commitment to continuous improvement.
3 – Have a candid discussion with your team
There’s a good chance your team members spotted problems early in your project that either went unreported or that didn’t seem bad enough to cause them any concern. Ask for their perspective on the events and anything that should be addressed as part of the remediation process. Be clear you aren’t laying blame—their expertise in identifying weaknesses and applying improvements is what you’re after at this stage.
4 – Get an objective perspective
A partnership with an experienced project management consulting group empowers you in a couple different ways. First, you’ll gain neutral input on the problem’s likely causes and potential solutions to avoid a repeat in the future. You’ll also demonstrate to your executive team and sponsors that your desire to improve and to remedy the problem is genuine.
5 – Present your solution(s)
Once you’ve developed a strategy to address the root cause of the problems, let your stakeholders know how you intend to proceed. This step ensures everyone has an opportunity to comment on the plan as well as ask questions and provide any additional input that may not have made its way to you earlier. You want these key players on board, since it’s likely they will not only be impacted by the changes you make but they may also need to update their own workflows in response.
6 – Take action
Your reputation won’t be helped if stakeholders get the impression you’re just going through the motions of fixing the problem. You must follow through on implementing the remediation steps you outlined for them earlier and evaluate how effective your updated processes or techniques have been in moving your project planning and execution strategy to a better state.
7 – Provide updates
With updated processes and workflows in place, you can continue to build your relationship with stakeholders and protect your team’s standing with them by keeping them apprised of your progress. This could include showing them where new systems of communication helped elevate problems in a more timely manner, for example, or how enhanced risk evaluation and mitigation strategies enabled your team to proactively address a potential hazard.