A core element in consistent project success is your team’s ability to identify, assess, understand, and address potential risks. The timing of these activities is also important in project risk management since it’s often less disruptive and less expensive to implement solutions sooner in an initiative’s lifecycle rather than later.
But while your team members may have the skills and experience to spot risks early, what happens if they aren’t comfortable bringing issues to the group’s attention? People may choose to avoid raising flags about potential risks for all kinds of reasons, including:
- Lack of awareness around your firm’s risk management and mitigation process
- Fear of being blamed for the risk’s existence in your project
- Desire to have a solution ready before bringing the risk to the rest of the team
These elements can be fixed individually. However, a better approach is to nurture a culture within your organization that embraces the risk management discipline and actively encourages team members to work together on building their risk management capabilities.
If you’re worried about project problems lurking in the background or going unaddressed, consider these steps to help develop a culture that facilitates good risk management practices.
Create regular opportunities for the group to discuss risk management efforts. Don’t leave your team members struggling to find a time to raise issues and work through them. Instead, build time into your regular weekly or monthly team meetings for individuals to talk about risks they’ve identified within the project. Routinely providing a forum helps accelerate the entire risk management process, from identification through resolution. It makes conversations about risk a habit rather than an anomaly, leading to a healthier attitude toward risk management in general. It also offers junior professionals in your group a chance to see their senior-level colleagues work as a team to solve risk-related issues. Everyone ultimately benefits from a deliberate risk mitigation plan.
Establish and broadcast your process for alerting the team about potential risks. Creating a formal workflow helps people raise concerns quickly, but you want to remain flexible enough so project team members can bring issues to the forefront in whatever way makes them feel comfortable. It can be hugely valuable for the group to know the preferred method for broaching risks. This removes much of the hesitation on team members’ part and provides a smooth flow from risk identification through troubleshooting to eventual resolution. However, it’s equally vital that various steps within that process can be changed up when appropriate. Remote teammates, for example, may benefit from a different collaboration approach if the formally established practice is to connect in person with a supervisor. You may also want to provide several points of contact, in case someone feels there are internal politics or egos at work that could frustrate the process or cause problems for the person raising the issue.
Leverage the power of your entire team. Emphasize that problem-solving is best done as a group and practice your risk management strategy with all team members present. A group setting can initially seem overwhelming for an individual bringing project concerns up for review, but if the leadership genuinely values an effective risk management strategy and innovative solutions, then working through problems as a team will be a natural next step in line with the organization’s culture. Your team members can improve their risk assessment and mitigation skills alongside their peers and learn from the experiences of others in the group. You’ll have more minds working to unravel and address every risk scenario, and everyone can apply those lessons learned to reach future success.