If there is one way in which the COVID-19 pandemic tested most project managers then it is almost certain that some of them operated some form of crisis risk management. Whilst this may have varied from one region to another, and indeed one industry to another those project management skills were definitely being tested to the limit.
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There are six principles relating to crisis risk management that can be useful.
6 Principles of Crisis Risk Management
1. Be clear on your priorities
The first thing that you need to do is take a good look at the crisis that you are facing; there is a good chance that you will not be able to tackle the entire issue in one go. Break it down into sections; you need to consider the health and safety of your employees, continuation of your operation and also continuing any service that you offer to customers. Consider how you will tackle each of these issues and make sure you have your priorities clearly set out.
2. Put a team together
When it comes to monitoring any crisis risk management, it is important to make sure that you have people overseeing everything. Put together a small team who will be able to meet on a regular basis in order to monitor the situation. This will allow them to adjust the responses that you need to make to the crisis depending on how things are going. Communication within this small team, as well as with other employees on a wider scale is essential to dealing with any crisis. Choosing people with different skills will give you a diverse team who will be able to tackle a wide range of problems.
3. Consider an approach that evolves
When it comes to tackling those critical decisions you may need to adjust your approach from one decision to the next, this is rarely a one solution fits all type of situation As a project manager it is important to check in with your team on a regular basis to ensure that they know they have your support at all times.
4. Make sure everyone knows what is going on
Whilst you might only have a small team assisting with the crisis, it is important to let the whole organisation know what is going on. Rumours can spread easily within an organisation, and it is all too easy for people to panic and assume the worst. You don’t need to mention all the details to everyone, but letting them know there is an issue and that it is being worked on can go a long way towards putting people’s fears to rest.
5. Think outside the box
Once you have put the basic structures in place, got your small team together and communicated with everyone, you need to think about the future. This might mean thinking of ways to do things that you wouldn’t normally use.
6. Understand what is going on
Sometimes even the best project manager can feel the strain of dealing with a crisis. Understanding exactly what is going on all the time and how to deal with the unforeseen issues that might arise is difficult. If you are feeling the strain of the situation, then you may find a project manager course to help brush up on your skills could really help.
Risk Management Techniques
Sometimes when you are leading a project, things can go wrong, and in this time of crisis, the true meaning of leadership is defined. A crisis for a leader is a test to see whether they can step up to right the wrongs. Training for project managers shows us that projects can go wrong in countless ways. However, here we will focus on the common types of crisis management techniques you may wish to use to get through a crisis.
Respond to early warning signs
There are always warning signs that a problem is going to occur. Learn to detect this sign and take preventative action. You will need to develop a plan of preventative actions to eliminate the crisis situation or minimise its negative impact. Make sure that you have developed a good risk management and contingency plan as this will specify actions to take.
Contain the crisis
Once you have identified the crisis, it is important to stop it spreading any further. You can control it and also take measures to eradicate it. To contain the crisis, make sure to act quickly gathering factual data regarding the cause and encourage fresh ideas from your team.
Identify the cause
To get your team back on track, identify the cause of your crisis by locating the department in which the problem first surfaced. Meet with the team and the department head taking an inventory of the degree to which each member was responsible or not. Try not to single out members but review facts and discuss how best to prevent this crisis from repeating itself.
Have a bank of ideas
Make sure to have at least one idea to respond to a challenge of your project. Having a range of ideas will allow you to be flexible and see things from several perspectives. You can efficiently respond to the negative impacts of a crisis situation if you can generate a number of solutions. Be solution focused no matter what problem you are going through.
As the project manager you will need to lead by example in a crisis situation as your team will look towards you for guidance. If you show you are focused, calm and collected, they will copy you. Show that you are optimistic and together can pass through this difficult time together. Do not give false hope but be optimistic so that it motivates your team to carry on working to the best of their ability.
Communication is the best way to coordinate and remain involved with your team throughout the crisis. Make sure your communication management plan is up to date so that your project team and stakeholders are communicating with each other and you. So if a crisis occurs, they know that you have the situation in hand and any uncertainty goes away.
Finally, after surviving any crisis, make sure to have catalogued not only how it began but the steps which were effective in solving it. These records of crisis management will allow you to hone your project management skills, and do a better job next time another crisis befalls you.
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