Whether it’s a single task you’re responsible for, an entire chunk of the project you’ve delegated to someone else, or a bump in the road you didn’t see coming, something going wrong with your project can result in a serious setback.
You don’t want to experience a serious setback – and neither do I – but I will say it’d be pretty impressive to manage an entire project without running into any problems along the way.
Today, I’ll try my best to prepare you for what could go wrong and also how you can fix it without losing too much time.
Is wrong really wrong in project management?
But before I get into the specifics of what to do when something goes wrong with your project, let’s get one thing straight: something going wrong, experiencing a setback, or encountering a problem during your project isn’t always a terrible thing.
Sometimes we experience bumps in the road for a reason; maybe they’ve been placed there to help you realize that a pivot is necessary, or an adjustment is required.
So let’s not automatically assume that something going wrong means our project is a complete failure and we’ll never recover from it.
Now that we’re on the same page with that, let’s talk about some of the potential setbacks you’ll experience as a project manager and how you might handle each of them without losing too much time or completely sinking your project’s ship.
Potential setbacks for project managers (and the solution)
1. You can’t find help
Project management is, by definition, taking control of several moving pieces and making sure they’re all working together in order to create a finished product or reach a certain goal.
Not having the right help can certainly be a huge setback in accomplishing this.
If you’re in this situation, the best solution is to talk to others about it.
I don’t mean in a therapeutical type of way; I mean in a “I’m reaching out for help” type of way.
When I say talk to others about it, I mean reach out to those in:
- Your existing network,
- The same Facebook groups as you,
- The same online courses as you,
- A mastermind with you, or
- Your extended network – who might be a friend of a friend.
Anyone you can talk to about the help you’re looking for is going to be a win, because the more you talk about it and put it out there, the more opportunities you’re creating for finding the help you need.
Ask for recommendations, referrals, introductions or resources others have used to find help for their projects. If you’re willing to be brave and put it out there, then you will find the help you’re looking for.
2. You didn’t know you needed help
Perhaps you’re 3 or 4 steps into your project, and you’re just now realizing that the scope, the individual steps, the deliverables, the requirements – some or all of them are requiring that you have a different skill set in order to accomplish them.
Well, at least you know how to find help now! (See 1 above)
Once you get to the step or part of your project where you realize you need help, the next step is not to agonize over it or beat yourself up for not having seen this coming. The next step is to logically write out exactly what it is you need help with, and then go out and find it.
3. You hired someone unreliable
Whether you knew you needed them or not, what happens when you hire someone and they aren’t carrying their weight?
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve hired someone unreliable (or straight up someone who can’t get the job done), you have to be upfront and honest with that person. This isn’t a game of giving people five chances to prove themselves.
You are a project manager, and you’re on a schedule.
Take responsibility and hold yourself accountable to that schedule. If the person you hired isn’t able to perform the job, send them on their way and find someone who can.
4. You dropped the ball
You’re only human, and humans make mistakes!
As the project manager, of course the hope is that you won’t drop the ball. However, if you do (and I’ve certainly dropped the ball several times myself), your best course of action is to get back up and figure out how to fix it.
Take it on as a challenge: how can you turn this situation into a positive one as quickly and efficiently as possible?
I look at myself dropping the ball as an amazing opportunity to 1) learn from my mistake, and 2) figure out how to fix it without losing a ton of time or screwing other things in my project up.
So whether it’s a missed deadline, you forgetting to hold one of your team members accountable, or maybe you simple chose the wrong path to take for a certain part of your project, there is always time for you to make it right and get back on track.
5. Something broke
In an online business world, you simply have to be prepared for things to break. Technology is amazing, but it’s nowhere near perfect, and let me tell you: it breaks often.
So 1) expect that things will break, and 2) given that expectation be prepared to troubleshoot accordingly.
Sometimes it might a simple break in html code on your site, which is pretty easy to fix with website maintenance help; or it might be a bigger break, like with a piece of software you’re using, in which case a fix might not be so easy.
If it is a break with a piece of software, and you’re having to wait for their development team to fix it, try to find other steps on your project plan you can still work on that don’t require whatever is broken while you’re waiting. Chances are you can still make progress – just not in the particular order you had planned, and that’s okay.
If you’ve lost a ton of time as a result of having to wait for a fix, try and figure out where along your project plan you might be able to make that time up.
6. You’re frustrated… and spiraling
Project management is a challenge, which is why I love it so much. But like most things that are challenging, it brings with it frustrations. And with frustrations, at least 50% of the time, we experience some type of spiral effect – meaning, we just can’t get over it.
You’re going to get frustrated at some point during your project – accept that.
Now that you’ve accepted that, keep yourself in check. When you do get frustrated, recognize it and admit it to yourself: literally say, “I’m frustrated right now.”
Once you own it, you can now start taking steps that will help you get over it versus let it affect the rest of your day (or worse, your entire week).
You might not be able to control every single thing that happens within your project management framework, but you can control how you react to it. Don’t let frustration get the best of you – or your project.
Take a time out, breathe deep, and get back up so you can start crushing this project like I know you can!
7. You didn’t account for any mistakes
Now that we’re on the topic of things going wrong and potential setbacks, the last tip I want to share is this: while you’re creating your project plan, expect that there will be things that go wrong during the course of your project.
Whether they’re unexpected or you see them coming from a dozen miles away, mistake will happen. Account for those mistakes – maybe give yourself an extra day for a deadline even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
It’s going to be a lot easier to recover from a mistake or setback if you build in time for it versus struggling to make up time if you don’t.
Next up in Season 6
Next up I’ve got a special episode for you on how to manage mindset and stay motivated when working on big projects with our special guest, Meghan Alonso!