Project management

How to manage through a crisis – even if the world is crumbling around you

Psoda blog author avatar
1 May 2018

Strong crisis management skills are probably among the most under-valued traits a project manager can have. After all, aren’t project managers used to working well under pressure?
Many years ago, I was involved in a project when a completely out-of-the-blue and cataclysmic event struck. It had a disastrous effect not only on the project, but the organisation as a whole.
I remember feeling totally unfocussed and unbalanced at the time.
This was when the project manager stepped in. He wasn’t the team’s line manager as we all reported to different people, but I’ll never forget how he stepped up and brought calm and order to the group.

What he did

First, he brought the whole project team together in a room and started a conversation. He was very open and said he knew as much about the situation as we did.
He made it very clear that we could talk to him about the situation at any time and he promised to keep us updated as the situation unfolded.
Most importantly – he kept that promise. Throughout the following days and weeks, he updated us as soon as he had any new information. That went a long way towards calming the situation down. It also stopped any unhelpful gossip.
He made sure we continued with our project work so that there was some continuity. It also helped by giving us something concrete to focus on while the world around us was crumbling.
Once he knew what was happening with our project (it was closed down), he made sure we were made aware of the decision quickly and respectfully. He also worked to ensure the project was shut down in a controlled manner, rather than just abandoned. Which in the circumstances could have easily happened.
All in all, he handled the crisis which engulfed us with aplomb, dignity and tact. Everything you’d expect from a strong crisis manager.
I sincerely wish you never experience a major cataclysmic event in your career – or personal life for that matter. But if you do, I hope you too have someone like our cool, calm and collected project manager with strong crisis management skills to help you get through.
And of course, you can reduce the effect of crises on your project by having a good risk management process in place. Psoda’s programme and project management module helps you manage risks and issues in accordance with best practices. Try it out for yourself – sign up for a free trial by clicking on the free trial button at the top right hand corner of the page.

Rhona Aylward avatar
Written by Rhona Aylward
Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

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