Your project team works perfectly. The project is progressing well. Everything goes for the best when a shadow obscures the picture: one of your team members announces that he resigns. It’s a shock; you did not expect it at all.
This sudden event is usually a source of disruption for your project. In addition to losing a crucial skill to the project progress, this departure affects your team tied and can cause a decrease in employee morale and a rise in stress regarding the continuation of events.
Finally, the departure of a member of the project team can sometimes be experienced as a personal failure by the project manager.
How to handle this situation? How to quickly find a competent person to replace it? How to avoid losing too much time on the progress of the project?
No worries, the situation is not desperate. Here’s how to handle this tricky event as best you can.
Scheduled Departure or Unexpected Departure
Maternity leave or retirements are scheduled departures several weeks or even months in advance, leaving you with enough time to anticipate and manage the situation effectively.
On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to foresee sick leave, burn-out, or departure for a competing company. However, it can happen more often than you think. So you have to be attentive and prepared for these kinds of contingencies.
Even if there is a notice period of several weeks to a few months, it is not always enough to start a recruitment process and find the right person to replace your collaborator.
In the end, no matter what kind of departure is. You find yourself in a delicate situation where you have to juggle with the reorganization of the project planning, the recruitment of a new collaborator, and the members of the team who suffer this loss.
The departure of a collaborator is part of the vagaries of the life of a project. Keep this in mind and remain vigilant and flexible with this type of situation.
It is possible to detect the signs of a departure. To do this, maintain good relationships with each member of your team to assess their mood, motivation and commitment to your project. Thus, you will be more able to feel if their involvement decreases, if they are too stressed, if they are absent regularly, etc.
You can then act by reducing their workload, soliciting their skills to the best, involving them more in the project, etc.
Often, this can be enough to re-motivate them until the end of the project. But sometimes this is not enough.
Try to Negotiate
If a key member of your team decides to leave the project at a crucial time, do not try to change it. Instead, try to postpone the departure date by a few weeks to help you through this difficult time.
Indeed, if your employee has made the decision to leave the project or the company, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change his mind. And you do not want a collaborator who has lost his motivation and commitment to the project, and who will therefore be less successful.
Just ask her to give you one or two more weeks to overcome this complicated phase.
This extra time also allows you time to start planning a recruitment or assign tasks among other project team members.
Establish a Risk Management Plan
In the same way that you have defined a plan of action for your project, you must be able to establish a risk management plan that is to say to provide solutions in case of unexpected or problem, such as the departure of a collaborator in full project.
In a risk management plan, you define the difficulties and unexpected events that may occur during your project, and propose solutions to remedy them.
Begin by examining the role of the employee on departure. Once you have identified your skills and function within the project team, it’s time to take action.
There are several possibilities:
- Transfer his / her tasks to another team member, with his / her consent;
- Find a collaborator with equivalent skills from another service that could assume this role;
- Engage a consultant to resume the vacant position.
It is important that you involve your team in making this decision. In addition, the team will more easily accept this new member (if you decide to recruit one). Also follow these tips to improve teamwork.
Redefining your Schedule
Now that you have either reorganized your team or recruited a new employee, you must re-evaluate your schedule. Can each task be completed on time? Can you finish your project on time?
If you have any doubts, make the necessary readjustments. There is no need to add stress and pressure to your already fragile and confused team by this unexpected departure.
Use collaborative project management software to help you plan and monitor your project while remaining connected to your team.
At the moment, it is difficult to see the positive side of a project team member’s departure in a key period of the project.
However, this departure will lead to the reorganization of the planning and maybe to update aspects you had not thought of. Some essential tasks may no longer be necessary, which will save time.
See the recruitment of a new collaborator like the arrival of new blood on your team. A new look at the project can be beneficial.
Finally, through this experience, you will be prepared the next time you are faced with this kind of situation. You add new skills to your manager / project manager profile.
The departure of a collaborator in full project is a delicate situation to manage. Its impact on the different aspects of the project as well as on the team can be very unfavorable.
Be aware that this type of event happens more often than you think. Be prepared by providing a risk management plan that will help you minimize the negative impact on the project’s progress.
Finally, avoid making your employees indispensable. If you can, organize work in pairs, share responsibilities and encourage collaboration. Thus, the impact of a team member’s loss on the project will be minimized.