The unexpected is part of everyday life. In private life as well as in professional life, unexpected events occur, destabilize us and force us to change course. Let us take the example of the captain of a boat. To get to his port of destination, he will not necessarily take the shortest or most direct route because he will encounter difficulties along the way, such as a storm or a technical problem.
He will then have to adapt and correct his trajectory permanently. However, this will not prevent him from always keeping his objective in mind: to reach his destination port.
The project manager is in the same position as the captain of the boat. Like him, he must carry out his project and achieve the objectives set while adapting to the vagaries that will deviate him from his initial trajectory.
It is useless to try to anticipate all the possibilities, to foresee all the solutions to the potential risks. You will waste time and waste energy, and most importantly, you will be frustrated because, in the end, a hazard will always occur. Since you cannot do anything to prevent imponderables, one of the best solutions is to develop unforeseen management skills.
Manage the Unexpected Parts of your Project
Here are 6 tips to help you manage unexpected events that will occur during your projects.
- Accepting Unforeseen Events
Daniel Desbiens said, “The unexpected must be planned in our lives.”
As project manager, you know that project management is not a long quiet river. On the contrary, the road to success is full of pitfalls, foreseen as unforeseen. Whether you like it or not, hazards will arise and will upset your initial plans.
The first step to better manage the unexpected is to simply accept it. Accept that everything does not always happen as expected and expect unexpected events to occur. This attitude is in no way fatalistic: you prepare to accept the unexpected rather than passively submit to it. Thus, you put yourself in condition and will not be discouraged when an unexpected will arise.
- Manage your Emotions
An unexpected event will provoke different emotions and reactions: surprise, panic, anger, bitterness. As a project manager, you must be able to master and control your emotions. Use self-control, avoid impulsive reactions and do not put stress on your team. You must delay your reactions.
Under pressure, in difficult times or in the face of unexpected events, it is essential to know how to manage your emotions, to remain positive and focused on the final goal.
Do not react hot, but step back and evaluate the situation to provide an adequate response.
- Know how to Adapt
As Alfred Capus (1858-1922) used to say, “Luck is the ability to adapt instantaneously to the unexpected. A project manager must be able to bounce back from changes, be flexible and adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
Imponderables are difficult to manage, especially when the schedule is already tight. This is why you need to be flexible and take into account the uncertainties in your planning from the start of the project. This will make it easier to absorb unexpected events. Do not be shy when sudden change occurs, but remain open and adaptable (ability to adapt to new situations).
- Show Optimism
Being optimistic means seeing the bright side and being confident in future as a project manager, you must have a constructive attitude and stay focused on your goals despite the various obstacles. Be determined to accomplish your goal and do not let the uncertainties make you doubt the success of your project. This positive attitude will also benefit your team.
- View Opportunities
An unexpected event does not necessarily cause only the negative. On the contrary, sometimes, the unexpected will cause changes that were necessary: a new organization, new exchanges, new meetings, and a change of priorities…
You have to change course, but eventually you realize that it is more efficient than the previous one. Too concentrated on your predefined schedule, you had not considered all the options, and this hazard allows you to open your eyes and seize a new opportunity. Change is an opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge. In short, the unexpected will have created opportunities that you would never have considered otherwise. Beware of these changes, it is important to accompany the reluctant collaborators.
- To Anticipate
It is impossible to anticipate all the unexpected. However, in order to avoid being caught unprepared by imponderables, you can, and even you must anticipate the time it will take to deal with the vagaries that arise.
As soon as the project begins, allow time for contingencies. For example, overestimate the duration of certain tasks or extend the deadlines of the most important phases of the project. So you and your team will have enough time to deal with unexpected events. In addition, it is important to provide an additional budget for managing contingencies and contributors who can manage hazards in addition to their current tasks.
The Count De Belveze (1809-1886) said justly: “The unexpected is not the impossible: it is a card that is always in play.” Contingencies are an integral part of a project’s life. Unable to escape it so prepare as well, accepting the unpredictable and making it a place in your planning will allow you to effectively manage your projects no matter what happens.