As I write this, ISG is engaged in work for clients in locations such as Tajikistan, Liberia, Rwanda and Iraq. While these locations, and the projects we’re implementing, offer exciting and rewarding opportunities for our team members, they also come with a good deal of risk and dynamism. This, of course, isn’t news for the Aidpreneur community. Part of the reason we are in the business is because of the opportunity to work in places that are unsafe and difficult to find on a map.
But what happens when the going gets too rough, and you or your client need to make the decision to stop the work you’re performing – either temporarily or permanently? This has happened to ISG twice in the past few weeks: in Iraq we’ve been hamstrung by the security situation and in Liberia we have had to delay implementation because of the Ebola outbreak.
In both cases, we have project teams that need to be recalled or delayed, work plans that need to be adjusted, etc.
To help you weather these types of uncertain times, I’ve put together the following tips I’ve found useful:
• Client Communication: As (I hope) I’ve hammered home in previous trainings here at Aidpreneur, developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients is one of the most important skills for any project manager. The level of comfort and trust you have with your client will be no more apparent than in in crisis situations. Communicate often with your client-side counterpart to make sure you are in the know about what’s happening and to ensure they maintain a high confidence in your readiness to continue work or adjust accordingly.
• Team Management: As with client relationships, taking the time to develop an engaging and dynamic relationship with your project team goes a very long way, both in times of crises and during normal operations. When the going gets bad, make sure you increase the level of communication with your team to ensure they are aware of how adjustments are being made to the project and what is in store for them – no one likes to be left in the dark.
• Financial Foundation: As I put on the table when we first started Aidpreneur, starting a organization or personal practice is not for the faint of heart. One of the critical success factors I have observed over the past decade in others is the ability to prepare for bad times by having adequate resources (e.g. money) in reserve. When you are faced with a work stoppage, you, unfortunately, cannot stop paying your bills as well. Ensuring you are able to navigate these uncertain times without worrying (too much) about how you’ll keep the lights on will go a long way to ensuring your sustainability, and your ability to continue to deliver “wow” for your clients.
• Diverse Portfolio: Another way to make sure your organization or practice is minimally effected by crisis is to build a diverse portfolio of work in both geography and end clients. One way to do this is to make sure you’re always keeping your pipeline of opportunities full.
Probably most importantly, remember that our industry is fraught with drama – some well deserved, but most manufactured. In times of crisis keeping calm and practical offers your best avenue for continuing your work, maintaining your team and riding out the situation for a successful conclusion.