Everyone fails at some time or the other. Failures are meant to be dealt with and learned from. Yet, there isn’t a single training course that deals with fears of failure, coping with failing projects or handling failures at work. And this, despite the fact that project failures cost money, maybe losing a client and leaves you despondent and feeling completely at sea. So read on to discover the simple path.
Realization and acceptance of failure:
Admit the failure and accept the fact. Don’t run away from it and blame others. After all, as a Project Manager, you will realize that there are many factors leading to the failure of projects. Face it that you are not alone and solely responsible. Failures can happen to all of us. How you walk-on is more important than how you celebrate project success.
Know when to let go:
Never get stuck with the sinking boat. There is only the drowning way out if you don’t bail out in time. The tell-tale signs of reduction in buy-ins, missed timelines, apathy from the senior management, costs incurred so far, and last but not the least your ego and knowing when to let go.
Review and review constructively:
The project has failed and it is now your failure. So get to the task of a constructive passionless review of where, why and when the train got off the rails. Take responsibility for your team and the failed project. In part, it is your failure!
Were deadlines missed, were resources competent and timely, were there any tell-tale signs of off-roading, what exactly have you failed at? Well, seek and you will find. Recognize your mistakes and be sure that they will ensure you don’t go the path of failure again.
Bias will color your sights:
Reviews often seek reasons for project failure. Seek them without bias. Have an outsider audit the process, don’t look for reasons that confirm the easy way out, and avoid blaming others when things don’t go, as you planned. If you knew along it was doomed, why did you not act? Optimism is positive when in moderation as is bias and playing the blame game.
Don’t play the blame-game:
The PM has to bear the brutal brunt of a failed project. It’s the job, not the person that is being blamed. Check to see what lessons you can learn, what were the signs you did not see, how can you prevent the same one happening again, how can you get your team up and running, what really was your role in the error. Now that it has happened, move on. Do what you can as the PM and do it best, is a great policy to follow, now more than ever!
Plan to better implement projects rather than produce better products:
Let your focus be on doing things differently the next time around. As leader of the team, concentrate on implementation practices rather than a high-velocity release of products. Your team will produce results when you lead from the front and help implement projects better on time and within the budget each time, every time. There will always be so much beyond your control to complain about another day.
In parting, let’s remember failure is a great teacher. Great lessons are learned and success implies always trying to gain control even beyond what you can actually control.