December 1, 2008

Leverage Upper Management Perspective To Survive Tough Times

In times of crisis, such as the current worldwide recession , the role that project or program managers perform is critical. The dramatic changes in the economic situation has led to quite a few people losing jobs as companies cut costs or restructure their organization. Many projects and programs have been canceled due to severe crisis. How can project and program managers cope with this crisis?

Coping With Crisis
This dilemma might shake up the stability of many organizations. However, before any attempt to try and save the company must be done, first you need to identify what within the organization will be most effected by the crisis.. Since this problem revolves at the core around the issues of credit crunch, project and program managers must carefully assess what in their projects and programs are most affected by credit issues.

A common mistake that company leaders make is going back to the old methods since it has been tried and tested. This is most especially true during this transitionary stage that would spell the fate of the company for the future. However, it is during this stage for the organization that project managers must assert their leadership by establishing steps backed by wise strategies to move the company forward.

Embodying the Upper Management Perspective
Clearly stating what the company goals are will enable us to implement proper management to employees. It is the task of project managers to help keep the company intact during recession. Here are top priorities for project or program managers during times of economic crisis.

Cutting Costs
This does not simply entail taking removing manpower or canceling projects. Determining how to cut costs is difficult. Therefore, careful assessment of the overall organizational scheme and the project itself will enable a detrmination to be made about what would be actually beneficial to the company or not. It is reasonable to cut costs to retain the company's stability, and usually there are more cuts that can be made than initially thought, as people usually look at things from the paradigm of what is, rather than what is absolutely necessary.

Open Communication
Communication is a delicate yet integral component for an organization to be effective, especially in a crisis. Therefore, a project or program manager needs to openly and transparently communicate potential plans or problems with the team. If possible, team members must be consulted for ideas on anything that concerns the company. More importantly, they need to know and adopt a strong commitment to the organization despite troubled times, and from the project or program manager must intern make commitments, where possible, to them.

Proper Compensation Plan
This is a critical aspect that every organization needs to study closely during times of recession. Following a serious economic meltdown, companies need to formulate a compensation plan that will encourage its staff to maximize their performance, but now under diffferent circumstances. With dramatic changes in the economic situation of the company, this is also the time wherein you need your personnel to aspire for better productivity. With changed conditions, bojectives change, and compensation plans need to be motivating toward clear and achievable goals within the changed environment.

Assuming An Opportunistic View
During recession, most project and managers are so consumed with fixing troubles that they fail to see opportunities when they arise. Since this is a critical time for the company, it is important to also keep eyes wide open for possibilities that could greatly benefit the company in the long run. A few aspects of the business might be suffering, but that the silver lining is that there may be some organization-enhancing opportunities lurking.

Embracing A New Outlook
Looking at current projects with a discerning eye instead of dwelling on past decisions will enable the company to move forward. One needs to assess where the projects stand to achieve a better perspective on what must be done to get a step closer to the goal of survival. Envisioning objectives - both survival and perhaps enhancement - enables the ability to garner the proper means and methods to get there. Moreover, this will create a new disposition and possibilities. After all, recession is just a phase, and once the credit crunch issues have been straightened out, managing the company will fall into place, and a much more exciting set of challenges will emerge.

Act On Plans
Project or program managers need to understand that during recession, one needs to be more sensitive to the rapid changes in the business environment. Proper retrospect and sensitivity to these changes is the key to adapting quickly. Leveraging the upper management perspective by thinking outside the box of the project or program is a tough but bey step. It will outline the proper steps that must be taken for your company to thrive during tough times.**

About the author: 
John Reiling, PMP, PE, MBA is an experienced Project Manager and certified Project Management Professional. John's web site, Project Management Training Online provides online project management training for PMP exam prep and PDUs.

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