Don’t get me wrong, fortunately, these projects don’t happen to most of us every day.
But when it does – morale dips on the project. Head Office is furious. In fact, everyone seems to be irate. The boss from Head Office stays away – strange but true. Ever want the Head Office honchos to not visit your project, then have a project where it all goes wrong. It’s like there’s a plague on the project! No one wants to visit a project in trouble. Why – lets rather go visit a project with a happy client, one that’s on schedule and making money! Who needs s..t in their life! Of course when someone from Head Office does occasionally visit it’s like a fire breathing dragon has arrived. Those on the project duck for cover. Those in the firing line are given dire ultimatums. Fix the project or you are out. Cut costs. Fire people. No excuses. It better be all sorted before my next visit. Sounding familiar. The dragon leaves. Morale drops even lower. The problems get worse.
What can we do with the Gods appear to be against us on our construction project?
- Morale – it doesn’t help to be the victim. It doesn’t help to be miserable. Poor morale is like cancer, except it’s worse because it’s infectious and gets passed from one person to the next. It eats into everyone, sapping their energy away. You cannot afford to be downbeat. But, it doesn’t mean you have to walk around laughing and giggling like there aren’t problems. It does mean lift the chin, walk with purpose, walk the project site like there will be life after tomorrow. Talk to the team. Maybe even have a few drinks together after work – even if there isn’t money for the beers find some. Leaders have to stay positive.
- Forget the blame game. Don’t blame the estimator, the equipment suppliers, the weather, the bosses, the Gods. It’s not going to help to blame anyone – unless they are directly causing the project continuing problems and you can change them.
- Drop the anger. Anger doesn’t help. Anger sends the morale down. Anger destroys people. Anger sucks energy. Anger takes time and effort that could better be spent solving problems.
- Realize there are some problems that can’t be solved. But take action to minimize them. The weathers bad – you can’t change the weather, but maybe you can change the way the project is working – it might cost extra money, but it might just be better than losing more time.
- Find solutions to the problems you can solve. Focus on the problems that can be solved. That also means uncovering the real causes of the problem. Maybe the estimate was poor and the project price is too low – but is this the only reason why the project is losing money? There are often multiple reasons for a project losing money or slipping on schedule. Make sure you uncover them all and get down to the real underlying causes. Then find solutions where possible for each problem.
- Stop kidding yourself and others. It’s not going to get better. But, how bad will it get? Every project that I’ve had that’s lost money has always lost more money than we originally estimated. We often try and be optimistic, even hiding the truth from ourselves. Jobs whose losses worsen every month, or whose completion dates slip every month are demoralizing to the team and management. Let’s have one bad month – empty all the skeletons out of the cupboards. How bad is it really going to get? Tell your team you want to know how bad it’s really going to get. The chances are they have been too afraid to tell you. Get all the bad news on the table in one month. Let’s cut the torture of dripping bad news every month. Tell management and the client what the worst case scenario is. They won’t like it and will tell you it’s not possible or acceptable. But, knowing the worst allows management and the client to make alternate arrangements if required. Knowing the worst means that things can only improve from here!
- Be honest with others – even if they don’t like it. Being honest can take the pressure off. Being honest might present other solutions. That means keeping the team informed – they probably know anyway, but being honest with them helps make them part of the problem and solution.
- We all have difficult clients. It doesn’t help to fight them. You have to learn to live with them and manage them where possible. Fighting and resisting them is usually futile and a waste of energy and time.
- .......Continue Reading.......
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