How much Time Should you Spend Putting Out Fires?


Even with adequate planning and assessment, at every stage of the construction project issues arise that require immediate intervention to ensure work remains on course. As the project manager, you need to devise quick, targeted interventions to avert the crisis at hand. That is why, you need to be in a position to anticipate such and have mitigation measures in place. Such approaches focus on avoiding to stretch the budget and the construction timelines. The following are “fires” project managers are likely to experience and how they can overcome the same: 

Team members not understanding their responsibilities

Every team member has to be held accountable if he or she achieved the day’s target or not after some assessment. And if not, what could be the reason to and what remedies are in place to catch up with the rest. All these are answerable if the team members know their responsibilities from the word go. It is, therefore, important to ensure that everyone on board knows their role long before the work commences. 

Once the project commences, there will be no time to bring up to date such team members because that time will not have been allocated unless you risk delaying other departments of the project. Avoid reaching this stage in the course of the project but rather spend time before the commencement to ensure that everybody knows their role and all issues and doubts are clarified.

Personnel pulling off the project midway

Human resource issues in the project are affairs that affect daily operations in the project. What happens in the case of key personnel pulling off permanently or temporarily? In such circumstances, timely decisions have to be made to get rid of gaps in the hierarchy likely to affect top-down communication and vice versa. A good project manager reallocates resources and seeks replacements immediately to prevent the project from stalling. That is why at the beginning, you need to forecast such instances and have a plan to follow in such circumstances. Such news should not come as an emergency but an opportunity for you to restructure your team and pave the way for the project to continue. 

Deadlines play a crucial role in the project completion and determine its budget largely. No one ever thinks of extending the end date since it directly inflates the initial set budgets. To avoid missing the deadlines, give every team member his or her deadline to meet depending on the task they are handling. Design the closing date in such a way that the particular time is earlier that the actual date you need the same to be finished. That space allows you to adjust your schedule quickly in case of unexpected challenges at the site like accidents or late delivery of materials. In case you want to modify or change a certain aspect of the design entirely, there is enough time for such instances. 

Lack of communication

As mentioned earlier, the top-down management and vice versa contribute much to the success of the project. Disagreements in a team are frequent and are bound to happen from time to time. The earlier the intervention, the better. There is no big or small disagreement. All are equal, whether at a personal or professional level should be handled immediately and to leave all the disagreeing parties satisfied in the end and focus more on increasing their productivity. A disagreement can begin with two people and in no time create division among team members aligned to disagreeing parties. That is why as a project manager must have regular checks with the team members, allow them to air their concerns, suggestions, and clarifications where necessary. Immediately call to address any misunderstanding to try not to take sides but rather remain neutral with a focus on reaching a solution with a win-win solution. The way you solve the issues at hand help build confidence and trust from the affected and other team members.

The above four issues occurring in the course of a project seem small, but when not handled well, they can derail the project entirely that is likely to cause trouble between you and the client. Such frictions are not useful and may affect you from landing future projects because of the poor reviews from the project at hand. Always be proactive and quick to reach decisions that add value to the project. 

About the author: Anastasios Koutsogiannis is marketing coordinator in GenieBelt, a construction project management software that connects the field personnel back to the office in an easy and smart way.