Whatever type of project you work on you are sure to come across some problems at some point. This isn’t any slight on your abilities; it is simply a fact of life that projects attract problems and that it is the project manager who has to sort them out.
It therefore makes sense that you think in advance about how you are going to deal with the problems which you will inevitably come across.
The first rule to solving any sort of problem in any walk of life is that of keeping cool. This is definitely true in the project manager role. Perhaps the first thing to realise is that any problems or complaints which come your way aren’t necessarily attacks on your ability or a sign that you can’t do the job properly. There is no project manager in the world who can avoid problems all the time so it is just something you need to deal with. If you sometimes have the habit of losing your cool when things get difficult then it could be a good move to take a deep breath when some bad news comes your way. Perhaps you might even want to put the issue to one side and work on something else while you cool down. You will find that approaching problems with a cool head is the only way of getting the right solution.
Find Out All the Details
It is easy to jump in and think that you what the solution to an issue is when you hear the initial details. This is especially true when you were expecting to hear some bad news about something in the project. However, the only sensible way to try and sort it out is to find out all the details. This is a part of the process which might seem like a waste of time but it can actually save you a lot of time in the long run. If you run off and try and sort it out without finding out what it is about first of all then you run the risk of going on a wild goose chase and trying to solve a problem which doesn’t actually exist. By taking your time and fully investigating the matter you can achieve a much better solution because you will be working from a position of strength and with the right knowledge. Sometimes a problem can seem a lot bigger once you start investigating it but this is a good thing, as otherwise you run the risk of leaving some of the details under the surface, and they will probably come out into the open at some point later on.
Consider All the Options
Once you know what the problem is you will probably immediately start thinking about possible solutions. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact it shows that you have a solid, proactive approach to problem solving already. However, what you need to avoid is rushing in and choosing a solution without looking into all of the other possibilities for resolving the matter. Every problem you come across is likely to have a number of possible solutions and the first ones to come to your mind won’t always be the best ones. I like to let the issue sit there for a day (time permitting, of course) and see whether my initial ideas are joined by other ones in that time. You will pretty quickly learn how to come up with lots of different options, so this is unlikely to be a problem provided that you give your brain the chance it needs to gives you some ideas.
Get the Team Involved
As we can see, there is a lot of work involved in coming up with the right solution every time. As the project manager you are the right person to do this but that doesn’t mean that you need to hold onto all of the problems for yourself. In fact, the rest of the members of the project team are probably keen to get involved and help out. Resolving problems is often one of the most exciting parts of any job and you can help your team members progress and improve their skills by getting them involved. If it is a big, complex issue then you could perhaps do this best by getting a working group together for a brainstorming session on the matter. For smaller and less complex problems you could probably just pass the details onto one or two of your team members and then let them get on with it.