What to do when your PM quits

Jan 29, 2018

We’ve all been there. Right in the middle of a crucial project, the project manager quits to go to work with a competitor, or somewhere else, and the proverbial bag of you-know-what lands in your lap.

The last thing you need is ANOTHER job. You are already doing the jobs of multiple people. So what do you do?

  • Jump right in! The worst thing you can do is nothing. You have to get into it and the sooner the better. Especially if you can get help from the person who is leaving. There is not one moment to waste! Get together with your PM and have him/her do a brain dump to bring you up to speed.
  • Call the client. Set up a meeting to go see them. Tell them what’s happening. Also tell them that you won’t miss a beat and the job will go on. Give them your cell phone and email. Set up the next meeting while at the first one. Set up a schedule of all future meetings. And if there is no way to go see them, call! Don’t rely on email.
  • Gather the internal team together. Talk to them. Get their input on what’s happening. Tell them what is happening and that you will be taking over – even if just temporarily. Make sure there’s no one else planning to leave or big problems you were unaware of.
  • Contact every one of your sub-consultants. Tell them what’s happening. Give them your contact info. Assure them that everything will carry on as usual.
  • Build a new project schedule. Make sure everyone inside and outside of the firm knows what it is. Share it with all internal and external team members before the client sees it and get their feedback.
  • Start doing a weekly job status report if one isn’t being done currently. What happened last week. What will happen this week. Look for special issues or problems. Share this with all team members and everyone in the client organization you can share it with. This report will help keep everyone honest and accountable.

Yes – having a PM leave mid-project isn’t fun. But there is ALWAYS something you can do – even in a bad situation like this. Make sure you take action now. Time is your enemy!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.