Continuing a Project When Your Partner Is Fired

Project work can be disrupted seriously if a project partner is fired. You may need to do some fast and intensive damage control if you find yourself in this position.

Assessing the Needs of the Situation

Project tasks are invariably integrated and scheduled. The loss of a staff member means that the project must cover the shortfall in terms of productivity.

To assess the effects of the loss of the staff member:

  • Check the status of the work for that position: Loss of a staff member usually means the position is behind schedule. If the work is seriously behind schedule, you may need to allocate resources to clear up the backlog, as well as cover the rest of the work.
  • Check to see if anyone is waiting for work from the position. This will give you a very reliable guide to the immediate operational issues, and what will need to be done first.
  • Estimate the time factor required for getting the work up to speed: Will you require overtime, if so, how much? Is that workable with your budget?

Create a report for your manager, or if you are the manager, for your project records, so you've identified all issues and costs. This is a necessary audit function, and you will need to justify any extra expenditure out of the contingency budget.

Undoing the Damage

As soon as you can, start a recovery process to undo the damage from the lost position:

Check your options for fast turnaround of any outstanding work: If you can delegate that work  to  other project staff without affecting productivity, it's a safer and far more reliable option than trying to do it ad hoc. (One quick, simple form of delegation is to take someone off a less important job which can be more easily covered later.)

If you don't have a fast turnaround option, break up the work among competent staff, including yourself, if necessary, into easily manageable sections. Set a deadline, and get as much work done and out of the way as fast as possible.

Restructuring after losing a project position

If you have to carry on without the partner's position on your project, you'll need to permanently rearrange the tasks of the staff to cover the work. You'll find you can achieve a good level of efficiency if you delegate to people's preferences:

  • If the previous breaking up of the position's backlog worked well, you can permanently break up those tasks among your staff along those lines with little damage to the project's needs.
  • This will mean putting an extra workload on your reduced staff numbers, so you'll have to provide them with some backup and/or overtime to ensure their own work doesn't suffer as a result. (A temporary staff member or "task force" may help cover the shortfall, if your budget allows.)
  • If the work is specialized you'll need to delegate a specialist, and restructure around the changed roles on the project: This is "delegating sideways", moving tasks around to other staff members based on their expertise.