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Tag: Change Management

5 Powerful Benefits of Capacity Planning in Professional Services Organizations

Finding it difficult to mitigate skill shortages in your professional service firms?

Are you constantly struggling with frequent hiring/firing cycles?

Is a pertinent mismatch of skills affecting most of your projects?


If yes, then it’s high time for your organization to create an efficient resource capacity planning framework. It is key to bridging these skill gaps proactively and ensuring the availability of best-fit consultants for the right projects at the right time. This also enables managers to utilize the professionals effectively and ensure successful project delivery.

This informative article explains how SAVIOM’s ERM tool helps in effective capacity planning in professional service organizations.

But first, let’s understand the consequences of poor capacity planning.


Consequences of poor capacity planning in Professional Service Firms

When professional service firms lack visibility into skill requirements for pipeline projects, they find it difficult to initiate proper resource procurement measures to meet the demands. As a result, it leads to last-minute firefighting and costly recruitment practices, impacting the firm’s financial performance.

Moreover, ineffective capacity planning can lead to the under/over-allocation of consultants to projects. This can result in poor deliverable quality, cause cost/schedule overruns, and affect customer retention.

Furthermore, when managers lack foresight into future skill needs and are unable to estimate the number of resources needed, it leads to unnecessary hiring. However, once the assignment is complete, these excess resources are no longer required, forcing PSOs to terminate them. It gives rise to frequent hiring/firing cycles, hampering the company’s reputation.

The lack of real-time visibility into the workforce’s schedules prevents managers from anticipating the release of resources from ongoing projects, leading to an increase in the bench size. Consequently, when these benched employees cannot be efficiently engaged, it triggers disengagement and unplanned attrition.

Given the adverse consequences of inadequate planning, the following section delineates effective strategies to proactively address these challenges.


How does effective capacity planning benefit professional services firms?

A proper capacity planning process is significant for service-based firms in multiple ways.


Let’s see how:

1. Provides foresight into pipeline consultancy projects

When consulting managers are unable to assess skill demands in advance, they resort to reactive resourcing measures. This results in an excess or shortage of consultants in the PSO. An effective capacity planning process helps managers gain foresight into the pipeline project demands and determine the skill gaps ahead of time.

They can then take appropriate decisions to bridge the gap. If there is a consultant shortage, managers can implement an out rotation and backfill strategy or initiate training programs. Further, they can go for planned hiring and create the right blend of permanent/contingent workforce. Contrarily, to address resource excess, they can bring forward project timelines, redistribute the extra capacity among other projects, or sell them at discounted charge-out rates.


2. Enhances billable utilization of consultants

PSOs frequently struggle to achieve optimal utilization rates for every professional, decreasing overall efficiency. When consultants are underutilized, it negatively impacts their motivation and commitment, consequently affecting their productivity. Conversely, overutilization leads to burnout and stress, compromising the service quality.

Efficient capacity planning enables managers to anticipate and manage consultants’ utilization. This allows them to implement various strategies, such as resource smoothing and leveling to ensure uniform workload distribution. Moreover, managers can mobilize the consultants from non-billable to revenue-generating work, enhancing their billability. It helps improve the overall productivity of consultants, resulting in increased profitability.


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3. Facilitates diversification of consultants’ skills

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, PSOs heavily rely on their workforce’s expertise for continued success and expansion. Thus, maintaining a proficient and skilled pool of consultants is crucial. Moreover, fostering new skill sets becomes imperative when a company aims to explore new business domains to drive revenue growth.

A proper capacity planning framework provides detailed insights into the skill sets necessary for new service areas or projects. This enables managers to identify existing skill gaps and implement upskilling/training programs as per requirement. In addition, they can also initiate on-the-job training and shadowing opportunities to help consultants gain hands-on experience. This helps create a talent pool with diversified skills and expertise.


4. Helps in effective bench management

In a firm, projects usually experience sudden ramp-down activities once they reach the maintenance/closure stage. The lack of visibility into the resource ramp-down makes it challenging for managers to identify consultants who will land on the bench. As a result, it increases the bench size, which leads to escalated overhead costs and reduced billability.

An effective capacity planning process helps managers identify the resources that will be released in advance and assign them to suitable projects accordingly. In addition, the benched consultants whose skills partially match project vacancies can be given on-the-job training or shadowing opportunities. This way, organizations can effectively maintain the billability of benched resources and reduce the hiring/ firing cycles as well.


5. Ensures project delivery within time and budget

Inadequate capacity planning poses challenges for the delivery team in securing appropriately skilled personnel, potentially necessitating last-minute wrongful hiring. This leads to skill mismatches or the onboarding of costly consultants. Consequently, it can compromise the quality of deliverables and cause budget overruns, resulting in client dissatisfaction.

Effective capacity planning empowers the delivery department to evaluate the skills required for project deliverables ahead of time. This helps managers make proactive decisions, such as hiring or implementing training/development programs. Further, they can use the out-rotation and backfill strategy to ensure the availability of niche-skilled resources for the project initiation. This enhances the firm’s ability to deliver projects within designated timelines and budgets, increasing profitability.

Given the benefits of capacity planning, the next section explains how a resource management solution can come in handy.


How can modern resource management software help?

Saviom’s advanced resource management tool helps managers create an efficient capacity planning process for professional services firms and reap the benefits.

It facilitates 360-degree visibility of all resources and their attributes, such as skills, experience, capacity, availability, etc. This allows managers to find the best-suited resource with the right skills for the projects.

Further, the tool’s multidimensional forecasting capabilities and capacity-vs-demand report help foresee and fill skill gaps proactively through appropriate internal and external channels. It, thus, reduces the last-minute resourcing hassle.

Moreover, in a resource-constrained environment, managers can leverage modeling and simulation techniques. The what-if analysis functionality helps create and compare various scenarios by changing metrics such as availability, cost rate, etc. Therefore, it allows them to determine and implement the most feasible outcome on the actual plan.


Final Thoughts

Capacity planning is pivotal for managing the workforce within professional service firms. It serves the crucial purpose of detecting and reconciling disparities between workforce availability and demand, guaranteeing timely project deliveries within budgetary constraints.

For this, professional services firms can adopt an advanced resource management solution that will help them create a future-ready workforce, thereby ensuring profitability and sustainability.



6 Effective Ways to Mitigate Resource Risks in Project Management

Do you face challenges securing specialized skills for your projects in advance?

Is your organization experiencing frequent unplanned employee attrition?

Are you finding it hard to identify suitable candidates for critical positions?

If your answer is “yes” to the above questions, it’s high time to develop strategies to mitigate these resource-related risks. If not managed well, these resource risks can lead to project delays, compromised deliverable quality, budget overruns, reduced profitability, etc.

Thus, organizations should anticipate and address them to ensure successful project completion and delivery.

This article elucidates several techniques to prevent resource-related risks and how SAVIOM can help.


But first, let’s understand:

  1. Resource-related risks: definition & types

Resource risks are unexpected events that have the potential to adversely affect the project and the business in case of their occurrence. If not managed properly, it will affect the project scope, timeline, and budget, resulting in sudden halts or failure.

Some of them are:

  • Lack of skilled resources

In multifaceted projects, skilled resources are required to fulfill the project demand. However, these resources might sometimes be unavailable due to inaccurate forecasting of project requirements, resulting in last-minute firefighting.

  • Employee burnout

When managers lack visibility into resource schedules and availability, it can cause double bookings and overallocation. This results in stress, burnout, disengagement, and eventually unplanned attrition.

  • Absence of succession planning

When critical resources leave the organization, replacing them becomes difficult. The absence of a backup plan can widen the demand gap and suddenly stall the projects. Further, the unavailability of resources may overburden the existing employees with additional work, impacting the project’s progress.

  • Increase in bench size

Frequently, during projects, when substantial tasks are accomplished, there is a sudden ramp-down of resources, increasing the bench size. Furthermore, last-minute project cancellations due to budget constraints can increase the bench size, resulting in talent and financial loss.

Given the various resource-related risks, the following section elucidates the ways to combat them.


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  1. 6 Ways to Mitigate Resource-Related Risks in Project Management

Managers must be prepared with a few proven strategies to reduce resource-related risks, as follows.

2.1. Forsee project demand to identify resource shortage/ excess

When a pipeline project reaches a certain probability of approval, the project manager must estimate the resource requirements and raise the request accordingly. The resource manager can then evaluate the demand and examine the internal pool for availability to identify and mitigate any resource shortfall/excess.

For instance, they can implement upskilling, training, hiring, out-rotation/ backfill strategy, etc., to prevent resource shortage. Conversely, to avoid resource excess, they can bring forward the project timelines or sell the extra capacity. This will reduce unnecessary hiring/firing cycles and ensure the project’s timely initiation.

2.2. Hire the right mix of resources to prevent project delays

Based on the project’s requirements, managers should create a judicious mix of employees for successful project delivery. For instance, an accounting firm requires a data analyst to prepare a financial report. Managers should first leverage internal channels to identify and deploy the employee with analytics skills.

If this skill is unavailable, they can hire contingent employees if the requirement is one-off or short-term. However, they can hire permanent analysts if the demand is recurring or long-term. Thus, maintaining the right resource mix helps organizations fulfill project demand effectively, control overhead costs, and avoid delays.

2.3. Facilitate competent resource allocation to enhance productivity

Allocating less experienced employees to critical projects can lead to stress and burnout. Contrarily, assigning highly skilled resources to low-priority projects can cause disengagement and lower productivity. Therefore, managers should have clear visibility into resource attributes like skills, interests, experience, qualifications, etc., and allocate the best-fit employees to projects.

Deploying the right workforce to suitable projects will help managers maximize employees’ productivity. Further, it will ensure that projects are completed within the estimated timeline, enhancing the firm’s profitability and brand reputation.

2.4. Optimize resource utilization to eliminate employee burnout

Uneven workload distribution can cause resource under/overutilization, leading to low morale, disengagement, stress, burnout, etc. Therefore, managers must assess the availability and capacity of the employees before assigning them to tasks/ projects. Further, managers can track their utilization levels regularly to identify under/overloaded employees.

Accordingly, they can implement optimization techniques like resource leveling/ smoothing to optimize resource schedules. Further, managers can mobilize employees from non-billable to billable tasks periodically to maintain a healthy resource index.

2.5. Facilitate effective bench management & boost billability

An increased bench size can negatively impact the organization’s financial health and lead to revenue loss. Therefore, it is necessary to implement measures to reduce bench size and improve resource billability. For this, managers should foresee the resources being rolled off from projects and find suitable work to redeploy them before they hit the bench.

This ensures continuous billability of the resources and enhances revenue. Further, on-the-job training/shadowing opportunities can be implemented for benched employees with partial skill matches. It will enable them to become versatile and deployable across multifaceted projects, reducing their idle time and increasing productivity.

2.6. Create a backup strategy for succession planning

During the project execution phase, unexpected situations like a critical resource suddenly going on leave or quitting can affect the project delivery. For example, a product development project has reached the validation phase, and the lead analyst unexpectedly takes a long leave. This can potentially lead to a delay or standstill.

To mitigate these unplanned absenteeism or attrition risks, managers must identify potential talent for critical roles. They can then create a succession plan that provides appropriate training/upskilling measures to prepare the employees for key positions. It helps reduce the over-dependence on limited critical resources and boosts the organization’s ability to take up more multifaceted projects, enhancing revenue.

Now that effective ways to mitigate resource-related risks are clear, let’s understand how resource management software can help.


  1. How can advanced resource management software help?

Organizations must leverage advanced ERM tools like SAVIOM to manage and reduce resource-related risks effectively.

Here’s how:

  • The tool’s 360-degree visibility of resource attributes like skills, competencies, availability, etc., enables managers to allocate competent employees to projects.
  • The skills matrix allows firms to facilitate training and formulate a backup strategy for critical positions.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning help managers predict the pipeline project demand, identify resourcing gaps, and take remedial measures to bridge them.
  • The utilization reports and color-coded heatmaps enable managers to identify the over/underutilization of resources and take remedial measures to prevent burnout.
  • BI offers people-on-the-bench, and project vacancy reports to help organizations assign benched resources to billable/strategic projects.
  • The simulation technique allows managers to create and compare various scenarios in a resource-constraint environment and determine the best-fit plan.


  1. Final thoughts

Companies must manage their resources and effectively alleviate risks to keep projects on track. Implementing the techniques discussed in this article and futuristic resource management software will help organizations mitigate workforce risk, boost profitability, and successfully deliver projects.

What Construction Project Managers Should Know about Change Management

A conference talk on the challenges faced by project managers of the 21st century lists several factors experienced across industries: scope management, information technology, team dynamics, customers’ satisfaction, lean management, communication, innovation, and quality.


The construction industry in particular is prone to change. Part of this is due to the nature of its workforce. For example, an article for the Human Resource Management Journal describes the construction industry as “reliant on a transient workforce and exist[ing] within a complex multidisciplinary team-oriented environment.” This workforce is continually challenged with some experts suggesting a dynamic approach to analyzing impacts of skilled labor shortages.

As you would imagine, multiple studies have been conducted in how change management principles may be useful in construction projects (e.g., see: conference talk for the 25th International Conference on Information Technology, International Journal of Project Management article, etc.).


Materials pricing in the industry is finally starting to stabilize; however, they remain high (higher than pre-pandemic levels). The labor shortages the industry face are part of a larger story of an aging workforce – hence why newer, tech-forward roles that can attract a younger generation of workers are increasingly important.

The job of a construction project manager is ever critical to meet the needs of complicated projects with continually constrained resources. Change management is one concept in these managers’ toolkit that can help them confront the constantly shifting construction landscape.


What Is Change Management?

Change management, defined by the Harvard Business School Online, is a term that “refers broadly to the actions a business takes to change or adjust a significant component of its organization” including company culture, internal processes, underlying technology infrastructure, corporate hierarchy, or other critical aspects.

Change, they explain, can be adaptive (e.g., small, gradual, iterative changes to evolve a business’s product lines, processes, workflows, and strategies over time) or transformational (e.g., larger scale/scope changes that signify dramatic and “occasionally sudden, departure from the status quo,” such as launching a new business division, expanding internationally, etc.).

To put this into context of construction, an adaptive change might be a sudden change order (i.e., a documented re-define of scope, budget, or timeline of a previously agreed upon construction job). A transformational change, meanwhile, may be a change in management structure or a company buyout.


Change management are the processes and guiding principles that help organizations (particularly, the employees that make up them) respond dynamically to change.

Construction project managers, coordinating teams of cross-functional workers onsite in a “multifaceted, dynamic industry,” need an equally dynamic approach to change management.


Here are some of the factors construction project managers may consider keeping top of mind:



One change management concept construction project managers should know is ADKAR, a change management model and acronym developed by Prosci® founder Jeff Hiatt after extensive study of patterns at more than 700 organizations.


ADKAR is an acronym for:

  • Awareness – Of the need for change
  • Desire – To participate and support the change
  • Knowledge – On how to change
  • Ability – To implement desired skills & behaviors
  • Reinforcement – To sustain the change


Prosci® recommends a 3-step process for implementing ADKAR within an organization:

  • Step # 1: Prepare approach – in this phase, practitioners (e.g., construction project managers) establish what they’re trying to achieve (e.g., better project outcomes) by defining impact (i.e., how the change affects individuals) and approach (i.e., the steps needed to achieve project success and mitigate risk – such as defining clearer project milestones and maintaining open lines of communication/collaboration)
  • Step # 2: Manage change – in this phase, the change management strategy is brought to life through three stages:
    • 1) Plan and act (i.e., preparing, equipping, and supporting those impacted by change – e.g., creating project management plans)
    • 2) Track performance (i.e., the phase in which change management efforts are tracked through implementation and practitioners identify performance strengths and opportunities – e.g., how effective is a project management tool in increasing project visibility, to what extend does it increase collaboration between team members?
    • 3) Adapt actions (i.e., based on what practitioners have learned, they spend time adjusting the change management strategies – e.g., considering the observed efficacy of the implemented project management tool, what tweaks should be made to ensure continuous improvement?
  • Step # 3: Sustain outcomes – in this final phase, the practitioner establishes the approach needed to ensure change is sustained organizationally for the long-term. Outcomes include:
    • Review performance – reflecting on performance, confirming desired results, and reviewing and documenting lessons learned (e.g., project postmortems)
    • Activate sustainment – focusing on implementing actions to sustain change outcomes, engaging in activities to identify gaps and activate sustainment roles
    • Transfer ownership – establishing how to carry sustainment efforts forward with activities including the transfer of knowledge and assets (e.g., sharing lessons learned with and recommendation to business owners)


ADKAR is a powerful change management model and tool worthy of consideration within construction projects to sustain meaningful change organizationally with how companies approach future projects.


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Structural Flexibility and Antifragility

Prosci® recommends implementing change management at both the project- and organizational-level (i.e., project managers should be fierce and empathetic advocates for both the individualistic people-side of change as well as possessing “a leadership competency for enabling change within [an] organization and a strategic capability designed to increase […] change capability and responsiveness”).

In other words, change management should be implemented from top to bottom.


Another, related managerial concept is antifragility, a business model first coined by financial scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The concept makes reference to Greek mythology and the creature known as Hydra who possesses nine heads and is depicted to possess immortality and the power of linear regeneration – growing three heads in the place of two from each stump when decapitated. This linear progression shows the Hydra, when attacked by an adversary intent on defeating it, becoming stronger through the adversity.


As a construction project manager, building structural flexibility and antifragility into your project framework such that team members are empowered to respond dynamically to change can make teams stronger in spite of any adversity they may encounter:

  • Do teams have the authority to employ creative workarounds (e.g., find new supplier, 3D printing, prefab) or work with customers to avoid excessive changes in design that explode project scopes (e.g., suggesting alternative, recyclable materials; cheaper, more readily available alternatives; negotiating on delivery fees; etc.)
  • Do teams have the authority to reject change orders (if too far out-of-scope)?
  • Do teams have the authority to strategically plan (e.g., purchasing safety stock on critical materials from wholesalers)
  • Do teams have the tools they need cross-functionally to be successful (we discuss this in the next section)


Embracing Technology for Dynamic Change Management

Technology should be no stranger to construction project managers. It is the enabler to productivity among teams even where resources are limited. It is the facilitator that allows the transfer of knowledge between cross-functional teams, breakdown of information silos, and builds antifragility into your workflow structures.


Digital solutions that exist to empower construction teams include (but are not limited) to:

  • Project Management: Tools like Procore®, Autodesk® Construction Cloud™, Buildertrend, e-Builder®, and Fieldwire by Hilti® help project managers coordinate work, delegate tasks, track progress performance, and document disputes and excessive change orders. Facilitating cloud-based project management enables real-time collaboration similar to how cloud-based collaboration tools like Office365 or Google Workspace enable real-time collaboration among office workers and university students.
  • Building Information Modeling: Building information modeling enables digital representation of building projects that facilitates collaboration between designers, architects, engineers, construction managers, and customers in real-time, allowing companies to find and mitigate risk, and reduce potential issues in design that would otherwise lead to change orders and overruns.
  • Inventory Management: Cloud-based inventory apps can help construction teams manage materials as well as equipment needed onsite to perform work, as well as cut down on hording across a multi-jobsite infrastructure.
  • Embrace Integration: In addition to the tools above, it’s critical to embrace technology integration – creating pathways for data sharing between project management, design, and in-field execution teams ensures real-time communication, prevention of duplicate (sometimes outdated) project data, and meaningful collaboration that mitigates risks.


Certifications for Construction Project Managers

Finally, aspiring construction project managers should consider certification programs that can (in addition to demonstrating competency to potential employers aiding in career advancement) provide practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of projects that controls time, cost, and quality.


Possible certifications of note include:

  • The Construction Management Association of America’s Certified Construction Manager Certificate
  • The Project Management Institute’s Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP)™ certificate
  • The Project Management Institute’s Agile certifications can also provide practitioners the knowhow to apply relevant agile/scrum principles to construction technology implementation
  • Certifications in Lean Management offered through the Lean Construction Institute and Associated General Contractors of America to apply lean management principles, reduce waste from projects, and improve quality assurance


For Construction Pros also recommends six other worthy contenders for certifications for construction career development.


Bottom Line

The construction industry, more so than other industries, is defined by change. As the industry faces continuous operational challenges, it’s ever critical that construction project managers have the tools to manage their projects dynamically—change management chief among them can help them empower and empathize with their cross-functional stakeholders and building partners, equipped to grow, evolve, and become stronger through stressors they’re constantly confronted by.


Doing What You Can to Change the Unacceptable

Don’t underestimate your power to make positive change. Angela Davis, a passionate activist, is quoted as saying:

“I have given up on accepting the things I cannot change.

I aim to change the things I can’t accept.”


As project managers we are often faced with unacceptable realities that get in the way of project and career success.


Take for example the situation in which meeting a deadline relies on resources promised by a functional manager to be available at a specified date. The resources do not show up because they are assigned to another project and won’t be available for weeks. To make matters worse, the situation is often repeated, and functional managers are never held accountable. The organization holds the PM responsible for getting the project done on time, no matter what. But in reality, most projects are late, and no-one is ever fired for it. Everyone accepts the fact that schedules cannot be trusted. Clearly there is some dysfunction.


There are other examples of unacceptable situations, your boss or co-worker is abusive or incompetent, your sponsor or client chronically has irrational expectations and will not listen to reason, etc.

With a fixed mindset, you can believe that nothing can be done about it. You might be thinking “It’s always been like this and it always will be.” or “I can’t do anything about it, its above my pay grade.” If everyone is thinking that way the situation won’t change. If everyone misunderstands the advice to accept things as they are, things will not change.

Change is possible with a shift to a realistic understanding and a growth mindset that realizes that learning and change are possible. Accepting things as they are does not mean keeping them that way.  It simply means that since you can’t change the present moment or the past, the best you can do is to accept what is and what was. The future is subject to change if you apply the courage and skill to act effectively.


Passion and Equanimity

When we aim to change the things we can’t accept, we are faced with the paradox of equanimity and passion. They are both required.

Equanimity is mental calmness and balance regardless of external circumstances. It is accepting that passionate action and unphased acceptance coexist. With equanimity we have the presence of mind to accept what is, analyze what got it that way, plan to do something about it, act, and accept what happens. Whatever happens, we repeat the process – accept, plan, act, accept. Progress is an ongoing process.

In our example, let’s say the analysis uncovers that functional managers want to honor their commitments but are faced with demands from multiple projects and their sponsors that cause them to over commit. A rational plan to correct the situation would be to establish an effective portfolio management process which moderates the flow of projects, recognizing the interrelationships between functional resource availability across multiple projects. To project management professionals, it seems a no-brainer. But creating and sustaining a portfolio management process in an immature PM environment is not easy.


If formal portfolio management doesn’t happen there is still hope. There is always something to do, including doing nothing. Your options range from accepting the status quo to changing jobs. In between are options like grass roots cooperation among managers as resource demands change, multi-project monitoring at a PMO level, patiently and skillfully petitioning executives for portfolio management, and more.

This is where passion comes into play. Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm about something. If there is a passionate desire to correct the situation, then it is more likely to happen. And equanimity provides the best platform for making the change you want.


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Set and Setting

An often-overlooked aspect of making and managing change in our work environment is personal feelings. On a practical, analytical, unemotional level we can come up with the means to make change. If we do nothing or if what we do doesn’t improve the situation, there are feelings – anger, frustration, fear, despair, a loss of passion, etc.

On a personal level self-awareness and self-management, the two principal parts of emotional intelligence must be applied to enable you to change the things you cannot accept. On one extreme of the practical options is doing nothing, accepting the status quo.

If you do absolutely nothing, your feelings will not change. They will get stronger. Your anger might turn to depression. Your performance might suffer. So, you do something, you change your mindset. Environment (setting) and mindset (the way we think, our beliefs and mental models) determine the way we feel and our behavior.


We Can Change Our Mind

While we can change our environment – the organization culture, stakeholders, etc. – our ability to do so is limited. On the other hand, we have far more control of our mindset (though sometimes it doesn’t seem so). Changing the mindset begins with adopting an attitude of acceptance and letting go.

If we accept that we are in an unacceptable situation and we can’t change it, we can leave – ask for a transfer, find a new job, retire. If we choose to stay, for whatever reason, we have the difficult task of avoiding letting the situation lead to debilitating emotional reactions, like the anger and despair mentioned earlier. That is where a mindset that includes the belief that it is possible to be equanimous and optimally well in any situation is essential.

Apply mindfulness and emotional intelligence to remind yourself that you can change the way you think and feel, that everything changes, and that you can accept the status quo and do what you can to change your setting. This approach leads to a sense of personal control and hope for improvement. It is the theme of my latest book – The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Living and my first book, The Zen Approach to Project Management.


Related articles:

Learn from the Past to Perfect Performance

Making the Impossible Possible

Practical Perfectionism and Continuous Improvement

Achieving Quality Performance and Results

Know When to Give Up

Manage Adversity with Resilience

The way we handle adversity, particularly our resilience, impacts performance. Adversity is anything that gets in the way of achieving goals and objectives. It takes many forms, including self-doubt, emotional reactivity, and disruptions like loss, error, stress, or unexpected change. Some adversity is to be expected.


Our self-awareness and mindset are the keys to successfully handling adversity. Train the mind so you DON’T FREAK OUT. React in panic, anger, or fear and you will not be able to respond effectively. Calm down, manage emotions and mental habits, in the face of adversity and you will be able to recover and respond.

There are many techniques for calming down, but that is a topic for another time. You can visit for some ideas.


Here, in this article, the focus is on how we perceive adverse events. We can view them as obstacles or opportunities. We can believe that we are helpless or that we can influence our situation.



Resilience relies on accepting adversity, perceiving it as an opportunity to recover, and knowing you can act even though you may not be in complete control.

Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches and recover from adversity, to return to a stable state after a disruption. When your project hits a wall, resilience allows you to carry on as best you can.


For example, after a poor performance review, resilience enables an individual, team, or organization to grow from the feedback rather than becoming depressed by it or resistant to it. A resilient project manager will bounce back and learn from the experience of a failed project. An organization that promotes resilience does not blacklist a manager who has failed, but instead provides support.


A resilient person tends to take an active approach toward solving problems, perceives their experiences as constructive opportunities, engages others for assistance and support, and has a positive and practical vision of life.

A resilient team or organization is made up of resilient individuals who support one another. It recovers and moves on when faced with adversity


Adversity Quotient®

Adversity Quotient® (AQ) is a measure of resilience.

“Adversity Quotient® – is a measure of a person’s capacity to deal with the challenges that he or she experiences on a daily basis” (Paul Stoltz, Adversity Quotient®: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities, 1997).”


Paul Stoltz identified four C. O. R. E. dimensions for measuring AQ – Control, Ownership, Reach, and Endurance.


Control is the degree to which there is a sense of the ability to predict and influence adversity. The perception of control, the ability to influence outcomes, results in an incentive to act. The opposite leads to apathy. The person who feels that they have no control is likely to think “There is nothing I can do, so I won’t do anything.” Of course, the practical reality is that we do not have total control. But we can influence the future. Knowing that, if we work at it, we can at least control the way we think and act.


Ownership refers to the sense of accountability for outcomes. With ownership comes the drive to avoid or work through adversity.


Reach looks at the scope of adversity. If adversity is viewed as having a very broad impact on one’s life, the individual will likely feel helpless and pessimistic. They will feel as if they have little control, and according to Stoltz, will make poor decisions and isolate themselves. Containing adversity, seeing its impact as having a defined scope, benefits individuals and groups by increasing a sense of control and promoting ownership.


Endurance is linked to the perceived duration of an adverse event. If the adversity is seen as temporary one will be more likely to push on than if it is viewed as never ending. For example, a project manager who perceives that their innate ability (a permanent condition) is the cause of a failure is less likely to persevere than one who views the cause as a temporary condition, like an error or insufficient effort, which can be corrected.


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Developing a Resilience Mindset

Resilience can be cultivated. The C.O.R. E. dimensions point to a mindset change. Mindset drives feelings and feelings drive behavior, and performance.

When we have a mindset that believes that we can influence the conditions we face and that we are accountable for the outcome, we shift from helplessness to power. With a mindset that is intent on learning from the agitation that comes with adversity there is acceptance rather than pushing away or hiding from unpleasant feelings.


In one situation a project manager faced with the loss of a key, highly skilled project team member who held significant institutional knowledge was able to move on and recover. Recognizing but not being driven by her anxiety, she mentally stepped back and worked out a transition plan including a “download” of information and adjustments to the schedule. The project would not only succeed but would be in a better position because it no longer relied on a single key player.

We are most able to manage adversity when we step back, own the situation, assess it, define its reach and duration, and understand that the change or problem is not the end of the world as we know it.


How do You Change Your Mindset

It is easy to say, “Change your mindset and become resilient.” However, doing it requires intention, self-awareness, and intentional patient effort.


To break the habits that get in the way of resilience:

  • Understand that your mindset is the result of years of conditioning and mental habits.
  • Know that you can change the way you think by patiently
    • paying attention to your thoughts and feelings,
    • questioning your beliefs and biases, and
    • persistently applying the effort needed to change.



The relationship between adversity quotient® and job – PEAK Learning
The power of Adversity Quotient to one’s productivity
Organizational Resilience and Adversity Quotient