Get in the Shower if it All Goes Wrong

The worst think about working on a project, especially when you’re the manager, is when you can feel it failing. Both you and you team know you are losing your grasp on it and you feel powerless to stop it. Whether it be in a school project, or at work most of us know that feeling.  This is a hard pill to swallow because it means accepting that there is a problem with the path that has been taken.

So how do you get past this? How do you revive a team like that? Should you scrap the project all together losing all the time, energy, and resources put into it? Or should you power through with a bad plan just so you can finish? Maybe you could complain loudly, but ultimately do nothing to change the situation. I’ll admit I have occasionally been that person. It’s not something I’m proud of.

While these steps might be easy to do they aren’t always the best course of action. Here are some simple tips to get your project back on track:

Identify the problem

To fix the problem you have to know the problem. Take a step back and evaluate the situation, you need to understand exactly what went wrong and when. Now you have a starting point to build upon.

Get in the shower

Literally or figuratively clean yourself off! Rid yourself of the bad feelings you previously had towards the project. While this tip might seem unessential, it is actually quite important. If you refuse to let go of your past failures with the project it will make moving forward virtually impossible, it can hinder your ability to come to the table with an open mind ready for a fresh start.

Talk to your team

Communication is key. To get your team back on track everyone needs to be on board and working towards the same goal. This is not a time to try and place blame. Make sure everyone knows their role and how it contributes to the bigger picture. If possible, encourage an open line of communication to eliminate a breakdown in the project due to a breakdown in communication.


Learn from your mistakes and refocus yourself. Based on your identification of the problem create a new plan that solves it. “Issue a revised scope statement, obtain the funding, reset the schedule and obtain appropriate approvals. You have been given a new lease on your project” (Cutting).

This list is by no means comprehensive and these are only beginning steps to fix a bigger problem. But start here and you’ll be on the right track to saving your project.

How could you expand on this list? What tips do you have for saving a project? What doesn’t work? How do you know when a project is no longer salvageable?


12 thoughts on “Get in the Shower if it All Goes Wrong

  1. I really like this post because of how relatable it is to situations that I have been in. Recently, I was a part of the opening team of a new bar in Lincoln Park. The plan was to have a soft opening, and then let the doors flood open on a busy weekend night. The only problem was that no one anticipated the lack of guests that would attend. I believe that management slipped a little when it came to marketing, anticipating a huge opening without the proper acknowledgement. Come time for opening, servers were left with nothing to do, people were sent home early and most importantly, the bar was not getting the business it needed. I could see the disappointment in management as they hustled to figure out a new route to get people in the door. If they would have followed these steps and addressed the issues to the entire staff, people may have been more on board to help fight through this slow transition period.

  2. I like this post because I really like the idea of analysis within a project, especially when trying to remedy the situation. What got me to originally look at the post is the idea that you should get in the shower to reboot. I agree with this very much, many times I find myself either in school or at work stressed about something I take a shower and feel better. I take a shower every morning for 2 reasons, first because it is necessary for all of the people around you, and second to boot up and get going during the day. Therefore if a project is failing and one is stressed about it, hop in the shower you will feel better.

  3. This post made me think about past experiences of both teammates and myself. The feeling of failure is tough to handle but obtaining success is worth the pain. When the going gets tough don’t blame others, don’t complain out loud just relax. Like you said clean your self off, take a shower to relax the body and mind or take some time and listen to music which always helps me. Stick with your team and not against them, with some relaxation and proper thinking the project can become a success.

  4. This post was extremely simple, yet applicable to almost every situation a project may have. While vague, it allows one to break down the problems occurring and find a solution rather than jumping the gun and continuing to fail. My favorite portion was to “reboot’, as many times the solutions I’ve found with issues at work have required me to not leave from where I left off, but rather start completely over to see if any other solutions come my way. I think attempting to see a problem through a clear lens and to start the entire process again (obviously taking into consideration the time involved) can be beneficial toward not only finding a solution that works, but possibly discovering other kinks that may have not been realized.

  5. Your title is pretty legit. Taking a step back to breathe, in my opinion, is not only key when failing during a project but key when facing any problem. Frustration and disappointment are natural but not at all constructive to solving the problem at hand. I find when writing a paper if I am failing I take a breather and work on something else or may physically take a shower (depends you know). Also, communication is underrated when failing. It makes everyone on the team feel a little better about the situation.

  6. This is a great post and I know we can all relate!
    I really like how you broke down the steps you take in turning around a bad situation. Accepting that there is a problem or issue and coming up with a solution is the hardest part, your analogy of “cleaning off” and “rebooting” is a great way to clear the air and make sure everybody is on the same page.

  7. I really enjoyed this post. It very relatable because everybody has probably gone through this situation. I liked how you made the different steps and gave a brief descriptions as to what we have to do if we encounter a situation where we feel that our project is failing. I will definitely keep this post in mind whenever I encounter a situation like this.

  8. This was a great post. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to it, we’ve all gotten to that point of frustration while working on a project. Your list of tips will must definitely come in handy in the future. One of the points that stood out to me among the rest was “talk to your team”, sometimes we’ll get paired with 3 or 4 people but somehow you find yourself working alone. I also agree communication is key.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post. Most people can relate because they have gone through this experience before. It can be really though for some people to get out of the failure stage during a project, but knowing these steps can be very helpful to get out of that stage.

  10. You have given some very well-thought out suggestions on how to revive your team when a project is failing. It is important for a project managers to follow-up during the controlling phase because it allows them to monitor the progress of the project and fine-tune areas that need improvement to meet organizational objectives. In my previous past school projects, I found open communication to be the most beneficial factor when completing a project because each member’s contribution is equally important and it has substantial impact on the final product of the project. I feel that a project is unsalvageable only when there is nothing else left in your power that can control the outcome of the event. For example, unexpected circumstances that arise such as an insufficient amount of resources, changing market conditions, or company mergers are justifiable reasons that could cause a project manager to withdraw a project in the works.

  11. HI. Janelle. It is really a good post. You have summary how to “get in the shower when all goes wrong”. I feel like most manager when they feel it failing, they are just accepting that there is a problem with the path that has been taken. And here, you tips are really helpful. In my opinion, identify the problem and communicate with the team are the most important, and these two tips are connected. For example, when you have no idea with what is the problem, you can ask the idea from you team. They may know because they are in the process. Or if you have know what is the problem, but you do not know how to solve it. The team they may know the way to fix it out. So when we have trouble with manager, never give up.

  12. I think it is really important to take a step back when we see something failing. We need to put it in perspective and realize that we can help solve the issue. When things go wrong we sometimes rush to try and fix it and end up making it worse or not making any progress. Another issue is not involving the team enough in trying to solve the problem. Having everyone on board can help the process a lot.

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