Every agency has been there.

Those few weeks when the planets align in a mysterious way to leave you with half as many staff as usual, often due to either parental leave, illness or holidays – or, if you’re really out of luck, all of the above.

Left unchecked, being short-staffed can quickly turn into a sticky situation for any digital project manager. Without the necessary manpower, how can you keep key targets and new incoming requests on track?

In my experience it always pays to keep the following fundamentals in mind…

Speak up and prioritise

Whenever a client raises an issue, we always make sure to respond in a timely manner. We set ourselves an internal target to reply to client requests with a certain amount of time, and organise our workload based on urgency. When staff are thin on the ground, this prioritisation is key to whether or not I distract the guys that are here.

If it’s a new incoming request, we take the opportunity to speak to the client, find out their priorities and explain our situation. One friendly phone call is often all is takes to put together an agreeable and efficient timescale for the work to be completed.

Sharing is caring

…and make sure the right jobs are given to the right people! Although this one sounds pretty simple, over the years I’ve seen a fair few people get the wrong end of the stick.

This is all about knowing your staff, their abilities and who is the best person for each job. Also, as project manager, you have to be the first person to muck in with everybody else. I’m no coding mastermind like some members of our team but I can certainly upload assets to a CMS and deal with any client queries relating to that. Remember guys, teamwork makes the dream work.

Keep calm and carry on

Effective communication is just as important internally and, when we’re all under unexpected pressure, nobody wants to be talked to in a manner that insults or interrupts the flow of delivering a piece of work.

At Candidsky, we’re also careful never to over-do it and encourage our staff to take regular microbreaks to recharge their mental batteries. Even when my production teams are under the cosh and smashing out an important project, we make sure they all get out of the building for lunch, take a break from their screens or I simply bring them hot drinks (and even doughnuts because I’m such a nice guy).

Positivity, level infinity

Finally, ladies and gents, one of the most important factors is to stay positive!

Attitude is everything. Working together, feeling prioritised, organised, supported and not run into the ground can only bring a positive workplace. Add that to clear client communication and you’re onto a winner. 

Oh, and remember that this is only a temporary spot of bother. Like the magnificent wildebeest of the Serengeti plains, your staff will soon return to fertile ground. (Yes, we have been watching the new series of Planet Earth.)