Why is escalation the last resort?

Escalation should never be a threat or a punishment; escalation should be for the benefit of the organisation, says David Hamilton

Have you ever looked at a project or a workstream that is not going anywhere and thought to yourself, ‘why hasn’t this been escalated?’ We all know that, sometimes, projects need to be escalated to a senior level to get decisions made or things unblocked. Yet, escalation often seems to be the route of last resort and can happen weeks or months after it should have.

It is easy to understand why. If you are the project manager or workstream lead, you might worry that you’ll be getting someone into trouble, you might damage an ongoing working relationship, or you might be concerned that people think you weren’t up to the job of delivery. We can’t pretend that there is no risk in escalation because it doesn’t always go smoothly, but in almost all scenarios appropriate and managed escalation is a much better solution for the project than just giving someone their fourteenth last chance to get their actions completed.Read more


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Posted by David Hamilton on 29th May 2020

About the Author

David is the Managing Director of the project management firm Projecting which specialises in financial services projects and has offices in Edinburgh, London, and Madrid. He started the company in 2013 after 14 years in project management in various project, programme, and Head of Project roles. David has been involved with APM for several years, including as a former branch committee member and organiser of the Scottish Conference, as well as running project management seminars and writing articles within the sector.

David is a trustee of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – a non-departmental public body and home to Scotland’s national collection of plant species and specimens – and sits on the programme board for their £70m Edinburgh Biomes project. He is also a Board member, and former chair, of the Scottish youth homelessness charity The Rock Trust.

Image: Gubin Yury/Shutterstock

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