Communications Management – Have the Straight Talk
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Third Addition describes the Communications Management as “the Knowledge Area that employs the processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval, and ultimate disposition of project information” (p.221).
A challenge many Program and Project Managers have is communicating with Stakeholders and/or Clients. I find this to be more common with Program and Project Managers on technical or technology initiatives. These Program and Project Managers seem to be able to talk to the technical team successfully but, when talking to the Senior Leadership team (or the Client), they are as uncomfortable as a “duck out of water”. Communicating with Stakeholders and/or Clients does not have to be an onerous activity.
- Do your homework – I have seen many Program and Project Leaders stumble when talking to Stakeholders because they did not adequately prepare for their Stakeholder meeting. Sure, they know all of the detail about the program or project but, they usually do not anticipate the Stakeholder’s questions and therefore, fumble on the answer. Actually, what usually happens is the Stakeholder receives a brain dump and the Stakeholder is expected to decipher the answer. Don’t do this to your Stakeholders (or Clients). Do your homework. Think about what the Stakeholder may ask and give them a clear and concise answer to their question.
- Don’t be afraid to be open and honest in your communications – I have seen many Program and Project Leaders stumble on this one as well. The result of this stumble is usually “scope creep”. Why? The Program/Project Leader tells the Stakeholder and/or Client what they want to hear instead of the “Straight Talk”. Be open and honest with the Stakeholder and/or Client. They are reasonable people. You will be amazed at how well the Stakeholder and/or Client will support you, and your team, when they know you have been, and will be, honest with them.