A central responsibility of any project manager is monitoring and controlling (to the extent possible) the outcomes of uncertainties and potential problems that will cross paths with your project.
Spotting a risk is not difficult for most people – especially if you’re a realist or pessimist. The challenge comes in getting the right stakeholders to take action to address the risk. To achieve this, we need to communicate with key stakeholders to first explain the risk, and second, to convince them that it is real enough to act on right now.
But, how do you effectively communicate risk in a way that is convincing? Isn’t it enough just to share all the information we, as a project manager, have and let our listeners gage all the potential issues that can derail the project? No, it’s not enough, and effective risk communication is difficult to master but essential if you ever want to get the necessary leadership support on your project.
A recent PM Network article (attached), discusses a few specific pointers in getting your risk message out effectively and in a way that leads to results.
- Understand your stakeholders and their preferences – do they prefer written or verbal communication?
- Censor yourself – be picky about the risks you choose to communicate vs. not (for example, choose risks that are clear, immediate, and can be acted on now)
- Build credibility – utilize experts in the room to help validate the facts you are sharing
- Be clear – in your communication, crisply communicate only the information that is critical for making a judgment call
- Make risks relevant – use anecdotes and stories to explain why the risk is real and relevant to the stakeholder
- Meet early – be proactive and communicate with stakeholders early and often; do not wait until it’s nearly too late to act
What are some effective actions you have you taken at your company to get leaders to listen and taken action when sharing a risk?
When is the last time you identified and communicated a risk, and what was the outcome of this? Was the risk addressed effectively, and if not, why not?