I am sure most of you have witnessed at your organization or during your tenure as PM on a large, visible project, the reluctance to pass bad news to you or your PM until things hit the ceiling. As a PM , nothing is more scarier than not knowing the real status of the project until when the deadline appears. I was interested to know, what should the PM do to encourage team members to report back honest status to the PM and above. I found this interesting article in LinkedIn that talks about just this topic.
According to author following are some of the ways that PM’s can deal with this issue
1. Don’t shoot the messenger- Encourage team members to be forthright about issues and risks that they see to timelines. The attitude of PM should be that of a shared responsibility (we are a team), rather than threaten team members.
2. Meaningful status meetings- Status meetings should be more of a question answer session rather than the usual “what is the status and blockers” line. Advanced (specific) questioning on individual deliverable will yield more than the “it’s all OK boss” response.
3. Understanding the technology – Knowing a little about the underlying technology implemented in the project will help PM’s do some advanced questioning or additional probing of individual deliverable. In my opinion, this will also help the PM’s to be more tightly integrated with the team. I know some PM’s that prefer to stick to scheduling and plan management and they end up siloed.
4. Each milestone is a project – The author in the LinkedIn article recommends to treat every duration between milestones as if it were a project in itself, with the upcoming milestone as the terminal date. This minimizes the tendency for people to think they have plenty of time to make up for schedule slippage and budget overrun.
As one of the comments on the author’s article sums it up – This takes a kind, humble, yet confident and assertive leader. Employees won’t be scared of the PM’s wrath, but will rather not want to disappoint the PM.
How do you engage peers and team members to be honest and proactive in communicating risks about the project?
How do you coordinate and communicate bad news about the project to your superiors?