Communication as a Leadership Tool Dan Harmuth – PMP / MBA
Agendai. Communication Overviewii. Communication Protocolsiii. Conducting Effective Meetingsiv. 24/7 Project Communicationv. Project Dashboards
Communication Overview (1 of 3)• 90% of what a PM does daily is communicate (PMBOK)• Communication is a means to an end – If you want to be heard – get a Therapist – Socializing is for evenings and weekends• Project Managers communicate to lead
Communication Overview (2 of 3) Be honest and forth coming 1. Issues don’t get better with age 2. Issues might not go away (see #1) 3. Be trustworthy at all costs; you’ll need the trust somewhere along the lines 4. Snake soothers never last long“the greatest thing that can be said of a man, no matter how much hehas achieved, is that he has kept his record clean” Orison Swett Marden(1911)
Communication Overview (3 of 3)• We lead up, down and across (Project Managers)• Walk a mile – Leadership: The executive psyche• No one stops by just to say hello• Fight or flight• 4th type of executive communication – No bueno – Approach w /Executive = Approach w/ Customer – Perception is 100% the reality
Communication Protocols (1 of 5)• The First Rule – Don’t communicate with executive stakeholders in project management mumbo jumbo – Avoid creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt• “Can Do” approach – Focus on what can be done – Never what can’t – Identify obstacles to define a “Can Do” approach – Only communicate obstacles if required to substantiate approach “Thought I’d let you in on a situation, but want you to know it’s under control, and here’s what we’re doing…”
Communication Protocols (2 of 5)• Management by the rules – not by exception – There is a least one exception to every rule – It is impossible to manage by exception – Communicating exceptions in advance creates fear, uncertainty and doubt• The secret formula – Diligently support the policies – Creates credibility – Exceptions will be acceptable
Communication Protocols (3 of 5)• “Managing Expectations” effectively – Do not respond to a request by outlining obstacles – Creates fear, uncertainty and doubt – Obstacles may never result – You don’t look so smart! – “Can Do” approach – Your entire existence• The secret formula (even if its already complete…) – Paraphrase, confirm acceptance & be gone – Creates credibility & confidence in success – Creates easy working relationship – Go to “guy”..
Communication Protocols (4 of 5)Presenting statusWhat Executives want to know – No more, No less1. Project Health if not green Briefly explain risk affecting the health & Actions you are taking w/ resolution date if available2. Accomplishments since the last status report3. Briefly describe all issues – regardless of health Briefly describe al issues & Actions you are taking w/ resolution date if available
Communication Protocols (5 of 5)Overcoming obstacles through education• Never say o “because it’s the way we do things” or o “because it’s required”• Undermines your credibility as a leader – Note Taker• Recognize the opportunity – Look Smart!• Explain the benefits of the approach – The “WIIFM”• Do NOT use Project Management Mumbo Jumbo
Conducting Effective Meetings• Pre-Meeting Communication• Invite proper people and stakeholders• Agendas – Complete with time allocations for the full meeting – Focused – stick to a subject and have specific objectives or goals – Not have too many topics – cramming an agenda with too many major issues is over-whelming – Complete with background information if possible – Distributed a few days before the meeting• Note taker (major ideas and action items with responsible person• Problem escalation procedure and resolution process• Stay on topic and on-time (manage tangent discussions)
24/7 Project CommunicationProject website – excellent means to provide projectdocuments and status reports to interested parties, andall others.• Benefits: o Keeps Stakeholders in the loop even if they miss meetings o “Not on the distribution list” excuse goes away o Shares project information with entire organization o Advertised status of tasks encourages resources to be on time o Collaboration on documents Must keep it up o MS Project view/update centrally to date to keep people coming
Project Dashboards• What information - requires collecting details about the information required to display through dashboards. In addition, identifying the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to display. Examples of project KPIs include: hours logged on projects, due date milestones, percent complete and budgeted vs. actual costs or allocated time.• For whom - identifying who will be viewing the information, and what information the user thinks is important.• How to present - this involves selecting the number of charts to display on the dashboard, as well as appropriate chart types to utilize on the dashboard to best convey the information.