Bearing Bad News

Getting the bad news out quickly differentiates the PM who is content to be an order taker from the PM who is prepared to be a leader.  You know the order taker, the one who always asks management to “tell me what to do,” “I need more clarity on this,” “do you want fries with that burger?”

Blog Carnival #19 has a couple of “bad news” posts — I liked these Five Tips on How to Be the Bearer of Bad News from the iJourneys blog (here).   John gives a good summary of what PMs face:

As project managers we often have bad news to impart, and that gives us a dilemma: do we come clean, should we be ambiguous, should we procrastinate, or should we just gloss over it and continue to talk the project up?

I like his five tips, though I moved “It is Ultimately Their Decision” last as a gentle reminder that PMs aren’t making the truly hard decisions, yet.  The sponsor is making the tough call to kill/continue the project; to be effective leaders.  To drive the right decision, however, PMs need to act “as if” they were making the call themselves.

  1. No surprises
  2. Forget the Blame Game
  3. Follow the Prince (from Machiavelli)…on networking “it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity” and on planning “A prince that is diligent in times of peace will be ready in times of adversity.”
  4. Have a Solution
  5. It is Ultimately Their Decision
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