As a Warrant Officer in the army, whenever one of my team told me that ‘there is something you ought to know’ a shiver of apprehension went down my spine, because I knew it was going to get ugly. Why is it never, ever going to be good news?
In a perfect world we would always meet deadlines; we would perform miracles with little resources and there would never be conflict, confusion or compromise.
However we do not live a perfect world, and sometimes a project may not be going to plan, criteria cannot be met or goals will not be achieved. This time it could be you who will be required to tell management “I Think There’s Something You Ought to Know!”. What is the best way to go about it?
First of all make sure that you and your team know the real reasons that the required outcomes are not being met; which does not mean assigning blame. If the problem is lack of resources is it useless to blame the suppliers if they are not the problem. Then, having outlined the problem have some specific recommendations to offer.
This is important because being involved in the failing project gives you and your team an insight into why the problems are occurring; and if you know why things are going wrong you should have some good ideas on how to get the project back on track.
The basic objective in this type of communication is to let the facts speak for themselves – so you will need to:
Inform management of the specific issues which are causing the problems; is it lack of resources, unrealistic time frames, or inadequate training. Whatever it is be precise and give examples. Be careful not to imply blame, as this moves the focus away from the problem and onto people. Blame inhibits creating solutions.
Having outlined the problem now make recommendations for changes that you or your team feel will resolve the issue. Again be absolutely precise and specific. What needs to be done, who needs to do it and what changes, if any, this will entail to the original project criteria.
- Now you will need to obtain management’s agreement and support for your recommendations.
By outlining the problems and offering thoughtful recommendations for resolution, giving management negative results need not be so difficult. Often if these reports are given timely they can save the organisation time and money which may be wasted if the original unrealistic goals are not modified.
To sum up, the four point format is:
1. Provide all the facts
2. Do not assign blame to anyone
3. Provide specific recommendations
4. Ask for agreement
Do you want to know more about effective workplace communication skills? Interested in the Three Steps to Becoming a Master Communicator?
Then go to our website for a list of seminars and presentations which may help you or your company to creating improved business communication.
Michele @ Trischel