VOICES Project Toolkit
Everyone’s heard the old
expression: Don’t shoot
the messenger. But when
the project manager tells
the team about a problem,
tempers can flare.
We asked project
How do you avoid
creating a negative
delivering bad news?
Bearer of Bad News
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Provide your audience with some back-
ground information about what the issue
is, what caused the issue, actions taken
and the end result. Always offer options and then
provide your recommendation.
During one project I worked on, the planning
and elaboration indicated that the cost would be
higher than allowed. At the meeting to present delivery options, the governance group of primarily business stakeholders was not pleased with the situation.
In order to get past the negativity, I needed to
win their trust.
I provided the stakeholders with some background
on the state of the project. Then I presented a couple
of delivery options and the expected outcome, benefit
and cost. I elaborated further by explaining what
caused the increase in budget and scope for each
option. By elaborating and explaining the situa-
tion, I was able to get the group to relate to how
the issue was triggered. And after I addressed
their concerns, the group pleasantly selected
and endorsed one of my recommendations.”
—Kashvinderjit Kaur Grewal, CAPM, PMP, project
manager, Christchurch City Council, Canterbury,
Issues come up all the time, but if you work
collaboratively to resolve them, you can
put them behind you and move forward.
A few years ago, I inherited a fairly old project that
had passed through a few project managers. When I got
it, there were new stakeholders, and their needs had
changed considerably. Plus, the sponsor team felt their
needs were not being met by our product or our team.
They were unhappy to the point that almost every
meeting would result in an attack on the product or a
list of issues that they had encountered.
They were quite obviously upset and disappointed.
So my initial reaction was to listen, ask questions and
put myself in their shoes. I researched their com-