Battleship is a Hasbro© game. The goal of the game is to try and sink your opponents’ battleship. Communication is similar to the battleship game because various types of stakeholders can and will sink your project. Instead of approaching communications by chance assess key stakeholders and adapt your communications based on the stakeholder.
- Communication is the number one tool Project Managers use to converse multi-dimensionally with a variety of executive, senior management, technical teams, end users, vendors, and business stakeholders. The Project environment is rich with opportunities to launch or sink your battleship. The communication style you choose; the language, tone, and approach used to convey information will vary depending on the stakeholders’ perspective, priorities, training, and organizational culture.
Stakeholders’ often make decisions from the position of their perspective and priorities.
- Consider the movie, The Contender, Joan Allen plays a senator requested as the replacement for a US vice president. Gary Oldman plays a congressman who believes she is not qualified for the position and leaks pictures to the press. The Photos were a fake but Joan refuses to address the issue. She would have lost the confirmation until the savvy president talked to Gary Oldman appealing to his ego; convincing him to stop the attacks.
Many stakeholders do not have a point of reference for the project and rejects it base on lack of information.
- Sometimes stakeholders must be educated to understand how the produced solution satisfies the business’ objectives. Do you communicate a new external fact such as how the SAP Project System module integrates with the Human Resources department and that this feature can be used to create Work Breakdown Structures and assign resources to those tasks, while using the Network feature to automatically define dependencies within the WBS? Explaining how productive tracking of project cost can be exported from the HR time reporting system instead of updating numerous spreadsheets, allows stakeholders to review the benefits from the solution the project produces, and goes a long way toward successful project delivery.
There are other stakeholders that can and do associate the project managers’ presence as a threat.
- Corporate life can have a ruthless undertone seemly only understood by the players. When new people show up in a department unannounced and the team is not prepped beforehand to understand the role and function of the new people, teams can become suspicious of the organizations motives. The first task is to work on establishing trust through conversation and actions. “The Speed of Trust, by Stephen Covey”, describes how a lack of trust can slow down or speed up organizational results.The cost of low trust can be experienced through bureaucracy, seen in written communications were seniors are carbon copied on every piece of email, and felt when employees are afraid to voice differing opinions. Once an organization’s trust has eroded only genuine communication and actions over time can begin to rebuild trust.
The variety, level, and amount of communications on projects can be staggering especially, when you consider the various stakeholders perspectives, point of reference, and aversion to change.
- Whether these situations launch or sink careers hinges on the words chosen that convey confidence. For Example, when suggesting solutions to senior executives try this approach: “An alternative we might explore is to merge the two departments in order to leverage the division’s resources. Or what are your thoughts on merging the two departments? Remember to use the language that reflects understanding from the stakeholders stand point.
Projects and solutions all start out in someone’s mind as an idea so always keep in mind when people have a lack of knowledge they are likely to expect the worst. Communication is the bridge to projects and solutions and like a seed planted it has the ability to change a company and a team’s direction.
- Trust is a valuable asset to be guarded and preserved and in the words of Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric. “You know trust when you feel it.” If the level of trust is low expect to spend more time establishing credibility. The Project Manager can use communication to contribute or subtract from the organizations trust account.Remember to use communication to launch and not sink your battleship.