Project Communications to the C-Suite
By Tobi Evangelisti, Senior VP of PMO, and Craig Mullen, Engagement Manager, LogicsOne
Project communications to the C-Suite must include as much rational objectivity as possible to provide a pragmatic update taking into consideration identification of the C-Suite stakeholder’s interest.
The importance of constructing a projects’ communications to the C-Suite, starts with conscious development of the subject line. The first couple of sentences must address directly the project status and communicate whether action (or reading is required) or that the communication is providing a summarized update. It should have detail to understand the big picture but not overly granular. C level execs will always come back if they require more.
Communications to the C-Suite are not project status reports. Do not lead off with issues, items, or ideas, unless they are strategic or business oriented. Management functions within the C-Suite typically have functional expertise, but their focus usually would be different than a department because of their focus on the larger business environment. Ideally, the project communications role to the C-Suite would be as trusted advisor. A communication should be concise and clearly outline project status, open issues requiring attention and specifics as to how the project may require assistance. If the communication is in regards to issues that may be occurring an overview of the timeline is important for the C level person to understand the magnitude and the sense of urgency. In C level communications it is important to make sure the message includes a next step or a move forward plan. This creates a confidence that you are continuing to work the issue.
There is a time and place for email communication, phone calls and in person communication:
- Rule number one: Understand how your audience prefers to be communicated with.
- Rule number two: Do not hide behind email. Sending an email does not mean that the issue is resolved and if the topic is hot it is imperative to either call or find the person face to face if possible.
- Rule number three: Sense of urgency should assist in choosing your communication method.
- Rule number four: IF you are using email: Use proper use of the to and cc fields. If you do not require action use the cc. If you are requiring action, use the to field.
Effective communications start with using simple words and clear thoughts. C-Suite communications is essentially the project manager’s version of the sales elevator pitch. It may help to have a co-worker proof your message, or at least make sure you re-validate the initial draft to ensure clarity, emotional tone (balanced), accuracy, and timeliness.
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