That was the response from participants on a project management workshop.
How did this come about? We have an activity where I give them a brief. By brief I mean some background information about a project. This led to a an interesting debate with a substantial proportion voicing concerns that the briefings they had from senior mangers were vague and did not help them very much.
This reminded me of a client we had some years ago. They requested we design a briefing exercise to help senior managers develop skills in this area. We broke the project management course into 3 groups with 3 people being briefed.
The most telling comment from the 3 people being briefed was that they did not understand the project and felt they had loads of questions they wanted to ask but did not feel the person briefing them wanted to hear them. This, from a peer – someone on or about the same level in the business!
So, what are the lessons for all of us?
1. If you are a project manager you must somehow find a way to ask questions or get answers to questions about the project. The method(s) you will need to use will vary depending on who the senior manager is alongside where they are geographically and in the company hierarchy
2. If you are a sponsor you need to create mechanisms to ensure questions can be asked and you can answer them or refer them to people who can. A common complaint on project management training courses is that it is so hard to get questions answered
3. Briefing skills need to improve. Evidence presented to me on our project management courses and with colleagues points to poor skills in this area
4. Project management workshops for senior managers should include activities to develop their briefing skills
5. Time needs to be spent on briefing – self evident from all the information above. If time is not given to briefings then risk levels for the project could will increase
So, project managers, next time you are receiving a briefing that is not quite up to the mark, what will you do? Senior manager; what actions are you going to take to ensure that your briefings are well received.