Welcome back to the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset Series. We started this series by setting the stage for the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset by looking at the reality that many of us face as PMO leaders today. We touched on where PMOs and the industry are now, and we even began to explore what to do about the shifts that are happening in the industry. You can read more about that here.
Next, we looked at the first secret to the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset, Instilling Focus to drive high-IMPACT outcomes with the PMO. Catch up on that article here.
Then, I shared why it’s important to Measure Outcomes, not just progress, to accurately measure the IMPACT your PMO is having on the organization. You can catch up on that article here.
After that, I shared why you must Perform Relentlessly to drive high-IMPACT outcomes on the most important priorities, which helps to build long-term credibility. Check that article out here.
Last week, I shared IMPACT PMO Leader secret #4, how you must Adapt to Thrive, not just survive with your PMO. You can read about that here.
Now we are working on communication, and how to Communicate with Purpose to drive actions and decisions so we can Get. It. Done.
Communicate with Purpose
When you talk to people about the PMO and the IMPACT you’re trying to make with your PMO, make sure you are speaking their language and using terms that they understand to avoid barriers to communication. Talk about outcomes, IMPACT, return on investment, and the deliverable outcomes they’re looking for with their projects. That means we want to speak the language of the audience. We don’t throw a lot of PM speak at everyone, and instead we speak in terms of the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for the person we are talking to. When you’re communicating about the work that the PMO is doing, be sure you are talking in terms of the IMPACT you’re driving as opposed to the templates and tools you’re creating.
Speak Their Language
Communicating with purpose means you’ve got to stop talking project management at business leaders and stakeholders. When we start throwing around a lot of PM speak at our stakeholders their eyes glaze over and they feel that you don’t get them, and they don’t get you. Have you ever seen two people that speak different languages try to communicate or solve a problem? It’s extremely challenging and leaves both parties unsure if they are on the same page. When you start talking about the triple constraint, project management process, templates, etc. to the typical non-PM stakeholder, you run the risk that the two of you will not understand each other. You might be losing a critical opportunity to have effective conversation about your PMO and how it’s driving IMPACT because you’re getting stuck in by a language barrier and they can’t follow along.
Instead, when we’re talking to people about the PMO and the IMPACT we’re trying to make with our PMO, we want to make sure we’re doing it in terms that they understand. We need to use language that resonates with them and use terminology that they are familiar with. This means we should stay away from speaking about the mechanics of the processes we are using and instead talk to them about outcomes, IMPACT, and return on investment. Talk about their pain points and get specific on the way they will be able to function and feel when you’ve solved those business problems. We talk to them in their language so that we eliminate communication barriers and stay in sync with our stakeholders.
Tie PMO Deliverables to IMPACT
Get stakeholders’ attention by connecting everything you are doing with the PMO to the outcomes they are looking to achieve. That means that you want to be able to tie all the services you’re providing directly to an IMPACT that each service is having on the organization. We must build the brand and credibility of the PMO by ensuring that people understand the PMO in terms of how it’s delivering the organizational strategy and solving business problems quickly. Instead of saying that you are building metrics and dashboards, talk about the outcome you are creating, better transparency to drive educated and informed decision-making. Instead of saying that you are creating standards and process, talk about how you are creating greater predictability and reliability so that leaders can more effectively plan for IMPACT and business transformation. This isn’t marketing speak. This is what you are doing. It’s just being communicated in terms that everyone can understand and get behind.
Avoid Information Indigestion
IMPACT PMO Leaders know that when they are having conversations with people, whether they are communicating project status or trying to drive a decision, they don’t overwhelm them with tons and tons of data and information. Have you ever been in a meeting and started to zone out because someone is overwhelming you with facts, data points, and information that is way more than you can possibly process in one sitting? How about those meetings where a stakeholder is drilling down into some irrelevant detail on the bottom of page four of a status report and you know that data is completely irrelevant to the decision you need from them before the meeting can end? The problem is that we put this information in front of them and now we must suffer the consequences of our actions. If we don’t want them to get stuck there or get so overwhelmed with information that they cannot focus on what we need to keep the team moving, then we should avoid putting everyone in that painful position in the first place. Instead, we need to get very laser-focused on providing them with the information they need to drive decisions and then STOP. Stop talking, stop going into further detail, stop putting data in front of them that is not pertinent to the decisions we need made right now. If we throw everything at them, they can’t digest it all anyway and will just spin in circles or take you off track, so why waste the time? Everyone has much better things to do.
Respect Their Time
IMPACT PMO leaders also know that by communicating with purpose, we are respecting everyone’s time. You do not need to overwhelm people or create the environment for unsolicited feedback and comments that will just confuse everyone by abusing the CC line of an email. If you CC someone, explain that you are just keeping them informed. If you send an email to someone and just say “fyi,” expect that they probably won’t even read it. Keep your communications meaningful and tell them what to look for, what they specifically need to know, and what you want them to do. Also, expect that if you write a 5-page email, it won’t get read. People don’t have time for that and if it takes that many words to explain it, you probably would be a lot more efficient by having a quick conversation. You want to be clear, specific, focused and get right to the point of what you need in your emails so that you can keep everybody moving along.
Respecting their time (and yours) also means you are not having 45 meetings in a week just to get status. That is a huge waste of people’s time. IMPACT PMO Leaders are very diligent about the kind of meetings we have, the kind of communications that they disseminate stay focused on the ultimate outcome, which is driving greater throughput and faster realization of benefits. Get. It. Done. to get the highest ROI.
Drive Actions and Decisions
With every communication you create, make sure that you ask yourself, “How will this communication clearly explain what we need and drive actions or decisions?” If the team is just going through the process of meetings and reporting because they have “always done it that way,” challenge them. Make sure that you can tie everything you do and create to the IMPACT it will immediately have on driving decisions quickly. You must keep your PMO, portfolio, and projects moving forward at all times to maximize ROI and throughput. I apply what I call the Goldilocks Method. Not too much, not too little, just the right amount of information to facilitate productivity. Tell them what they need to know and then STOP. Stop talking, stop sharing, stop reporting, stop providing content. Get to the point so you can go Get. It. Done.
I hope this has given you some things to think about to ensure that all your communications are high-IMPACT. Be sure to come back to this blog to go deep with me on the final secret of the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset Series, Transform Mindset coming soon!
What’s your best tip for Communicating with Purpose? Please share your thoughts on these tips and the ways you and your team Get. It. Done. with the right level of communication.
The next installment in the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset is Step 6: T – Transform Mindset.
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