This month we’re talking about all things outsourcing and there’s nothing more important than communication when it comes to making an outsourcing partnership work.
More specifically, there’s nothing more important than trusted communication. People can be sceptical about outsourcing arrangements and if you want the partnership to really work it has to be built on trust.
In other words, you want them to believe the information that is in your status reports and other comms and to take what you say at face value. They should trust you to report the right things and they should trust the content in the report itself to be truly representative of the project today.
Here’s how to make your project communications trustworthy, and it’s easier than you might think!
First, there should be no surprises for your sponsor.
Whether you are working for a client or internally, reports aren’t the best way to find out about major project problems. There are other ways that you can do that. You should put big problems in your reports but only once you have cleared them through other communication routes.
Share The Reports With The Team
You should send your reports to your team members as well. I mention that because I know not everyone does it by default. Sometimes reports only go to stakeholders, clients, users, customers but not the people who are doing the job.
The fastest way to build trust between you and the team is to not drop them in it. You don’t want your reports to be full of blame and things that come as a surprise to them. This isn’t the way that they should find out about changes or schedule amendments. You have other routes open to you to inform them about those, although of course they should be mentioned in your reports once everyone knows about them.
Mostly we think of formal project reporting and communication as something we do to people outside the project team. But you have to have your team on side. They are ambassadors for your project and they need to be talking about it and promoting the benefits of your project with the people they work with and meet.
They will provide you with updates for your standard communications but they’ve got to understand current status and be able to field questions from your users or their colleagues as well, and they can do that better through understanding the big picture, whether they are on the outsourcing side or the customer side.
Stay on Message
Everyone hears the same version of the story, whatever their position. It undermines your communication efforts if different stakeholders are receiving different versions of the truth.
Staying on message limits the impact of your message being changed as people share it with their colleagues. It’s also surprisingly easy for a team member to undermine your efforts about talking positively about your project, even if they don’t mean to, with a few off-hand remarks.
Finally on this, you’ll be more trusted as an individual if your team feels that you are representing their work properly in your reports, and they’ll believe that you are sharing everything with them if the reports are a transparent reflection of the work. If they see – whether they are a colleague or part of the management team – things in there that they weren’t expecting then they could start to feel that you are hiding things or simply that you aren’t on top of it all.
The Benefits of Trustworthy Reporting
The main benefit to come out of being trustworthy when communicating about your project is simply that people trust you. This is huge in project management and leadership because someone with good credibility who is trustworthy will find it much easier to get work done through other people. Your reputation counts for a lot.
You’ll also save time because you’ll believe what they are telling you and you won’t have to go routing around for a different version of the truth, or spend too much time trying to put what they’ve told you in a way that’s acceptable to the stakeholders.
When people feel confident that they can give you the truth about a problem and you aren’t going to turn that against them, then you’ll find it easier to make your reports accurate because they’ll tell you the truth from their side too.
Outsourcing relationships can work and be hugely successful (and I’ve seen some of those in action) but you need great communications based on trust and teamwork to really get the benefits of why you outsourced in the first place.