Ask EmThePM: Part1

I receive e-mails from Project Management Professionals and with their permission, I’m able to share their question and answer in this blog post in the aim of sharing knowledge as the question appears to be something that comes up quite a lot! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these questions with the aim to share knowledge and how they rectified the situation. To support their privacy, some of the elements of their message have been changed/adapted.

“My sponsor has asked me to lie to Stakeholders”

Dear Emily,

I’ve got a question for you and it’s really sensitive in nature. I work in a very big company, rife with political games and issues. My project is quite small on the cost scale but very important for a lot of different stakeholder groups.

We’re in the middle of planning at the moment and I’ve inherited this project from a colleague. The project has been running for 6months already and should be delivered in 3 months from now, but we are nowhere near where we should be because of delays from another Business Unit. This Business Unit is known for being the delay in a lot of projects but no-one can tackle this issue due to the politics that I mentioned.

My sponsor approached me today and asked me to “edit” my upcoming update for the Project Steering Committee to not only not announce the delay but also to push blame to another Stakeholder group. I said that I would only be truthful but I’m getting a considerable amount of pressure and he’s talking about “giving the project to someone who can do their job”. What would you do here?

Thanks in advance,

Alain.

Dear Alain,

What a difficult position that you’ve been put in! I would try to make sure that whatever way you move forward from this, you remember your professional integrity as a Project Manager and as a professional. This is often a common issue that I’ve seen in very politically charged companies and it can be very difficult for Project Managers to make sure that they are remaining ethical. I’d like to recommend a few options moving forward.

  • Align with your stakeholders: Before any meeting, make sure that you have aligned the contents of your presentation with your stakeholders and that there are no ‘surprises’
  • Make sure your presentation is clear: Stick to the facts and do not make it ambigious/ open to interpretation.
  • Stick to the facts: Are you being clear in your communications? I’d verify and check the language being used and make sure that you’re being clear.
  • Be honest and open with your Sponsor: I would have a honest meeting with the sponsor and show them that you are remaining honest and ethical with your Project Management reports and status updates.

Moving forward, I would try to get your stakeholders and Manager onside for the next steps and communicating effectively. If your sponsor continues to try and push you to lies or omit data from presentations, I would then discuss this with your PMO or your Manager.

Resources for you:

What advice would you give to Alain? Comment or share your thoughts.

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