I once managed a project for a multi-site organization to implement software at each location.
I held a weekly status conference-call with the company’s executives which included the branch manager from each location. In these calls, I would give an overall status of the project and each branch manager would report the status for their respective branch.
When the turn came up for one branch manager to report status, he always reported the project as green; there were never any issues or risks.
He was very good at telling the executive level what they wanted to hear.
Not a transparent status report
The problem with that approach was that what they wanted to hear wasn’t always what they needed to hear. Sure, issues came up every day that we resolved without the need to inform the executive level. Managers are supposed to resolve issues on their own.
But there are issues that executives need to be made aware of. They may not need to get involved. But if the issue grows out of control, the executives end up finding out about it and ask why they weren’t informed earlier.
When an executive is a micromanager who feels the need to manage every issue that comes his way, it’s understandable to avoid informing him of issues that don’t require his input. He’ll just get involved and blow it out of proportion when you already have it under control.
But status reporting must be a transparent process. Communicate exactly what you’re doing to resolve an issue or mitigate a risk and tell the executive what you need from them. If it’s just an FYI and you need nothing from them, make that clear.
The cost of hiding information from executives is much greater than the cost of their unnecessary meddling.
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As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.