How to Deliver Bad News to a Project Sponsor and Not Getting Killed

As a Project Manager we have the responsibility to report the Project Status to the Sponsor and the Stakeholders. This also means delivering bad news if the project is not working as expected. However no one likes bad news, so it gets tricky on how you deliver message of poor performance to the Project Sponsor.As a Project Manager you should be honest and accurate while reporting the project performance, the information you share here is important to plan any risk that might fail the project.You should be also aware that what ever you report can be taken from a different perspective and your intention can be doubted by your project manager…Your Project manager might view your intention as Political one to avoid working on his project…or he might think you are helping some other sponsor to demean the reputation of current sponsor.To break a news to your sponsor, if you think that he would not take it positively if told directly, then follow the following steps:1. Start by explaining the situation that has happened. For example a task did not get complete.
Starting a communication with words like “We have a problem…” creates a panic button…works for person who prefer direct communication…It is better to start the sentence with “We have a situation…” that helps the other person to understand the situation first and let them analyze the situation.
2. Tell him how you feel about the situation and what you wanted the current situation to be…or what you desired the situation to be.
Let them understand that you are deeply concerned with the situation and let them know that you never wanted the current situation to happen
3. Explain how the situation impact the business and how it impact the sponsor’s cause for supporting the project.
The impact of current situation should be related to business, if this is made personal then it will result in conflict.
The purpose of above communication is to get the sponsor understand the situation and make him analyze the problem from the business perspective.This will help the sponsor to work with you to plan for any downturn or manage any risk associated with the current situation in hand.Remember it is always better to report the accurate situation of the project. Doing this is not only ethical but will help you maintain your dignity. No one likes bad news, but some people become pathetic when bad news is delivered to them. For such person you need to bring their attention to the current situation and explain the impact of the situation on the business. This way you will guide them to analyze the situation and better cooperation from them on the situation.