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The project managers in the current environment want to be included in forms of communication e.g. emails, meetings, etc and this seems both autocratic, archaic, dictatorial, etc. Most other environments i have been party to, project managers want to be included in conversations that result in a decision as opposed to all conversations.

What is the general practice and why?

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It is difficult to get the balance right, however overall I don't believe the PM should expect to see every communication. It is vital that any decisions, emerging risks or issues, completed actions, or anything that needs escalation are communicated. However, different people will interpret these in different ways so it is important to give guidance and either ask for more or less, depending on how individuals communicate.

Some people like to tell you everything, on the basis that "you can't blame me because I told you what I was planning to do" - but they don't appreciate that their 20 emails per day are a small proportion of the total that you receive. Others will tell you very little as "you are so busy that I didn't want to bother you with trivia", despite their actions or decisions being non-trivial.

I try to draw the line about being copied into deep technical discussions between technical people, and ask to be removed from the distribution list until they have something that fits my communication criteria. Having said that, I would rather get too much information than not enough, as it is a small overhead to scan an email and delete it when compared to having to step in and resolve something that has blown up out of all proportion, and that could have been nipped in the bud 3 days earlier.

So, coming back to the original question, I suggest that there is no single best practice model, and the PM should set out clear criteria for communications - and be prepared to have to coach the team to comply with his or her expectations.

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The general practice is to keep the PM in the loop of any major decisions with the contextual information leading to that decision. The reason is that it is in order to best identify any changes to risk or scope. The pm can only ascertain this if he/she has the full story of what is going on.

  • I appreciate keeping the project manager in the loop of decisions but i question the need for every communication. – Motivated Oct 10 '15 at 6:20
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I believe the intention of the Project Managers to be in all communications across the project is to be aware of all the discussions, progress, and decisions within the team. This from one perspective is important if the team is in the state of forming and is building. The manager may not wish to loose the track of any discussions in this case. He intends to keep the team motivated in the right direction.

But in case, the team is following a Scrum model and is completely in a good shape. This may not be a good practice, doing this will lead to micro management. This is not good for the health and motivation of the team. It may lead to feeling of distrust in the team members. May be due to the manager in CC to all communications the team members may not speak with their hearts and say what the Manger would like to hear. Thus, many new ideas may not even be talked about.

If, in case the manager handles the emails in a better way and only intervene if asked for or is really needed then there is no harm in doing this.

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A Project Manager should be over seeing every kind of project related communication, group or individual, everything CC's to that manager. It doe not follow that all such things will be parsed, but that they are are available, to be referenced as needed. PM might find it useful to attend/monitor meetings, passively, allowing the process to evolve unhindered by oversight. as Mr Anurudh Singh above states people may "not speak with their hearts and ( instead) say what the Manger would like to hear." It is important therefore, never to dissuade honest communication.

When we rely on software exclusively, even in a software project (mine are all Real World, not software) we lose the nuances of human interactivity.

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Do they need to be included? No. But they might have valid, non-dictatorial reasons for wanting to. Being included in the nitty gritty details of daily work can help the PM understand the project's domain better, which could be useful depending on how hands-on the PM is expected to be. Learning people's names and roles could be another reason. It's also a way (not necessarily a good way) to stay up to date on what's happening without asking for a status report.

If they want to be included in everything, don't push back. Nothing breeds suspicion and ill will like asking a (project) manager why they want to know about something that they have every right to know. If they start trying to micromanage or asking too many questions that take time away from your actually doing the work, then respectfully explain how that affects the work, ask what they are looking for (you may need to ask in a few different ways or read between the lines), and see if there is some other way of getting them that information, such as project dashboards or domain-specific training.

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