In this post by Alan Garvey, we learn that open and honest communication is the best policy when communicating up.

Whether you manage projects or entire portfolios, some of your time will be spent advising senior executives. Knowing how to speak their language is essential for building your career as a leader.

Because senior management can influence the future of your projects, it is key to learn critical communication skills to effectively present information that lands on listening, not deaf, ears.

Many managers find it difficult to address people higher up the chain, especially if their focus has been on the technical aspects of their job and not the more strategic business thinking required of leaders today.

To communicate up, you will need to keep five elements in mind:

Start Big, Go Small

Have you ever tries to schedule a meeting with an executive? They’re always overbooked! So, don’t waste their time with the details. Offer up the Big Picture and only provide details when they ask for them (most likely they won’t.) Be prepared to deliver all information if required in a concise and impactful manner.

Identify Communication Preferences

It makes no sense to email an executive who prefers the phone, and vice versa. If the executive travels extensively, ask his or her assistant about the best method for getting in touch. Even the most thoughtfully crafted communication that ends up being ignored is a serious waste of time for everyone.


On many projects, programmes, and portfolios there are several senior managers playing a part. Competing priorities among the highest ranks can lead to conflicts. Part of your role as a project leader is to identify where there are conflicts of expectations and to highlight potential problems.

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