2 Ways Managers Can Improve Their Communication During Projects
In recent years technology has become an integral part of any organization’s growth strategy. It is often changes in technology that drives the need to change the processes and has been the main impetus behind the merging of working practices, such as project management, into general management.
It is hard to find any development or procedure change that does not have an information technology (IT) aspect. This means incorporating into your communications the language of a formalized project management methodology.
Your communications during a project need to reflect your knowledge of the processes, participants and terminology at two key levels to protect your career.
- Strategic Level
- Planning & Management Level
Every project has stakeholders (a person, group or organization) who have a vested interest in the success of the project. These individuals or groups are involved in the project because they are positively or negatively affected by its execution or completion.
In your communications it is essential that you identify who these key people are, evaluate and understand their interest from the outset. Poor communication to this group can undermine your success because gossip, rumors and the unexpected undermine the respect, trust and belief the stakeholders have in your ability to succeed.
Help is at hand with our free template that enables you to identify the key stakeholders and collect the necessary information you need to assess their level of ‘Stakeholder Interest’. Armed with this information you can thenplan the correct level, frequency and type of communication each stakeholder requires.
Planning & Management Level
The second type of communications you need to master is that with the actual project team members and between the different project groups. These communications are equally vital to your success because they shape the infrastructure that enables you to communicate the right information at the right time to the right people.
To excel in this area your communications must match the requirements of the different project processes. One of the most widely used methodologies is PIMBOK®. This has five process groups that describe how a project is initiated, developed and executed.
One of the key documents you need to understand is the Project Management Plan. The plan communicates the explicit activities, work packages and instructions that enable the project team you are part of to successfully complete on time and to budget.
It is essential that your communications at this level use the language of the project methodology accurately in two key ways.
Firstly, you must use the acronyms and shorthand of the project. For example, you would use ‘WBS’ rather than ‘Work Breakdown Structure’.
Secondly, the tone of the communication will focus on the project plan and its ‘activities’ rather than strategic issue that are of interest to stakeholders.
Any communication you make must be relevant and timely. To achieve this you need to ask yourself six simple questions (RESULT Principle):
Reason – what is the reason or need for your communication?
Environment – does your communication match the situation or mood?
Specific – who really needs your information to perform their role?
Understanding – does your communication need to be discussed before it is sent so that your meaning is easily comprehended?
Listen – to how people best like to get messages of your nature and use this to distribute your communication? Are all interested parties able to access your chosen technology e.g. project wikis, intranets etc.
Timeframe – When is the best time to communicate it?
Remember your communication is only complete once you know that its message has been received and understood as you intended.
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