This is second part of a two-part blog series on Project Communication (and herding more cats!). In part one of the Project Communication series, we discussed examples of non-effective communication and provided five ways to make communication more effective. In part 2 of the series, we will discuss how to create a balance for effective communication within the project team or teams. Establishing balance can take time – which these days is a luxury.
In order to find the balance for effective communication, project managers, project leaders, project owners as well as those involved in the project teams (all stakeholders presumably) need to be mindful of the following areas. Listed below are these areas, some which are considered soft skills (or people skills) and align with management or communication styles.
When trying to strike the balance for effective communication – always know your audience and consider the following:
1. Set expectations up front. As a project initializes, it’s important to understand the expectations from the stakeholders on the frequency of updates. We previously discussed a central location to store project assets and documentation. Setting expectations up front with the team on the frequency of updates helps to provide a balance for effective communication. Stakeholders know what to expect and when to expect it.
2. Gauge reviewing and approval authority. When engaged in large scale implementations, it is important to understand who has authority to communicate with the team and what needs approval before communicating. For example, some firms may have strict formatting guidelines along with timing guidelines to ensure a consistent brand message. Other firms may have a formal communications review process before sending something firm wide when a user impacting change is imminent. This knowledge can be helpful when projects span multiple offices in different countries with multiple languages. Knowing the review and approval processes for communications with the project can help strike this balance for effective communication.
3. Understand the company culture. What works with one company, or office, or department, does not mean it will work for everyone across the board. Understanding the company culture can help when establishing the communication frequency as well as review and approval authority. It is important to know whom is sending the message, the method the message will be communicated, and whom the message is received by (the audience). Creating a communications matrix can be a great asset and key when a change in introduced into a daily workflow.
4. Know what NOT to communicate. This may sound trivial, but some updates are not meant to be communicated to an entire project team or stakeholders. Understanding stakeholder expectations on what should be communicated and what NOT to communicate is important for balance as well. For example, not everyone may be privy to budget details, cost and project spend.
5. Communication methods. An area of effective and balanced communication that may get overlooked is remembering that there are multiple generations in the workforce. Having a variety of communication methods and formats can help balance the message as well as provide maximum impact to those receiving the message. Using email, video, social sites, face to face, or print can all be effective when communicated properly to the appropriate audience.
So, now that you’ve learned some ways to make project communication effective and strike a balance, you are on your way to herding those cats! Some projects are less challenging, others, well not so much. A good project manager makes communication happen, but a great project manager keeps communication flowing, effective and balanced. No one said herding cats was easy.
Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts below on striking the balance and effective communication within the context of your firm or organizational culture. And by the way if you didn’t already know, we love what we do, so please let us know if we can help with establishing effective communication tactics for your people or projects. We do workshops and webinars on this exact topic!