Assuming that you have the right people with the right information for a given project, the way you get information across to others requires solid communication. Many projects that surface during a project are actually the results of poor communication that can lead into the following trouble areas:
- People are Surprised-If your team members are not kept informed on what is going on, then they will be surprised when changes occur and may not be able to meet a deadline, if they are left off a status report, for example
- Difference in Expectations-Project managers needs to ensure that everyone associated with the project has a common set of expectations in terms of what is to be delivered, when and at what cost so everyone is on the same page
- Unknown Status of Project-If your team members don’t know what the status on the project is, they don’t know what needs to be done or what has been done. It is important to keep everyone informed.
- Last-Minute Impacts on Others-This is the primary cause of problems that occur during a project, as the project manager does not communicate proactively with other people about how everyone will be impacted. Then once the communication occurs, it a last minute rush to resolve the issue
Helpful Tips on Communication:
- Be Proactive Communicators: In most cases, the problems with communication are not a lack of skills, but a lack of focus, as many project managers place communication proactively at the bottom of their priority list. When PM’s do communicate, it tends to be short and cryptic, as if they were trying to get by with the minimum effort possible.
- Keep the Receiver as the Focal Point, not the Sender: Try to think about what the receiver of the communication needs and what information would be most helpful to them. For example, put all of the information that would be helpful in a status report for all users, such as accomplishments, issues, risks, scope changes, etc.
- Communicate Clearly: If you find people are confused about their end-dates or what they need to do, think about whether you communicated these effectively to them
Poor communication can cause several problems and can aggravate others. Be proactive in your communication and use it to your advantage to help your project go smoothly with less frustration, surprises, and uncertainty.