6 Effective Ways to Improve Project Communication [Guest Post]
As a project manager, you have to constantly communicate one thing or the other to sponsors, clients, and team members. Thus, sharing information and communicating project needs to team members is routine.
The following project activities require effective communication:
- Negotiating contracts
- Eliciting requirements
- Developing project plans
- Delegating tasks
- Identifying risks
- Reporting project progress
- Conducting meetings
- Tracking progress
- Sharing changes with team members.
A study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that ineffective communication is the primary contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time.
There are other findings as well that lay emphasis on the importance of effective communication. It is also found that:
“Companies risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project and new research indicates that $75 million of that $135 million (56 percent) is put at risk by ineffective communications, indicating a critical need for organizations to address communications deficiencies at the enterprise level.”
Thus, it has become essential to improve your project communication strategy and develop communication skills to make project management easier and better.
6 Steps to Create a Communication Strategy
Every successful project has one thing in common – a kickass communication strategy. It includes information such as a brief summary, target audience, objectives, approaches, communication channels, budgets, and methods of monitoring and evaluation.
Be mindful of the following six factors when creating a communication strategy.
1. Develop the purpose
Keep your purpose in place. Know why you are doing this and how every step will take you forward. Set goals and be realistic about them.
2. Determine the key players
Decide which team members, executives, stakeholders, and clients to involve and to what extent.
3. Discuss roles and responsibilities
Make sure team members know what needs to be done before they get started with their tasks. It’s essential for team members to know their roles and responsibilities.
4. Determine the preferred way of communication
Find out what communication channels clients and team members prefer – emails, written updates, calls, or team meetings.
5. The frequency of communication
Taking the deadline into consideration, decide if you would like to have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings.
6. Be open to change
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Consider potential risks beforehand and be flexible enough to adjust when needed.
6 Effective Ways to Improve Project Communication
High-performing organizations create formal communications plans for nearly twice as many projects as their lower-performing counterparts.
Let us see how these organizations keep their communication game strong.
1. Set project expectations
The first step to establish an effective project communication plan is to set project expectations from the first day with both team members and stakeholders. Each one of them should be clear of what is expected out of them during the course of a project.
Openly discuss and explain project goals and plan to them. Mapping the project with a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) chart is an effective way to streamline communication.
When people working on a project know their responsibilities and deadlines, working on it becomes easier.
2. Build a strong team culture
Your company culture plays an important role in cultivating good communication practices. As a project manager, do your bit to build a culture where ideas and opinions are welcomed with open minds along with a focus on face-to-face conversations and social interactions.
It helps team members to speak their minds without any hesitation or fear of being judged.
Make sure to become their go-to person if they find something problematic while working on a project.
3. Run effective meetings
Sadly, not many people know how to run meetings effectively and end up wasting time and not achieving much.
If done properly, meetings can yield great results keeping everyone informed about progress and bottlenecks in a project.
It’s up to you whether you’d like to hold a daily 15-minutes meeting or a 60-minute weekly meeting. To conduct productive meetings, include an agenda, updated status reports, and the next course of action followed by a quick summary.
Encourage others to voice their ideas and opinions in meetings to have a two-way dialogue and effective communication.
4. Ask questions
Any form of miscommunication could harm your project in a big way. The only way to avoid miscommunication is to ask questions and ask a lot of them.
As a project manager, you should be curious as this will help you understand processes and deliverables clearly.
Asking questions plays an important role in taking communication forward in the right direction. When you ask the right questions, you gain insight to help you delegate tasks in the best manner, keeping your team members’ strengths in mind.
It’s a win-win situation both for you and your team.
5. Take advantage of collaborative tools
It’s not always possible to stay on top of everything especially when your plate is already full with other tasks. That’s where project management and collaboration tools come into the picture. Such collaboration tools are helpful in managing tasks and streamlining your communication process.
Project managers and teams from all around the world use collaboration tools like ProofHub to keep everyone on the same page and maintain constant communication throughout the course of a project.
6. Focus on nonverbal communication
Effective communication isn’t just verbal but also non-verbal. In fact, more than half of the communication happens through our body language, actions, and gestures. If there are increased instances of miscommunication, start paying attention to nonverbal aspects of communication.
Summing it up
Even if your team is going strong on the communication front, there is always room for improvement. Do consider implementing some of the above-mentioned tips to take your project communication to the next level.
Guest Author Bio
Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others, and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.