Project management communication tips to keep you in touch with your team
The single most important element of project management is communication. Communication isn’t just being able to articulate each team member’s tasks and responsibilities succinctly, but also to listen to concerns and issues as they arise and to provide valuable support to your team as the project progresses. If you really want to get through to your team, it’s time to shut up and listen as well.
The key to successful project management is winning the trust and support of your team, great planning and organization, and effective management of problems as they occur. The most important thing to remember is that your team is your best resource in attaining these goals.
Task #1: Assume Everyone is Intelligent
People always aim to fulfill your expectations of them, so expect your project management team to be rocket scientists. Most of your team members are capable, creative creatures that you probably hired yourself. Treat them with respect, practice punctuality, and show them that you are actively listening by turning off your cell phone when they are talking to you in meetings or in private. Participate in their ideas and discussions by asking questions and listening carefully. You will be amazed at what you hear – it’s their input that will make your project management a roaring success.
Added bonus; when you show respect for the ideas of others and listen carefully to what they have to say, they will return the favor. This makes project management a breeze as you are able to communicate instructions, assign tasks and outline responsibilities; gleeful in the knowledge that your every word is being respected and absorbed.
Task #2: Create a Culture of Communication
The first rule of project management is that you will speak about your project. To everyone. All the time. The second rule of project management is that you will speak to everyone all the time. Project management textbooks will point you in this direction, but many managers feel that a simple; “My door is always open,” will suffice when it’s simply not enough. You must actively encourage every member of your team to contribute and discuss ideas and concerns throughout the project’s life cycle.
You must create a culture of communication and to do so means that project management can’t always be about you. During meetings, ask different team members to present or chair so that everyone feel valued. Employees who don’t feel appreciated may be too nervous to talk or too apathetic to care.
Be sure to touch base with each team member individually when you have time as they will be more likely to voice their opinions on a one-on-one basis.
Task #3: Collaboration is King
While every member of your team has their own tasks and responsibilities, it’s a really great idea to encourage team members to help each other. Having support, moral or otherwise, makes every task less daunting.
Studies show that (surprisingly) the two things employees want most in a job is a sense of belonging and recognition from their peers. Your project management strategy should include a broad overview not only of the project, but also of the company and its vision. This must be augmented by a discussion of how each team member fits into your project management strategy and how they contribute to the attainment of that vision. This will help to foster a sense of belonging.
You can also create a feeling of belonging and cohesion among team members with tried and tested project management team building activities like workshops, after work drinks and planning social activities together.
One of the most important arrows in your project management quiver is recognition. By inviting team members to present at or chair meetings, you are recognising them as valued contributors. You can also regularly recognise jobs well done, great contributions or good ideas at project management meetings.
So often we mistake good communication with a lot of tongue wagging. Talking more doesn’t necessarily mean you are communicating your points effectively at all. If you really want a project management team that communicates well, the best thing you can do is just listen. Your team is uniquely qualified to tackle the tasks at hand. They have the experience, education and insight to make a success of the project you are managing. Harnessing their ideas in everything from planning to execution will make their fullest participation and undivided attention far more likely. When they have had a hand in the creation of the project, they will be more involved in its execution. Listening to your team could be the very best project management technique you will ever master.