“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
Imagine this. You are part of a large organization with specific targets and goals defined for the next one to five years. The executive team has laid out major projects that need to be implemented within that time frame. You have been chosen to spearhead one of the projects that will transform and elevate the organization to the next level and significantly increase productivity and output. As much as you are excited with this new opportunity, you are also confronted and nervous for being accountable and responsible for the successful delivery of the project.
The project team has been selected and the executive team has provided the scope, resources and timeline for the project. Now that you are equipped with the talent and scope, what’s next? How do you create effective communication with your project team? There are different levels of communication within a project. However, for a project to be successful, it all relies on the conversations and actions your team takes and executes.
STEP 1: Get Related
Let’s start by getting related to the people on your team. What does this even mean? Get related? The people on your team will be working with you for at least a year. Getting related to your team means to have conversations with each team member and get to know them. Understand who they are, what they do and what they are committed to in their role within the organization and project. By getting related to the individuals on your team, it allows you to be connected to them. When you have a high level of relatedness, when there are concerns they will feel comfortable to approach you and have authentic conversations.
STEP 2: The WHY Conversations
Once you are related to your team, have conversations with them about why the project exists. Why is it important to deliver this project for the organization? What will this project create for the future of the organization? When you start to create the why for your team, all their concerns towards the project will begin to diminish. When projects are initiated most people resist it because of the changes that will be made. Most people do not thrive on change, they enjoy being comfortable and stable. It keeps them safe and in a routine that they know best. Projects initiate change and that usually creates discomfort in people. They start to wonder how it affects their work, their role, and even their job security. As a Project Manager, it is up to you to communicate WHY the project is important for the organization and HOW it affects the people on your team and the people of the organization.
STEP 3: What is the Opportunity
Now that your team can see why they are part of the project, it’s time to get their buy in on the project where they see the value for the company and themselves! Each person on your team has a role to play and the more defined their role is, the more streamlined their communication and actions will be. What is the opportunity for each of your team members? This is where you can create measures, milestones and outcomes sufficient to fulfill the project.
STEP 4: Conversations for Actions
Now this is the fun part! Where can you create communication that causes actions to be taken to fulfill on the delivery of project? These types of conversations usually look like:
- Making requests, and
- Making promises
Now you may be wondering, why do I need to have conversations with people to take action? Shouldn’t the people on my team just know what to do since I’ve already explained it to them? NO! Never assume that people will know what to do just because you think they know what to do. Effective communication requires you to communicate ongoingly. Let’s break these conversations down further:
- Making requests — I request you to do X by time Y.
- Making promises — I promise to do X by time Y.
By having your team acknowledge what actions they will be taking on the project, this is where you can measure their effectiveness in whether they did what they said they were going to do.
STEP 5: Managing Project Completion
Now that your team is taking action and working on the project, how do you know whether your team is actually doing what they said they would do? And whether they are doing it with the intention of the outcome that’s expected for the project? One way to find out is to have weekly touch base conversations with your team to go over the weekly actions to see what’s been completed and what is outstanding. These conversations to manage tasks and requests are vital as it is an indication of where you are at with the deliverables of the project. You can quickly discover whether the project is on track or not based on what tasks are accomplished within the expected timeframe. Also, this is an opportunity to measure whether the team accomplished certain milestones based on the goals and objectives of the project. You need to evaluate the actions that were taken and measure against the outcome that’s expected. If the tasks are completed and it doesn’t fulfill on the outcome that’s needed for the organization, then it is up to you to have a conversation with the sponsor of the project.
Effective Communication within a project is the key to project success! Once you have created the following conversations: relatedness to your team, the why for the project, the opportunity, the actions, and the management for completion you will experience effective communication within a project! Give this methodology a try and let me know how it went.