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Avoid Communication Breakdowns – Listen to Your Team
By Project Manage This

Every PM type knows that communication is one of the core personality traits critical to success. They also know that it’s not just about the clear and concisely crafted email or that spot on presentation –keen listening skills and ability to engage the team in dialog is what makes a PM truly valued.

Sit in on a few post mortems and you’ll quickly see a trend – the positive ones tend to highlight the great team communication, the not-as-fun ones often bring up “communication breakdowns.” A theory on this end is that if people feel they’re not being heard, they aren’t going to talk. If they don’t talk the project is destined for a “communication breakdown.”

As the project manager you play a critical role in empowering your team and one of the easiest things you can do is listen to them. A few quick tips:

  • Get to know the personalities and their communication style – learn to adapt to each one.
  • You’re going to have some team members that are reluctant to speak out. Encourage them to do so! In the team meeting ask – “, what do you think about this approach.” Engage them in the conversation.

  • Keep the vocal one in check. There’s often going to be a team member that overpowers the conversation. Let them talk – they have some great feedback to offer. However, don’t be afraid to cut them off if their voice is overwhelming the team.

  • Forget about their titles. Every member of your team is as critical as the next. It doesn’t matter how Jr. or Sr. they are. Value each one equally – you may just find that the new kid on the block has some amazing ideas to offer.

  • Step away from your desk. There’s a fine balance you want to achieve here – don’t pester team members or distract them, but do find time to walk away from the emails and gannt chart to make sure your team knows your there for them.

  • Ask for advice; encourage team members to share their opinions. You may have a process you follow, but processes should be adaptable and adjustable. A team member might have some suggestions that will make your process even better.

It’s one of the easiest parts of the job, but ranks near the top of most important things PMs do.

Share your tips on how to be a good listener – post a comment.

Project managers, program managers, producers, account managers, coordinators, and the like. The unsung heroes. We’re the ones that keep things moving and get it done on time and on budget. We keep our teams motivated and on track, make sure our boss and/or client is happy, and ensure that the community we’re building for get the best product possible. You never see us sweat, rarely hear us swear, and are amazed at how calm we are when fires erupt. That’s because we’re good at what we do.

We absolutely love our job. Making things happen, getting things done, that’s our nature. We never ever vent at work. Ok, rarely do. But we do have tales to tell. “Project Manage This” is a place for PM types to love and hate the career we’ve chosen.

If you have a tale to tell tweet @pmthis

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